Fixing Your Teaching “Leaks”
by John Henny
I find gameplay, especially games such as chess and poker, can provide lessons and insights into our life and career choices.
One of the things great poker players often do is to check their game play for what they call “leaks.” A leak is usually something that is not very obvious to them in the moment, and can often appear inconsequential on the surface, but actually cause them to “leak” money in the long run.
Finding and fixing these leaks can make the difference between being a winning and losing player.
I believe as voice teachers we need to be on the lookout for our own leaks, both in how we conduct our business and in our teaching.
One of the big leaks I believe teachers must contend with is the teacher’s ego. This can take different forms and different levels of intensity.
By being IVTOM members, I think it’s safe to assume none of us has the overblown, “I’m the world’s greatest teacher” type of ego. Just being in an organization like IVTOM means you are likely more open to growing and learning than others in our industry.
However, ego can still rear its head with any of us. It’s natural as we continue to gain experience and see our student’s successes to feel confidence and pride in what we do. All of this is healthy.
However ego can often be hiding within this confidence. It often shows itself by slowing our drive to gain more knowledge or closing us off to other points of view.
We might find ourselves dismissing the techniques of a competing local voice teacher or completely discounting methods that may disagree with us on some points. This can cause us to miss some possible insights we may have never before considered.
Recent studies are finding that high self-esteem can actually hinder learning. In fact, students with lower self-esteem are more open to new ideas and will often work harder than their self-satisfied counterparts.
The Beginner’s Mind
There is a concept in Zen Buddhism about maintaining a “beginner’s mind.” It means keeping the same level of openness, excitement and lack of ego as a complete beginner.
Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki writes, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
I can think of no better way to keep the gremlins of ego at bay. Remind yourself daily of what it’s like to be a complete beginner, no matter how advanced you are as a teacher.
You might find this level of openness and lack of preconceptions will boost your teaching and your pursuit of knowledge. This can be a great way of fixing a hidden “leak.”