It's a big commitment -- be sure to ask these questions to get the most out of a teacher training.
1. What is your lineage?
It’s a great idea to study many different styles of yoga to find the one that resonates with you. As a student, go wide! However, a teacher training is the time to go deep. Be careful of trainings that cherry-pick from a myriad of styles and teachers in an effort to be “expansive.” The end result for you as a trainee is often knowing very little about a whole lot, and the little you do know lacks cohesiveness. As a teacher, you need to be the expert in the room; it’s hard to do that if you’ve only received a surface training in several styles.
What to do:
Ask for a detailed explanation of the training’s lineage. Look for an answer that gets to a single acknowledged master quickly, as opposed to an amalgam of different schools of thought that someone has pieced together for the training.
2. Is the faculty trained to teach aspiring teachers to teach?
A great asana teacher does not necessarily make a good teacher trainer – they are two very different skill sets. Certainly your teacher trainer should lead a great class, but if she’s going to teach you to teach, then she should have spent some serious time learning the art of teaching teachers from an acknowledged expert. Otherwise, your teacher training may be one extended asana class that leaves you feeling great, but with no real teaching skills.
What to do:
Ask how the faculty members of your training have been trained to teach teachers. (Be forewarned: you might get a blank stare.) Also ask about quality control. The program should have an established methodology that monitors the effectiveness of the faculty.
3. What safety training will I receive?
Every training will tell you it focuses on safety. Be wary of any training that doesn’t tell you safety is the most important point in the entire program. Your students’ safety will be your responsibility, and it’s not enough to tell students to listen to their own body. You must be able to teach safety with absolute clarity and effectiveness.
What to do:
Ask the lead teacher to identify the primary safety point taught in standing postures, inversions, twists, backbends and forward bends. If the teacher can’t tell you clearly in a sentence, don’t expect to know this information yourself at the end of the training, much less how to teach it effectively to your students.
4. How much time is focused on actual teaching skills?
Reciting alignment points at the front of the room is useless if nothing happens in your students’ bodies. To be an effective teacher, you will need training in the art of teaching: how to speak clearly and effectively; how to scan both the room and individual bodies to be sure students are doing what you ask; where to stand in the room for optimal advantage in each posture; how to know when an asana is contraindicated for a certain student and alternatives to give; how to hold the energy of the room; and how to give effective assists. (To name a few.) Ask how these elements will be included in your curriculum, and verify when you will start practice teaching in the program. Have a clear understanding of the type of feedback you will get, and when you will get it. (if you are considering a large training, be sure to find out how many trained faculty will be present to assess your teaching. If there is a low teacher-to-student ratio, don't count on individualized feedback of much depth.)
What to do:
Attend the classes of some recent graduates of the training; if they remain at the front of the room while teaching (or worse yet – practice with the class, which means they aren’t teaching at all), you know you won’t be getting much training in the art of teaching.