Incorporating New Information into our Teaching
So you just went to a continued education workshop and learned that the shoulder cue you’ve been giving for years is anatomically not safe. Or maybe you learned new information regarding sequencing or philosophy.
What do you do with this information?
How do you add it into your teaching and start to adjust accordingly?
In seventeen years of teaching and all of my continued education I have been there many, many times! So here are some steps to help you through these uncomfortable, and sometimes confrontational, transitions.
First off, once you know better you have to do better. You can’t put your head back in the sand and pretend you don’t know. This might seem like the easy route but it will lead to a nihilistic attitude and that doesn’t help anyone. So,
1. Don’t judge yourself. As long as you have always done your best with the information you had, you’ve done nothing wrong. Forgive yourself, everyone else will. It isn’t the end of the world.
2. Take some time with the information. Sometimes we get so excited with the new info that we rush into the studio to teach it right away. I know from experience, this won’t go well! You need to take some time to process and incorporate the information completely, so that you fully understand it. In order to teach something, you have to fully understand all of the moving parts and the nuances of it. For example, if you learned new information about how the shoulder joint works take some time to do more research on it, ask yourself questions about how that applies to various poses, and explore it in your own practice. If other questions come up, reach out your original teacher for clarification. If the original teacher isn’t available, ask another teacher that has a good education and whom you respect. Before you go into the studio you have to know exactly what you are teaching and WHY you are teaching it.
3. Incorporate it slowly. Depending on how many changes you are making, take your time with it. If you want to change three things, start with just one and work with that in your classes for several weeks until you feel that you’ve really grasped it in your teaching. Then move on to the next. It can also be helpful to really teach the new material in your classes. Not just cue it or mention it quickly but really take the time to workshop and explain it to your students (if that’s applicable).
4. Expect some push-back! You might have a few people that question the change. This can be challenging for us as a teacher because it brings up our insecurities. Please know that people questioning you is a good thing. As long as you know your why and can explain your position then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Explain why you are making the change. Let them know that now you know better and you have to implement that knowledge and do better. Trust me, they will respect you for it. It will also help your students to remember that you are just a human and that teachers don’t know everything. Not to mention, by being humble, calm, and non-confrontational in these situations you are practicing the Yamas & Niyamas and leading by example.
5. This won’t be the last time. Accept that as long as you continue to educate yourself (and you better!) this will happen over and over and over again. Welcome to the journey baby.
Lastly, obviously this takes some humility. And, for me, going through this experience over-and-over has really shown me that I truly know nothing.
Socrates said it best….
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.”
Wanna hear one of my funny stories (there are many) about learning new information and having to incorporate it into my teaching? Check back next week for my blog Humble Pie.
Missed the precursor to this blog? HELP! Continued Education Contradicts What I Know.