The Teacher

I’m not always the student – I’m a college professor during the day.

These 16 days put me inadvertently in the position of observing teachers, and relating their manner to my own pedagogical methods. Little things, like:

  • How to greet the room
  • How to handle mistakes
  • How to push students past their doubts
  • How to lead without ego

As a student, I appreciate the casual rapport that almost all these teachers have. I also like the physical adjustments some of the teachers make when I’m not doing it right – tipping my arm to the left, pushing my the knees towards the floor. Their guidance is so gentle, so appreciated.

But I’m human, right? And sometimes I’m not feeling it.

So Yoga in the Heights has these cards they give you when you show up. The cards show the teacher whether or not you’d like your pose adjusted when and if you need it. (See above – if you flip the card, it says “NO” on a red background.)

And after these 16 days as a student, I know that I need these for my classrooms. I need to be more compassionate when my students aren’t feeling it – I need to take it less personally. It’s not a failure on my part if they’re not able to pay attention. Most most most most most likely it has nothing to do with me.

Sometimes I’m pushy. I’ve probably embarrassed students by calling them out when they just couldn’t bring themselves to care even a little bit about what I was droning on and on about. And as adults, they should have the option to opt out without verbalizing it.

The perspective shift is that it’s not my job to force students to learn. I’m not the headmaster, wielding a ruler and a bad attitude. I don’t need to take their off-days personally. Instead, my responsibility is to present ideas, to guide the process, and to evaluate understanding.

It’s their choice to learn. It’s their experience. I should be honoring and empowering them to cultivate ownership of their own destinies, whatever that looks like. Even if it doesn’t look like my imagination of what it’s supposed to look like.

In other words:

The light within me bows to the light within you. Namaste.

Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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