It’s that time of year when we hear about resolutions. Choosing a resolution is similar to setting an intention or sankalpa. For a yogi, it’s often a big part of our lives, a daily (or hourly) practice for some of us. As studio owners we have many balls in the air so prioritizing is important, and that can include prioritizing intentions. It’s a challenging task when so much seems critical to the success of our business. My feeling is that supporting our teachers should be close to the top of the list. Without phenomenal teachers, we are swimming upstream in some very competitive waters. If supporting your teachers is high on your list, here are some suggestions for the new year.
Relationship Building: Relationships require cultivation. There are a lot of ways to convey to your friends and family that they are special and appreciated, and many transfer over to the workplace. Schedule one on one time intermittently to get to know your teachers. Let that be of time of listening and connecting. Make sure they know you are available, as they can often perceive you as being too busy. Take time to say thank you. Show your appreciation for the small things, as well as the big things. Remember, everyone has a different language they use to express and receive affection so experiment with options. A small gift, a thank you note, an act of service, a hug, they are all ways to say you care. Annual traditions like a holiday party or summer picnic are fun ways to bring everyone together to show your gratitude with festivity.
Provide Opportunities for Professional Development: Whenever possible make it affordable for teachers to continue to grow professionally. Let your teachers take each other’s classes and workshops for free. Offer discounts and scholarships when you have guest instructors. Not all teachers are comfortable with technology or using social media. They will feel supported with tools and training that you offer so that they do can market and grow their classes. A guidebook that provided all the essential information for teaching at your studio can be a much appreciated resource. Create class pass cards they can hand out to invite new students to their classes for free. They can be considered teacher comp passes for which the teacher is not compensated, that way it is win-win for the teacher and studio.
Create Community: Extend relationship building. Become more inclusive and creative with events that build community both among teachers and with students. At our studio we offer “Tea with Your Teacher” twice a year. We make homemade cookies and serve tea so that the teachers and students have some time to visit outside of class. Potluck dinners, clothing swaps, mini-retreats, movie nights, kirtans, and book groups are additional options for gathering. Celebrate your teachers by including the students in acknowledging them. Have a Teacher Appreciation Day where students leave notes of gratitude for their instructors. Some communities have a city wide yoga celebration to bring everyone together. Perhaps you’ll start one in your town? Create a closed Facebook group for your teachers to use to communicate with each other. New instructors can share about themselves via this group. Find ways to help them network among themselves such as offering opportunities to collaborate on a workshop. Send emails that are not always all business. An update on all that is going well at the studio, a link to an inspiring Ted Talk or a beautiful poem, all say you care.
Once you get started with this intention you will find many more ways to honor and support your teachers. Happy New Year!