Setting the Foundation: Three Commitments: Reaching Your Teaching Potential

There’s no reason you can’t reach your potential and be the best teacher you can be. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, however. (It’s not.) Nor does it mean that it will happen as a natural result of working hard. Working hard is necessary but it’s not enough.

  • Reaching your potential as a yoga teacher doesn’t happen because you took a 200-hour or 500-hour teacher training.
  • It doesn’t happen because you really, really want to be better.
  • Nor does it happen because you do a lot of yoga.
  • It doesn’t happen because you are a smart or capable person.
  • And not because you have a mentor or online mastermind group.
  • It doesn’t even happen because you’ve taught for a year or five years or a dozen years.

Don’t misunderstand us: such tactics and capabilities are fantastic, and will surely contribute to your becoming a fine teacher. But they don’t guarantee it. They are tactics that you can choose but to be sure you get where you want to go, it’s best to set a strong foundation. To be the best teacher you can be today, and to keep growing to meet your explosive potential, consider these foundational commitments:

1) Set an Explicit Intention

If you are simply interested in being a decent teacher as a hobby, that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, you want to be the best teacher you can be, it won’t just happen with time or a general hope. It takes an explicit intention.

This is like anything else. If you dreamed of qualifying for the Boston marathon or you were determined to become the best farmer, lawyer, partner, nature guide, college professor or rock climber you could be, you would intentionally commit to prioritizing the necessary steps to succeed.

The only way you’d stick with the necessary training schedule to run your preparatory 10k races at target pace and then the race-pace half marathons and marathons is because you have dreams of qualifying for an elite competition and you’ve set that intention.

Your explicit intention ensures your commitment to following through even on the days when you don’t feel like it, even when a task is difficult or boring, and even when you hit a wall and need more support to try something different.

2) Commit to Continuous Learning

You may have had the assumption that a 200-hour or 500-hour training would give you what you needed to be a teacher. But like all of your colleagues, you soon realized that the trainings are simply a beginning, and the knowledgebase you are drawing from is endless. To become the best teacher you can be naturally means a commitment to continuous learning.

3) Commit to Translating Your Learning into Teaching Skill

This career means turning your passion, practice and learning into the actual act of teaching, and then refining your skills in an effort to inspire, inform and support students.

Said another way: what you know and how you teach are two different things. No matter how much you teach, the things you’ve learned and want to share don’t always come out in the most effective way. To teach well requires a dedication to not only your practice as a student but to your development as a teacher. It takes experimentation and polishing.

  • If you rarely teach, then no matter what you know, you’re not going to reach your potential as a teacher.
  • And if you teach often but don’t seek feedback and commit to improving, then time and again you’ll miss the same opportunities and make the same mistakes (whether you’re aware of them or not).

At times, of course, you need to immerse yourself in your practice and study for the pure joy of it, or for the desperate need of it — without having any thought of teaching. But to be your best, you must also continue to evolve your teaching. Like turning a written draft into a polished article, turning knowledge into teaching is a craft that must be honed.