I’m headed to the PMA Annual Meeting next week to teach mat classes and also attend as a student. I’ve been teaching Pilates for just under 20 years. I’ve owned a studio, taught teacher training and CEC courses and even have an entire podcast dedicated to the subject from which I make my living. As an educator and lifelong student, I will never stop learning, investigating and doing my best to help others do the same. However, when looking back on the large stack of CEC certificates I’ve collected, I find myself curious about what shows up in my day to day and what never left the manual.
The question of the subjective relevance of continuing education comes up each year in my teaching practice. I no longer have a brick and mortar studio where new people are coming in on the regular. This means that the amount of “new” scenarios I see is limited. I’ve got a static clientele who have each been with me for over a decade. At times, we navigate through new conditions but mostly work with the general changes that are happening in their lives.
I believe that I am competent and effective in my teaching. I have a passion for what I do and am solid in my teaching philosophy and voice. So how much education do I really need to continue to do my job well? This week’s post explores just that:
In the beginning, I believed a mat certification was all I wanted and needed. The training I received for matwork opened my eyes to all that existed with the equipment. After completing my first comprehensive studio training, I realized that I wanted more anatomy and biomechanics – like the personal trainers at the gym where I was working had. As I grew the studio at the health club, I began to hire Pilates Teachers who had stories to tell about Joseph Pilates that they had learned in their training. I didn’t have that. I wanted that. I enrolled in a classical bridging program.
Right before the start of that program, I found Ron Fletcher’s work. The Fletcher Teachers had answers – to everything. There was structure and sequence and long lean bodies. AND they also had J.P. stories! I didn’t have those things. I wanted those things. I changed my course of training.
The stories go on and on and on. I see something I don’t have. I want that thing. I get that thing. I see something else I don’t have…. you get the gist. It’s been an ongoing cycle of chasing after the things I didn’t have, thinking they were things I needed. At the end of the day, I can so easily draw a line from the courses and training that continue to influence my teaching to this day. Many of the others were beautifully crafted courses, but truly didn’t hold relevance to the clientele that I had or the type of work I wanted to do. As an accomplished teacher, I can always appropriate the information I have to my current clientele. But if I’m being honest, sometimes more equals more stuff for the session but less relevance to the client.
The short answer I’ve found is that Pilates Teachers do not need ALL of the training to effectively do their job. We can always learn, but we have some pretty fabulous skills that come out of our comprehensive training. These skills take time to marinate and the shiny object of Continuing Ed can sometimes make it feel like it will speed up the process. So how do we decide where to invest our time and money? The following are some guidelines that I’m using for my choices at the PMA as well as for my future endeavors.
I’ve decided that if I’m going to a course, it had better challenge what I already know. I’m going to go in with mouth closed and ears opened. I’m going to absorb and digest the information and work to fill in the blanks that might exist as I process it. I’m going to embrace discomfort and fill up with stimuli that is different from what I’m used to teaching.
I’m going to seek out subjects that have NOTHING TO DO WITH PILATES. I’m going to maintain my CEC’s but also put myself into business, tech and entrepreneurial forums that offer info and support for the growth of other professions (there go those appropriation skills again…) I’m going to make sure I’m listening from a lot of different teachers with differing opinions and experiences than my own.
The education I investigate must have relevance to my future, not my present. If I’m on a growth trajectory, I want to be sure that I’m setting my future-self up with some support. I may not have everything I need to use the info at present, but I will remember that where I am is not where I’m headed and invest in education that will serve me soon.
Having established these guidelines makes my choices for courses look so different than ever before. the process might even get messy, but messy is where growth happens. I’m curious to hear how you are making your choices about your future education? What resonated from this post? What kinds of endeavors are you interested in seeking out? What’s holding you back?
I look forward to reading your comments!