Thursday, February 25, 2010

My New Job!

That's right, I got a new job this week!  Woo hoo, go me!  (I've spent half my time bumming around and being slightly broke since I finished grad school, and it's been getting kinda old.)

My new job is a part-time gig with an SAT test prep company.  (This one, if you are curious.)  I'll be teaching weekly classes, doing private tutoring, and running a few workshops.  So far, I'm really impressed with the company.  I like the people who I've met and I like the way they've put together the curriculum.  I applied for the job online (after finding the craigslist listing, of course), went through a little Skype interview, and then got invited to a 2-day training session, which they consider their "second interview."  The training was on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  I spent the whole weekend watching their training videos and cramming like crazy.  (Thank goodness for my memory!)  At the end of the first training session, my new manager said, "Ok, I'm really impressed, I'm gonna be hiring you, and are you interested in teaching an SAT writing workshop at the high school on Wednesday and Thursday?"  So I spent all day Tuesday going over material, went to my 2nd training session on Tuesday night, and then spent all of yesterday and today at the local public high school, teaching high schoolers.

Let me repeat that - I just taught high school students.  I find this bizarre and shocking and totally exciting!

Some of the classes were well behaved.  Some of them were totally crazy and out of control.  Some of them were filled with distractions - school bulletins, lunch, the end of the day, the sports teams' victories, etc.  I taught the same 2-day workshop to 4 different groups, and every one of those periods was a unique experience.  You know how teachers always say that they learn the most from their students?  And it's kind of a clique, because it's been repeated so many times?  I totally get what those teachers are talking about now, because I learned tons!  I learned how to improvise.  I learned when to laugh and "go with it," and when to take control and use my "loud voice."  I learned how to adjust my plans based on time, based on attention spans, based on teacher feedback, and based on blind guessing.  When I say that I "learned," what I really mean is that I started to learn, because these are all huge things that I hope to get better at with practice!

I am shocked at how much overlap there is between this SAT test-prep job and my future Bikram yoga teaching job!  First, let me state the obvious: teaching high schoolers has got to be great practice for teaching yoga, because it's hard to imagine that any group of yogis could be harder to manage than a group of average high school students.  (No offense to any readers who are high school students themselves!  Come on - you go to high school - you know what some of the kids in your classes are like!!)  At least yoga students, for the most part, really want to be there and have some interest in learning!  With high school students who don't even care about the SAT, you're fighting an uphill battle all the way.

I've also noticed tons of overlap that I didn't expect.  The very first page that my trainer had me "teach" for her during training was a page about getting in the "test zone."  In a nutshell, it was saying that there may be tons of distractions in your surroundings that you can't do anything about (when you take the test), so you have to worry about the things you can control: your physical state and your state of mind.  Um... hello?!?  Is this not one of the biggest, best, and most important things that we work on in Bikram yoga??  I had no trouble teaching that page.  I was in my element!

This job also gives me a great opportunity to work on my speaking voice and energy.  During the training on Monday, we did a mock teaching thing where I went through and delivered parts of the curriculum for a couple people.  At the end of the session, my trainer told me that I speak very concisely and clearly - thank you yoga, thank you blogging!  She also said that not only do I have a lot of energy (which I knew), but I also have a lot of control over my energy (which was a surprise).  Apparently I was very focused whenever I spoke, and I also brought my energy up every time the energy in the room started to dip down.  I had no idea that I was doing that.  How cool!  This was the most exciting feedback ever!  I felt pretty good about myself after that...

Unless my feelings change, I definitely plan to hold onto this job when I come back from teacher training; the pay is good, the work is fun and interesting, it keeps me on my toes, and it'll be a way to earn a bit of income without sweating my balls off for 4+ hours every single day!!  Hooray for conservation of electrolytes.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Juliana, this is SO, SO awesome!!! I mean, I thought you were a born teacher anyway---in the yoga studio or elsewhere. But it sounds like you're uncovering that yourself and enjoying it! And getting paid! (Okay, enough with the exclamation points.)

Seriously. That's awesome. Congrats. I'm so, so stoked for you.

