8 Strategies for Successful Yoga Co-Teaching
Despite the fact that as yoga teachers we are constantly surrounded by people, teaching yoga can also be quite a lonely experience. We travel from studio to studio, from client to client, and create our class plans on our own. Teaching with another person adds a completely different dimension to the teaching experience. We plan, prepare, teach and reflect together.
At Wild Love Beamer, we teach social types of yoga such as Partner Yoga, AcroYoga, Family Yoga and special yoga events together.
We’ve heard many stories and opinions where people avoid building businesses together with their loved ones. We found that working together is a very fulfilling and deeply connective experience, and it improved our own teaching, as well as public speaking skills as one has to be not only aware of oneself and one’s students, but also the co-teacher. Here are 9 strategies that help us to have a pleasurable co-teaching experience.
1. Stick to your role & Give space for your co-teacher
When preparing your class plan, decide who is teaching what so you are both clear that all sections of your class are covered. Social Psychologists use the term of ‘shared responsibility’ – basically saying that the more people that are responsible to perform the same action, the less likely it is that one person will perform it!
Once you decide which parts of the class your co-teacher is covering, release control of those sections. Often we explain things in a different way, and one way is not the right way. Some of your students will click more to your explanations, whereas others to your co-teachers.
2. 50/50 air time
Sharing the amount of teaching time equally gives equal value to each teacher’s contribution to the class. We think that this is the main difference between assistance and co-teaching. By sharing roughly equal air time, your students feel looked after two skilled teachers which adds more quality and value for the session you teach. If you feel that you talked too much, learn to invite your co-teacher to contribute. However, we did find that it is harder the other way round… when you are aware that your co-teacher is talking too much and you don’t want to feel like you’re in a market over talking on each other, or worse talking too much at your students together. Of course in some projects one of you might have more airtime when another is overlooking the behind the scenes. Make sure that you make each other’s work visible.
3. See the bigger picture
Some projects will require more skills from one person or another, so remember to turn your eagle vision on and observe the bigger picture, simply saying the next project might require the other to contribute more
4. Keep it positive!
Never ever make your co-teacher look lower. If in some ways you feel you did – make sure to shine a light on it saying ‘this sounded like my co-teacher didn’t do this but …’. Always big each other up, have each other’s back and never portray a struggle in teaching together with others or especially with your students.
Enjoy the teaching experience and each other’s company. If you enjoy your session, the students will enjoy it too. As teachers and space holders, we set the tone of our classes. That extra smile, joke and personal touch towards each other and your students will go a long way in your teaching careers.
6. Embrace the many facets of being a yoga teacher
This profession is much more than just teaching a class. If you are teaching already, whether you like it or not, you might be well aware of this fact already: people ask you about your opinion on many things: nutrition, relationships, self –love and so on. And even if they don’t ask for your opinion directly, you are influencing your students in more or less direct ways. We believe that if we embrace more fully our impact on people – the better teachers we become! Naturally, as co-teachers we are role models of relating to each other, of non-competitive cooperation. We believe that the world would be so much better place if we would learn to cooperate and trust each other as a society. We feel privileged to deliver this message over and over again
7. Give constructive feedback
Make time to discuss the session you just taught. Co-teaching, as any other relationship requires transparency otherwise every time you choose to stay silent on one subject or the other, it will create more and more distance between you two. Once the constructive feedback conversation is over – it is over. Decide that anything that is being said is nothing to hold against or to be reacted to in a defensive way. Constructive feedback is a practise of vulnerability and you can only build a strong relationship on true trust. How awesome to have somebody by your side whom you trust to speak with you in a complete honesty? It is great to routinely discuss few things, positive and evolutionary:
- What went really well?
- What did you enjoy the most in your own teaching? Your co-teacher’s teaching?
- How would you like to improve?
- How in your opinion your co-teacher could improve?
- Set the goals/ focus for the consecutive teaching session
8. A day off is a day off
Decide on which days when you do not talk about work! Especially if you are a couple or close friends and work together, it is easy to dwell back to the work subjects. However, it is not a great place to be in when relationship is built only on work. Friendship is more important, and it is more than co-teaching, it is about creating moments together, knowing the other and oneself.
We hope that whoever you are, you are enjoying your co-teaching experience as we do. We see it as a blessing that gives us focus in life, and helps us refine our offerings by focusing on each other’s strengths, and as any practise, it ripples to our daily life, and we learn to apply these co-teaching strategies to the relationships in our lives. After all, life is all about mastering relationships.