Flying the nest
10 tips for new teachers out of lock down. By Sarah Rumble
If you are a newly qualified teacher, first off, congratulations! Doing a teacher training is no small feat and with the added challenge of doing the course during a pandemic, you should be so proud of yourselves. Take a moment here to pause and take your achievements in.
As a new teacher, going out to share what you deeply care about can feel like putting your heart on the line. I can imagine you are feeling excited and bursting with enthusiasm but this could also be coupled with feeling nervous, vulnerable and insecure at first. It is normal to hold both of these experiences at the same time!
Rest assured you are not alone. I can remember my first few classes and even now if I teach to a big group of new faces I am thrilled to be teaching — but at the same time a bit scared!
As a new teacher coming out of lockdown, you may face different challenges that many of us simply did not have. Before all else, make sure you know the current guidelines like the back of your hand and get good insurance cover. Serious stuff aside, here are some tips to get you off to a smooth start.
- Start with what you already know
Upon finishing your teacher training, your head is bursting with new knowledge and sometimes this can be daunting not knowing where to start. First, ground yourself. keep your life as easy and simple as possible whilst you’re finding your yogi feet. Use the sequences you are most comfortable with, the ones you enjoy the most and sticking with the key themes and postures you are familiar with. It can be overwhelming at first as you have all this beautiful new knowledge and you want to share it all with the world. I know when I have finished any training I feel like a kid in a sweet store and sometimes I want to grab all the sweets and throw them around. Cue the sugar rush and pending headache! To avoid this head spin, keep your class plans familiar and grow your confidence bit by bit.
- Enjoy the atmosphere
If you started teaching online or attended a class online, you may have noticed a feeling of something missing. This missing treasure in an online setting is the energy. Yes, you can create a nice set-up at home and have a sense of a shared practice with others. But it really doesn’t compare to in-person. Enjoy the shared experience in-person. The atmosphere when people come together can be transformational, not only as an attendee, but even more so when you are the teacher. Allow yourself a moment during class to take in the positive experience that you are facilitating and treasure it.
- Protect your energy
Sadly, you will not please everyone; you cannot take on every job and you need to rest. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. Protect your energy by setting up good boundaries. Decide what days or times you want for downtime. Decide how far you want to travel to teach a class. Scheduling in time for R&R is just as important as scheduling in work. When starting out, it can be too tempting to get in touch with every gym, studio and centre in town! Breathe, take stock and decided with your inner wisdom how to spend your energy wisely.
- Connect with people
Learn your students’ names. This is something I had to work hard at. Naturally, I am a forgetful person and names do not stick easy. Maybe you are like me, or maybe you have a great memory for names. Either way, this is essential for making your students feel seen, appreciated and a part of a community. Connection, as we know is so valuable. The simple act of addressing your students by their name will keep them coming back as you are making them feel welcomed and cared for.
- Know your worth
Depending on where you are in the world, the rate of pay for yoga teachers differs. Do a bit of research and do not undersell yourself. It is estimated for every hour yoga class taught, another two hours of work has gone into prep. This might be commuting, setting up class, planning, admin and advertising. There are lots of places out there that will advertise the job as an ‘opportunity for exposure’ or something similar. If you want to take an experience for this purpose, go for it! This is a kind reminder to you, that you deserve to be paid and big organisations sometimes sell an ‘opportunity’.
- Be consistent
Your time keeping is essential. If you taught online, you know how easy it was to just quickly roll out a mat without much worry about clock watching. However, teaching out in the public requires a bit more planning. You need to consider traffic, parking and setting up. Plus, I recommend factoring in time for yourself to ground down and become present before your yogis arrive. You want to set the tone as soon as they arrive; it really helps by being calm and centred yourself. A flustered, unprepared and late yoga teacher can alter the atmosphere, especially if you do not know your students well. Of course, we all have hiccups in life, and generally people are very forgiving. But good time keeping will help you present your best self first: the professional, reliable, trustworthy and calm yoga teacher you have cultivated yourself to be. Which all aids in helping your students to unwind with you.
- Be you
You are you, so own your voice, own your style and the own the energy you want to bring to your classes. Don’t feel you need to change to fit in. We hear it all the time and it has become a bit of a buzzword: authenticity. But this is something to keep close to your heart and value. You are unique and that is your gift as a teacher. As you go out into the world after essentially living in your own bubble during lockdown, stay true to yourself and cast a steady anchor into your uniqueness.
Get to know local studios, teachers and other business owners on the same wave length. Creating a network with other teachers will create good relationships that might lead to more work, shared ideas, advice exchange, collaborations on a workshop, retreats and more! Making friends with people in your field can help create respectful, supportive and lasting relationships, where we can cheer each other on to become successful and to do good in the world!
- Allow a slow burner
It might take time for classes to build up, keep the faith and don’t rush to cancel a class if you only have one or two people come. Not all the classes will fly immediately, they might be a slower burner. Similar to Tip #6…be consistent. Even if you only have two people booked in, they deserve you to show up fully; they have come to you for a service, to be taught yoga and that is an honour. These individuals may turn out to be your biggest supporters, advocates and the best form of advertisement as you build your business.
- Have fun
You have chosen a path to follow your dreams, so enjoy it and have fun! Most yoga teachers get their left and right mixed up, maybe even their elbow to their knee mixed up. My yogi friends and myself do all the time! It is okay to make little verbal cue mistakes, it is okay to forget your sequence, and it’s okay if you pass wind! Try not to be so critical and harsh on yourself whilst teaching; instead of taking yourself so seriously, try stepping into class relaxed. If you make mistakes, laugh it off and carry on. By creating a light-hearted environment, not only will you enjoy teaching more but it will also help your students to not be so harsh and critical on themselves too.