Teaching a new class can always be a bit scary whether you are a new or seasoned teacher. Being a substitute only adds to the anxiety of being in front of a room full of strangers. In a perfect world having a sub wouldn’t matter as long as you are still getting the stress relieving moving meditation that you came for – right?
There is a rush of excitement with teaching in a new space and you want to do your best – then it happens. He/She saunters in with yoga mat tucked under their arm and a look of disapproval on their face. Thinking a smile will make this introduction a little sweeter, you offer up an inviting grin, only to be met with ”Oh – you’re teaching today?”
Ah yes – this is just how I wanted to start the class!
Some of my worst experiences as a yoga teacher took place while subbing someone else’s class. Each bad experience only left me more certain that I would never accept an offer to sub again. Honestly, there have been times when I had absolutely nothing to do and saw an email on my phone requesting coverage for a class – and declined to cover it. My anxiety and aversion to feeling like I was the source of a total stranger’s disappointment had become overwhelming. This is where my own yoga practice came into play – do I simply decide to never kick up into handstand again after falling a few times? Do I stop practicing all together if too many postures are difficult for me?
Of course not!
So I decided to finally get over myself and start saying YES to any opportunity to sub that fit into my schedule.
I have been feeling better about covering classes lately and got great feedback from the last few I covered at Equinox. Just like our lives on and off of the mat, once I changed my attitude about it, my outcome changed as well. There are still nerves involved with covering classes for other instructors so if at all possible I try to take a class with the teacher I will be covering for. This helps me get a feel for the space and go over lighting and audio instructions etc. Previewing a class before subbing is usually wishful thinking as most request are last minute!
Getting over the idea that I have to teach the same class as their scheduled teacher has helped a lot. Of course if it is “level 1 flow” then that is what I will teach but I do so in a way that is true to my personality.
One major shift in saying “no” to every request to sub is that I have finally applied an excellent piece of advice that I’ve heard from several teachers that I admire. You ready for it?
“Just go in there and LOVE them!”
Best advice of my teaching career! I put my slightly hurt feelings aside after the looks of disappointment (and on occasion students simply walking out explaining they came to practice with their teacher – not a sub) and I just love them. The freedom of vulnerability comes into play when I am in front of the room. I allow the students to see who I am and not just call out poses to kill time.
It is an ongoing lesson in humility and non-attachment when I sub a class. These experiences also serve as a reminder of all of the work my fellow teachers put into their classes for the students to be so loyal! As hard as it is, I have to remind myself that it is not about me and I don’t know what brought each person into class that day. What I do know is that I am always super nice to the subs at any studio I practice.
Be kind to subs,