Monday, September 24, 2007

My reintroduction to yoga (or why teachers can make the worst students)

This fall I decided to enroll in a weekly yoga class. In the past, I would promise myself that I would go and then would find all sorts of excuses not to go. So, I paid in advance and it's the same class at the same time every week for the next ten weeks.

I'm doing this for me. It's all part of my plan to help me live a happier life. Doing so will also make me a better teacher. But, I have to say, I was not the happiest of students tonight.

I'll be honest, whenever I am in a class, I end up analyzing the teaching and learning dynamic. It's not that I want to be mean; it's what I do. So, I arrive for the class, and they have moved the location. There were no signs, and I found that vaguely amusing, until I got into the class. The instructor could not decide which way she wanted the class to face. In fact, she changed her mind three or four times in the first ten minutes. It wasn't a pedagogical tool. She simply got thrown off by the change.

OK, I can live with that. I've been thrown off by the unexpected many times. But then, she started class, and I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was once again reminded of what it was like to be the kid in the class who was bored. All I wanted was to get into the poses, breathe, and feel my body respond to the movement and holds. And then she would do things like say, "Let me show you..." and would start to explain a new pose. And of course, students would begin o follow (because she had students follow before). But then she would change her mind and tell us to watch. urgh.

The high (low) point was when she noted that she was relieved that the folks who knew what they were doing were in the back of the room. Gee, make people feel bad because they'd never taken a class before. And why not use those students with more experience as models?

My point here is that teachers can make lousy students because they have an idea in their heads about how teaching and learning ought to occur. As one of those teachers who has always worked with a wide range of students, I know not to call out students. I also know that I need to give directions and be consistent. And, I also know that I need to tell students where we are going, where we have been, and where we will go.

Sigh. I'm going to try and leave the teacher me at home next week so that I can simply enjoy the yoga. I need it. I want it.


Themathwiz said...

I have the same feeling in osme of the classes I attend at some boring Professional Development sessions. I had a trainer in a law workshop, who sat in the room and kept reading from articles. He had no eye contact with the students, had no energy whatsoever. Instead of listening to what he is saying, I was analyzing his methodology.

liveandletdie said...

I've actually taken yoga classes for five years as part of my dance company and I've also gone to a studio to take a handful of classes. And I have noticed the students who are continuously there get more attention then the ones just trying the class out. I've also noticed if one student has more potential than another, they get alot more coaching than the person who actually needs it.
When you were talking about the "just watch" I've encountered that alot in dance classes, we would get yelled at if we tried to do what the teacher was doing if she said "just watch". I don't understand how that helps anyone.

I hope you enjoy your yoga classes!

profileparanoid said...

I used to think that i was just a critical b@#$% b/c whenever I played the student role, I always thought the teacher should teach "my way" or "the right way". Inless ofcourse Dr. G is the teacher b/c she's great!!!! What Im growing to understand both through my education esperiences as well as my new marriage that "my way" does not equate to the "right way" or "only way". In fact, as a teacher of special education, we are consistently modifying information to the students best understanding. If we have a student, yoga or otherwist that is a visual learner and the instructor is more of an auditory presenter, we revamp the 411 into a visual presentation. I try to keep this in mind when I am in class and a professor insists on putting up a power point and reading it word for word!

Melissa said...

Reading this brought me back to a terrible professional day that I try to keep locked away in my memory. We, for some insane reason I've yet to learn, spent the day learning how to fold paper in interesting displays. While the occasional oragami trick is neat, this was not oragami. This was how to make a box out of a piece of paper to display a scene. Being the good student I bit my tounge and would not allow myself to ask the "teacher" why not just use a shoebox?!? Sitting through that ALL DAY professional day folding paper, subjecting my poor fingertips to papercuts I did not make a good student. I grumbled, moaned and made sarcastic comments under my breath. I'm sure I was the student that caused the teacher to reach for a beer that night. But hey, it happens to the best of us right?