Teacher Discouragement: How Being a Yoga Student is Helping Me See My Student’s Differently


Yesterday’s class sucked.

I don’t think I went into the afternoon session with a foul attitude, though the one repeat student did ask me before class “um, are you okay, you look upset?” At any rate, we got started and the whole vibe was just off and this is repeatedly wearing me down, despite the good heart-to-heart conversation I had with them a few weeks ago. It just feels the same, and I want to focus on the 10 students who are paying attention, but I get distracted by the remaining students who are screwing around, or sleeping, or just generally spaced out not paying attention.

And so, when I let my class out early, I posted about my chronic discouragement on Facebook, with a somewhat plea for ideas…and the things that I was given back only futhered my frustration with the whole day. It feels like the people who responded, also teachers themselves, just didn’t understand what I already do in my classroom. Calls for using humor, more youtube clips, asking them about their interests, are all well and good…and things I do already…but at the end of the day, I also have to present to them material from the course and expect that the soft-skills of being able to FUCKING SIT IN YOUR SEAT FOR A GODDAMN 20 MINUTES AT A TIME isn’t too much to ask for. How are they ever going to get a job, if that’s what they indeed want, with their milling-around slacker attitudes?

In my almost-ragey attitude, I headed home and off to yoga. Where I proceeded to feel just as angry and this time, not only at my day and my students, but myself. The poses seemed more challenging than before, my mind wouldn’t shut up, I became hyper critical and noticed all the others around me. It didn’t matter that my instructor was positive, gave compliments liberally, and believed we could all do our best. It. Did. Not. Matter. I sat there on my mat, grumpy, almost determined to have a shitty class, and fumed. My day had been shit. My class was going to shit. And my best friend practicing next to me looked like a yoga goddess and it didn’t matter that I knew she cried at work and had as shitty of a day as me. I was in a place of glump.

But even though my brow was furrowed and I didn’t want to be there anymore (but you can’t very well just huff out after only 4 poses), I could tell that I was my student. For whatever reason they can’t get outside their heads, their past experiences, and no matter amount of coaxing, sweet-talking, gentle chiding, sarcasm, humor, or exasperation is going to motivate them to get off their butts and onto their mat and try Trikonasana if they don’t want to. Because anything short of that instructor marching over to me and physically manipulating my limbs into a contorted pose I was NOT going to do it.

I’d like to think it helped me have clarity about my own circus-monkey act in front of my class. But I was still angry and resentful and discouraged when I left, though this blog post was milling about in my mind, so there was probably some movement at least. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I teach them tomorrow. How I’m going to react. If I’ll use more humor, or You Tube clips, or whatnot. But I can’t do the work for them, and I saw that pretty clearly in yoga. She provided the space, and it was up to me to bring my game. And it was my deal when it didn’t go as planned.

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3 Comments

  1. This is a great post that I can tell came out of some really hard and sucky feelings. I think our society has somehow tricked us into thinking that if kids fail to progress in their class, it is somehow the teacher’s fault. But it seems like with your students, as with a therapist’s clients, you can only bring them as far as they are willing to go. Someone once told me that being a therapist means showing a client how to turn on the light in a dark room. And then if they chose to sit in the dark after that, it is their own deal. It kind of seems like that with your students. If you have met them where they are at, and given your side, then you have done your job. And I bet you do it beautifully. I hope those are okay things to say. I heart u.

  2. Sometimes I feel it’s good to feel grumpy…because that helps release the steam..and if sleep it over, somehow the next morning, you don’t feel as bad as the previous day…at least, that’s how I try to deal with my bad days at work…

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