Happy weekend! :)

lz said...

You must be so incredibly excited! Your job sounds awesome - isn't it interesting how there are so many (unexpected) connections between teaching high school writing and teaching Bikram yoga? You're so right: it's all about the energy, especially being aware of and responding to the students' in-class nonverbal "feedback" (how attentive they are, etc). Since you pay so much attention to your energy, and how to improvise and go with the flow, you will definitely be a spectacular teacher!!

Lady J said...

Your new job sounds awesome! What wonderful comments from your teacher! It seems like this is going to be a great lead in for TT.


Big G said...

Over the years I've taught/tutored people from age 4 on up. You're definitely correct. A room full of yogis is MUCH easier than teaching kids!

Yolk E said...

Yay for new experiences! Teaching can be so rewarding, to say nothing of the amazing experience you'll get. The universe does have a way of throwing curveballs when we least expect them, but I can see you have the wisdom to manage it well when the moments come up!

aHappyYogi said...

Yeah for you!

You will learn so much from teaching high school students! I an happy for you that you get this opportunity that is not only learning but also giving you an income!

Anonymous said...

Hi There I'm your new follower. First Congrats on your new great job. I am a former preschool teacher. Anyway, just started blogging about my new yoga adventure ... Bikram. Enjoyed reading your blog posts. Hope you visit my blog and be yoga blog friends. Namaste

ActionJoJo said...

Congrats on the new job J!!! Sounds like there are so many parallels and synergies that you identified. So happy for you and yay for earning good money without losing the electrolytes!!!

KatieO said...

Well, Juliana, yet something else for you to excel at, eh? While I am not surprised that you could pick up this new work easily, you have tackled the hardest population (again, not to insult high schoolers). Even when you did the SAT prep before, that was with kids who were there by choice, and their parents were paying a lot. Sounds like you have that kind of kid, too, but partly, being in the school like you described, that is the big challenge. Wonderful experience. You will learn a lot and I know you will enjoy it. Your energy and your willingness to be really present, these are your strengths here. Very different from your self-described time where you felt alientated from your environment (pre yoga!). Again, just crazy proud of you. Isn't it interesting that both my girls are science/math geeks AND teachers?

thedancingj said...

Thanks guys!!

Hannah - You are the sweetest! I LOVE that you thought I was a natural teacher. It never occurred to me that I was supposed to be teaching - in fact, I used to think it sounded boring and Not For Me - but now I am totally excited about it! Yay exclamation points!!

lz - Yeah, the energy seems to work the same way in almost EVERY situation. Teaching a group, taking a class, talking to a person... following the energy always makes a big difference. It's actually VERY hard, but so interesting.

Juliana (love that) - Thanks! Those comments definitely made my night.

G - Oh man, I don't know what would be more challenging: working with teenagers or working with little kids! I am SO impressed right now by pretty much everyone who goes into education.

E - Thanks! I've been thinking of you, and still need to formulate an email for you...

Cristina - I know, right? Learning AND money - what could be better?

JoJo - SYNERGY, that's the word I was trying to remember! ;)

Mom - The last prep class I did was for the GRE, so I was working with adults (who had signed up). Not at ALL similar to this new crowd! Hehe. People are INTERESTING. Anyway, THANKS!

KatieO said...

J, I like what you are saying about energy. It is interesting to watch the energy, follow it, and/or lead it; all different angles of energy. When I lead groups, I first watch and follow, and then if necessary, lead it in a new direction (or just admire the level that it is). I might introject something in an animated voice, or use gesture, to perk things up. Or I might redirect the discussion into more of a heart space. These are Small Group Minstry sessions, but it could be a class or anything. I always can give an "energy report" afterwards. I either feel totally jazzed (energy= engagement, depth of thought) or drained (didn't quite come together).Fun to explore the world of energy!

tracik said...

CONGRATS on your new job!

bikramyogachick said...

Congrats! That is the PERFECT job for you!
Being the mother of a freshman in high school, I can relate to what you say about them being a challenging group to teach. It's like teaching bikram with 10 newbies. :)