Anyone who is a yoga teacher usually gets a large portion of their early work as a substitute for more senior and well-established teachers. And, as you continue to teach and build a schedule, you will require coverage for your regular classes from time to time. A lot of the work acquiring subs usually resides with the teacher, and the process is often tedious and time consuming. However, there is some good common sense etiquette to follow that might make the flow of things a bit easier for all. Below is my two cents on the matter: some things that I see becoming too common and and how we might do a little bit better.
“I’m teaching yoga to 10,000 people in at the Chai latte American Freedom Yoga Festival. I need you to cover my amazing classes while I am gone. They are a great group who spread rose petals on the ground and shower me with praise after our transformational end of class oms.”
What prevents you from teaching your classes is of little or no importance to the person who might potentially cover it. One could care less if you’re binge watching Friends before it leaves Netflix, or teaching in faraway exotic places — because it has nothing to do with their schedule and ability to fill in for you. Maybe re-think your wordage so it is less about you and more about the class and the potential sub.
That being said, maybe it’s time to re-think using how great the group is as your selling point. I have definitely been guilty of this, because honestly, it’s nice to be enthusiastic about who you teach. But it doesn’t give us any information about the class, and honestly we don’t know who is going to show up when we are not there. They might not be great that day!
What if we shared some helpful information about the level and style of the class? Because, frankly in this day and age, general styles like Vinyasa Yoga and Power Yoga can mean many different things to people. So stay enthusiastic, but clue your sub in on what to expect when they step in the room for you.
“I’m I might have a 3rd call-back for America’s Next Top Yoga Teacher. Can any one standby to sub my gorgeous group of early am yogis at 6:15am. I will let you know by 4am—at the latest!”
I’ll admit this is a bit of a grey area, and I think that there are times when a friend or co-worker can help you out in uncertain times. But lately there is a trend of getting stand-by subs for so many reasons. I get that life has its ups and downs, and the weather continues to surprise and suck. Money in this business is also hard to come by. But consider before you send out that standby request that no one wants to maybe work. Someone subbing your class is already doing you a huge favor. So if there is a chance you won’t be there, save everyone the suspense and just get it covered.
Too. Many. Emails.
We’ve all been there: No one on earth can sub your class. While there is an abundance of yoga teachers there are times when the timing is off. After the 2nd or 3rd attempt, contact management and ask them to help you. Also, start calling and texting. Emails are too easy to ignore and sometimes, NO MATTER HOW MANY CAPS WE USE, the sense of urgency gets lost in cyberspace.
Sub needs a Sub
“Help, I’m in Helsinki and my sub tore something in Contortion Class. Can you re-sub my 6pm class?”
Ouch! As much as our injured friend needs to rest, they’ll also need to try to get that class covered for you. Of course, let the original teacher and studio know right away and I am sure they will help as much as they can. But if you agree to sub a class, it’s your class, and therefore your responsibility. The only exceptions I can think of is if you have a prior agreement otherwise or it is an absolute dire emergency.
There are no doubt a few other things to keep in mind, and I am sure some of you will disagree with some of these ideas. I think that is a good thing, because we can all learn from each other as we support one another in this business. And although this was a bit tongue and check, the intent behind this is that our relationship with our community of teachers can be improved if we have more respect for each other’s time and effort. I have learned that over the years—sometimes the hard way— and I strive to continue to do so.
What do you wish teachers and managers would/could/should do to make the process of finding subs easier or more palatable?