Memoirs of a Poorly Teacher
The strangest things happen when you are ill.
I am speaking from experience as, right this moment, I have a red sore nose, blurry eyes and am typing in between sneezes.
And being poorly is no joke when you HAVE to drag yourself out of bed and get on with your day job.
You see, as a Specialised teacher, i.e. Yoga In Schools, there isn't the option of calling in a favour from another teacher/therapist. And just phoning in sick so that your students miss out can only be in the very exceptional times (such as when I was hit with Flu and literally could not get out of bed for 5 days)!
When you are running on 50% - you still gotta get on with it.
My students have genius minds and they KNOW when I am weak!! Oh they love it when they know I don't quite have the Joi de Vivre of normal and can 'have a little play'.
Young Reece* sits in the corner and his gorgeous little playful eyes light up gleefully when he hears my croaky voice. 'Are you not well Jo?' He asks with a huge half toothy smile.
'I'm not my best' - I splutter in between sniffs. ' Ah - I hope you feel better soon', he responds with a Jack Nicholsonesque sly evil smile. Yeah sure you do Reece.
And why is it that I have scheduled to teach Breath of Fire & Ego Eradicator this week - Cue major snot fest!!!
So how do we cope with teaching Yoga to groups of children when we are Ill. Here are some support tips -
1. Manage your energy levels. I am always teaching my students to self care and that it is ok to take a rest. So when I am not great, I manage my energy levels by taking plenty of rests, fresh air walks and having real down time in between classes. This reserves my energy for when I really need it - in front of the class.
On a side note though - during one of my down times this week, I was delivered a message through meditation to write this Blog - so here it is - like I say strange things happen when you are poorly.
2. Admit you are vulnerable. There was a point at the end of 2018 when I had NO voice whatso ever - not even a whisper. I was running an after school club that contained a Yr 1 child with ADHD, so his attention was a challenge to grab anyway even with a voice. On entering the class I immediately included the children in assisting me with ensuring that 'our' yoga class was still a success even though ihad no voice. It went something like this..... (after using my chime to get their attention and then getting them into a small group around me)
' I really need your help, can you ALL help me today?' [Yes/where is your voice Miss?/ I can't hear you/ Are you ill? - insert all manner of questions here]
'I am fine but I have no voice, so I need your help to run the class. When I chime this chime, you must look at me and I will demonstrate. We are going to play a bit of Follow the Leader'.
It was that easy - the class ran smoothly with them pretty much doing follow the leader with me the whole way through. I barely needed the chime as their eyes were on me. I already had a Yoga Nidra on my Ipod so that was sorted - and the meditations - we did stuff we had done in the past.
When children are given the responsibility of the success of their lesson, and you work together as a group rather than teacher/students it works a charm. It does help that I knew this class well, and the older ones assisted me with the little ones but ALL is doable.
So getting them onside - admitting you are vulnerable and working as a team is THE way to go.
3. Change your Lesson Plans. I plan a whole term of classes in one go - so I may have scheduled a Body Conditioning Flow when my levels are low low low. So this has to change. Don't get caught up in thinking that your students are getting a bum deal by not getting the class you had so diligently planned and systematically put at a place where it corresponds and relates with other themes of the term. Ultimately your students need a Yoga class - and whatever they receive from you will be beneficial. Remember - We are always the Teacher and the Student - so learning and adapting is what we are all required to do -including your students.
And finally - when illness strikes - take it as a golden opportunity to change your lifestyle up a bit. Rest more, hydrate more and Love yourself more.
You are amazing at what you do - and whether you are an accomplished teacher, teacher in training, or passionate Yogi - it all counts, so adapt and smile.
Ok - Savasana anyone?