I am a teacher’s teacher. This is my calling – this is what I need to do with my life. I have known this for a long time, and yet I try to forget it every once in a while. Actually, I am so successful in repressing this idea, that I explore completely different avenues – completely different career paths – because the ideas that I have, the strong pull towards this career path – has no easy “in.” There’s no “full-time with benefits, sign here on this contract line” that names you as a teacher’s teacher. You sort of have to make it up for yourself.
See, I’ve always known that I am destined to be a teacher. Besides the ample number of career aptitude tests I’ve taken that have pointed me in that direction, I’ve always known that that’s what I wanted to do, in some way. I enjoy public speaking, I enjoy being in front of a classroom, I enjoy acting as a mentor to individuals who are learning something valuable for their lives. In high school, I was a fairly talented artist, so I decided to go to school and be an art teacher.
Cut to three years later, and I’m actually doing rotations out in the field. I am miserable. I hate everything about it. I hate the kids, I hate that they are only in art class because it’s the “easier” elective of the available options, I hate that it’s more classroom management than actual teaching. So, I dropped out of the education program and got a degree in painting. Let me tell you how valuable that has been.
While I was figuring out how much I didn’t want to work in a K-12 school, I started teaching fitness classes. I loved it. Here was something that I could put my energy and enthusiasm into, and teach people who were there because they chose to be there. It was fun. But I got overwhelmed very quickly (ahem, perfectionism), and I took a few months hiatus. I was smart enough to go back to it after I calmed myself down, and it was the best decision I ever made.
So with an art degree and no real job experience, I entered the job market and quickly decided that getting a Master’s degree was my best option. Down to southern Illinois I went to get an MSEd in Kinesiology while running fitness programs at the recreation center. During my time, I developed some managerial skills and administrative skills, but I relished in the light of teaching new students to be instructors. It was my love, and my passion. I had been teaching group fitness for about five years at that point, and I had long sensed the burnout that comes with teaching group exercise. Teaching future teachers, with their energy and passion, revitalized me; their passion inspired me to be a better teacher of them, which was something I was missing during regular group exercise classes.
Now, two years out of school, I am continually questioning what I’m going to do with my life. I contemplated getting a PhD just to be a professor, but after a few phone chats with potential advisors, I faced the reality of how little “teaching” is in the professorial career. So, for now, I’m placing that idea on hold. I worked for a year in corporate fitness, which is what I thought I wanted to do leaving grad school, and now I’m running wellness programs in an independent living retirement home for older adults and employees. I have everything I thought I wanted in life. I have a fairly flexible schedule with weekends off, I teach group exercise classes, I design and run wellness programs. I have a live-able salary and a 401K, and fantastic benefits.
I’ve been able to control my boredom with meditation and by practicing gratitude, but there are days that I know I don’t hide the drain that it places on me. I, up until very recently, taught 14 group exercise classes every week, in addition to my other duties. I love teaching group exercise. It is my passion and my dream. But being “on” that often to a group of people who are only exercising at doctor’s orders is absolutely draining. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Do I get to see residents come in feeling a little under the weather and leave acting a little perkier from endorphins? Yes, and I relish those moments. Are there absolutely sweet residents that I have secretly adopted as an extra set of grandparents? Of course, and those moments pull me through the tougher ones.
But I am not cut out for this, long-term. For a while, I thought I was an introvert, because everyone around me was just draining my energy. I was giving all the time; my tank was empty, and it wasn’t getting filled back up. (I’ve since learned to fill my own tank, thank you very much.) But I’m not an introvert. And I’m not an extrovert. I get energy from some people, while others drain it. It depends on the person, and it depends on what we’re doing.
But I DO know that I get energized teaching people who are enthusiastic. I DO know that I love yoga, and that it’s my real passion. And I know, that even after I begin to teach in yoga studios, it won’t be enough. I have done this long enough, and I know myself well enough, that I know being a yoga teacher will not be enough.
I have to be a teacher trainer.
i have to lead workshops.
I have to develop and run a teacher training program, and maybe a retreat, and maybe an intensive, and I have to run my own business.
So on one hand, it’s super exciting that I know what I’m supposed to do with my life. On the other hand, actually facing it sucks. There’s no “yoga teacher trainer” job. There’s no contract, no job posting, no benefits and no 401K. Whatever I want to do, I have to make for myself. Kind of exciting, but mostly terrifying.
So, there you have it, World. I’m facing up to my reality that I’ve tried really hard to suppress. I will not be satisfied unless this is my path, and I kind of hate actually hitting the publish button because that makes it so much more real. Now, not only am I facing it myself, but I’m telling other people – hey, this is what I want to do with my life, I finally have it figured out… but then that means I have to actually follow through and do something about it.
So, wish me luck. And if you find any job postings that say “Yoga Teacher Trainer,” or, “Group Exercise Teacher’s Teacher,” be sure to forward it to my email.