Early on in my teaching career, when I was green and impressionable, a colleague somewhat imperiously advised me that I would do well to remember that Pilates and Yoga are customer service professions, and to make pleasing clients my priority. At the time, I could do little more than nod with a furrowed, but respectful brow.
In the years that followed, two experiences contributed to me forming my own opinion on this subject. The first is that I certified as a Suzuki Music Teacher. Of course, there are differences between teaching a child and their parent how to be a violin-learning dream team and teaching an adult how to manage their body - but far less than one would think. In the Suzuki Method, the parent, teacher, and child are a trifecta - no one party alone carries all the responsibility, but all equally support one another. The teacher gently and supportively advises the parent how to practice the instrument with the child at home and the parent-child team follows the teacher's instruction, requesting help as needed. I began to see that this teaching model of honesty, cooperation, and pacing progress resonated with me and could potentially be applied to other disciplines.
The second experience that liberated my teaching philosophy was a wonderful yoga teacher training bridge program that I was so fortunate to stumble upon in Vancouver in 2012 led by the ever-inspirational Shannon Cluff. She firmly iterated to us mentees repeatedly not to ape other teachers or cater to clients but to hold firm to the knowledge that our students would find us if we stick to our path of personal development and continuing education with steadfast conviction and discipline.
I am a great teacher. While I am also opinionated as hell, I do try very hard to assess how much of my honesty a student can emotionally and intellectually handle. My most long-term students know that I'm excitable and committed and in my enthusiasm, can be demanding. But they stick around because they love me for it and they also know that I am continuously in search of greater clarity for all of us.
copyright © cicely nelson 2016