Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Being able to perform advanced yoga poses has little, if any, bearing on one’s capacity to teach effectively.

Effective teaching is one of my primary goals in teaching yoga. The various Alignment Yoga Teacher Training programs focus on helping teachers-in-training become good teachers… Who just happen to teach yoga.

Sadly, the focus in much of the yoga teacher-training world is on the flash and dazzle of yoga: doing ever-deeper poses, or pushing students into emotional release. While there is a time and a place for both of these skills, I think we’d all be better off if we spent more time focusing on the fundamentals of effective teaching.

I can clearly remember the first time I recognized that I was in the presence of a very effective teacher. I was in the third grade at Desert Shadows Elementary School in Scottsdale, Arizona.

My usual classroom teacher announced that the principal, Muriel Rickard, would be coming into the classroom to teach us the 9’s of our multiplication tables. I was a pretty sorry student of multiplication tables, as memorizing isn’t one of my great strengths. In addition to being pretty underwhelmed by the prospect of more memorizing, I was also scared by the prospect of the principal, the holder of ultimate authority, spending much time in our classroom.

Despite my misgivings, I found Ms. Rickard to be absolutely enthralling. She walked confidently into the classroom, and immediately connected with the students in a warm-hearted and engaging way. To this day, I am amazed by her capacity to connect with students so quickly and in such a seemingly effortless way.

Of course, the 9’s of the multiplication tables have their own intriguing patterns. I still remember some of those details, but what I most clearly remember was watching Ms. Rickard teach. As a third-grader I thought to myself, that’s why she’s the principal – she’s the best teacher!

Up until that point, I categorized teachers as either nice or not nice. I’d never considered pedagogy in the least. But from that moment onward, I began to pay attention to how teachers taught, perhaps even at the expense of listening to what they were teaching.

Thanks to Ms. Rickard, way back in 1975, for opening my eyes to the world of teaching.  And a big thank you to all the teachers in the intervening years who’ve helped me see what I didn’t know that I didn’t know, and then showed me how to use the tools to continue discovering.


Learning Yoga said...
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Muladhara Chakra said...

Awesome blog posted. Thank you for sharing it.