This week I paid a visit to a school to teach a Yoga class to Transition Years. Over the years teaching Yoga I have been to many schools and teaching teenagers is definitely a different game than teaching adults.
Friends often ask me now do I miss teaching in school (As I was a secondary school teacher), and to be honest the answer is multi layered. There are aspects I miss and then, as I know in some capacity or another for my life I will always be a teacher it does not feel like I have lost anything. I still get to teach and work in an area I love and I have brought all the skills and experiences I have had with me.
I really enjoy teaching mainly adults now, however, there are some notable differences and what I feel is often over looked is what teenagers can actually teach us adults rather than the other way around.
What I notice a lot with the groups I teach in schools is that they are not laden down by opinions or habits formed. Sure, there are always exceptions and definitely I've had some groups or individuals who do have their own opinions! More often than not though, they have not experienced Yoga, they don't really have any thoughts on it and are open to the idea of something new. It is refreshing to be around those with a clean slate and genuine curiosity.
When trying something new, whenever I teach teenagers, the vulnerability in the room is so clear. It may not be necessarily said but it can be felt. I in no way see this as a bad thing and a lot of us adults could benefit from expressing our own vulnerabilities a bit more and spend less time trying to look like we have it all figured out, trying to cover up or deny our vulnerabilities.
Willingness to try
Even while vulnerable, even when faced with a new activity and a new teacher they may not have met before, most of the groups I encounter over time are willing to try and give things a go.
The other day with the group of transition years I taught some fun poses like splits, headstand and Crow pose and the pure joy some of the girls expressed at 'messing' around and just trying was so refreshing. They were smiling and laughing and happy not just through achievements but through the process.
In my experience, many of the teenagers I teach are not afraid to tell me what they think! I love this, if they don't like something, or think it is weird, they will tell me and even if it is not in words, the honesty in their faces and body language tells me I may need to explain something a bit more or go back a step or pivot.
The biggest lesson of all that I enjoy learning from teenagers is humility. No matter how advanced I might become physically or in my teaching, no matter how many years I have been doing something, a group of teenagers have the ability to pull you up on everything and get you to reassess your methods. They want to be seen, they want to learn, they want to get value from the session or class, they don't care how much I know or what I can do, it is about what I can help them do or feel.
Overall I'm sure there are a lot of exceptions but what can seem like a one way street of adults imparting knowledge or lessons to teenagers can actually be a two way process. If we can keep as we get older some elements of our approaches when we were teenagers how would that help in taking up and learning new skills? How would that help in our relationships and our life choices? How would it help us stay fresh, young, open minded, willing and excited about our bodies, our lives and our experiences?