Wendy Cook, the owner of Big Rock Yoga in Little Rock, Arkansas, was assisting a Level 2 Baptiste teacher training in Kenya when she realized she wanted to start a teacher training program at her home studio. “There were close to 30 Baptiste teachers assisting around 135 students,” she said. “I knew at that moment what I wanted to be was a teacher of teachers. It was a life changing moment.”
However, deciding to start a teacher training program and actually creating one are two different feats. Cook described the development process as, “forcing yourself to have the same dedication you had to become a teacher, but to channel it into molding and educating others.”
Marketing to the right students is imperative to creating a successful teacher training program. It is important potential teachers know what style of program they are getting themselves into before they spend the large amount of money required for a certification. Cook decided from the start she wanted a program that’s content aligned with Big Rock Yoga, and she made sure everyone interested in the program understood that.
“I am very clear when people call me asking about our teacher training program that I have a non-traditional training based in the traditional roots of yoga,” said Cook. “If someone wants to really learn what I call the ‘intellectual history properties of yoga,’ my training is not the one for them. If they want to practice yoga in ways that impact our modern Western world, this is the training for them. What they experience and discover as a student makes them the strongest teacher.”
When Cindy Trevino bought Joy Yoga in Houston, Texas, she quickly realized the high demand for people who wanted to educate themselves further in yoga through a teacher training program.
Trevino didn’t want to put a limit on who could benefit from teacher training, so she created a program marketable to students interested in various styles. “We created a program that takes our best and most experienced teachers — some that work full time and some that have been around for 30-plus years and are super knowledgeable — and created a training where our students can take the best of what each one brings to the table,” she explained. “They learn to channel their own leadership abilities, how to channel a room, they learn about themselves, and they learn how to create a unique experience in the room for people who take their classes in the future.”
After narrowing down who you will market your program to and who will teach it, it is imperative to decide on the content and curriculum applicable to your students.
Because Cook struggled with finding a teacher training program that fit her schedule when she was pursuing her 200-RYT, she placed an importance on creating a flexible teacher training program format for her studio. At Big Rock Yoga, the teacher training is broken into four separate modules, which can be taken in any order.
“On the start day of any module we have to pull everyone back onto the same page,” said Cook. “You have people who have been to one module, two modules, three modules, no modules. What I love about the format is that it offered repetition. Repetition is the mother of mastery. The repetition of the basics has really brought out stronger teachers through the 200 hours. The modules are great because they are constantly learning to connect with new people, which helps, because as a teacher you are constantly having to do that.”
Creating a teacher training program structure applicable, fitting and unique to your studio like Cook did gives you a marketing advantage in a saturated area of the yoga industry.
The next step is to ensure the students in the program are learning and enjoying it. At Joy Yoga, Trevino said they set mid-point and completion surveys to ensure their program is always becoming better based on student feedback.
“We send mid-point surveys to the students during the middle of training, and then if there are any adjustments we need to make moving forward, we can,” said Trevino. “Our ultimate goal is to provide them with an experience they cherish for the rest of their lives. We also provide a survey at the end to better enhance the training moving forward. This is why the trainings evolve and are different every time, because we use what the students say to constantly better ourselves.”
Most importantly, don’t take all the burden of creating a teacher training program on yourself. Educating others is a lofty task and by spreading the responsibilities around to your trusted staff, you will ultimately create a teacher training program fitting for your target audience.
“You can do it yourself, but it is way better to accomplish and win with a team and not have to bear the load by yourself,” said Trevino. “Once you develop that team, rely on accountability to get things done. Have each person be responsible for something. This way there is that sense of ownership for the people involved in the training. Long gone are the days when you can just offer yoga classes at a studio. It just doesn’t sustain anymore, and a teacher training program will help you in the long run.”