In all things human
Still from "Office Space," very funny movie involving spectacularly bad management.
Still from “Office Space,” very funny movie involving spectacularly bad management.

I recently received  an email from a former student.  As a newer teacher, we are obviously excited about teaching and eager to take advantage of opportunities when they arrive.  However, they may not always be the right opportunities!  Here’s what she wrote:

“I do hope you are well! I need some advice, and I was hoping you could offer some.

I have been subbing for a fantastic yoga teacher who has offered me a couple permanent classes. Unfortunately the subbing has not been going well and the management is a real drag to get a long with. They don’t answer e-mails, classes have been canceled and I don’t find up until I get up there, room changes that I am unaware of and doors locked that don’t get opened until half way through the class…

Although the money is great and I don’t want to disappoint the teacher, I feel like I need to pass on the classes. However, I am concerned that I should just suck it up and take the money and experience…. If you have the time to offer any advice it would be greatly appreciated.” What an amazing question!  When we’re just starting off, we often feel pressured to take experience – any experience! – because we love yoga and want to dive in.  My response:

“Trust your instincts.
Express gratitude for the opportunity, but politely decline.  You are not disappointing her (and if you are, then that is her challenge and not yours)..she is offering you something that would need to benefit both of you in order to be a win/win.  And given the situation, it would not.  As much as they audition US, we are also auditioning THEM.
Depending on your relationship (or her inquiries), you could choose to be honest.
“I admire your teaching and am very grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me.  I would love to find a situation that works for both of us.  I have had a few experiences that are a little unsettling and are giving me pause from accepting the classes. (Detail the issues – specifically and non-judgmentally.)  When these communication issues occurred, I felt unimportant and ill-at-ease – especially because I have to travel such a distance to get to the studio.  If I were to join your community, I would want to feel confident that we could communicate earlier about studio changes.  What are your thoughts/ feelings around that?”
If it’s just too far and not worth discussing, then a polite “thank you for the opportunity, but it’s not the right opportunity given my other obligations right now” will suffice.”
Subjecting ourselves to unprofessional management isn’t part of a karmic debt. Evaluate each opportunity as it comes, and consider the proposition in view of the greater tapestry of your life.
  • Will this experience elevate or diminish me?  
  • Am I holding them to the same professional standards that I hold myself?
  • Do I truly feel good about accepting the management limitations because of the experience I will be gaining?
  • What are my instincts?
When we’re starting out, we don’t always have access to the teaching options we desire.  But we do have the power to say “No” to situations that will not serve us.  Being a newer teacher isn’t carte blanche for inappropriate managerial behaviour.  Make your decision clearly weighing your options.  And remember – other teaching opportunities will arise.  Keep your eyes on the studios and management that feel like your community, and focus your efforts there.
Happy teaching!
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