One of the greatest conferences I went to last year was the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. For years I’ve been teaching students and this turns the tables on instructors and instructors and school owners were the ones being taught.

A lot of massage instructors get caught up in a routine and they get burnt out really fast. Instructors usually don’t teach for the money and they do it for the love of teaching (money does help, but it’s not a profession to make tons of money). My dad retired from teaching 5th grade five years ago and one thing that always stuck with me was this saying he told me: “In your first year of teaching you will learn 10x’s more than the students you are teaching” and that was so true. I felt guilty because of it, but I had to realize that teaching is also a learning process. Would I take back some of my teaching methods back in the day…yes I would, but I realized that it helped define my passion for the profession and it fueled me to be the best massage instructor I could be.

Another quote I heard back in the day was this: “Teachers open the doors, but it’s up to the students to enter.” I’ve had my share of students that I know wouldn’t make it but I always challenged them and I told them that I don’t think you are into this and I’m not sure if you are going to make it in this profession. Then I told them I want you to prove me wrong and take this more serious. One of my flaws was being too laid back and not much bothered me teaching, but you has to constantly scope out the class and see who’s getting frustrated, but keep the peace at all times. I used humor as my crutch and if things got a little tense in class, I would crack a joke and distract them.

Now back to the AFMTE conference. I really wish there was those type of classes for new instructors back when I started teaching over 11 years ago and to think how many resources massage instructors have at their digits in this day and age (no pun intended).  In 2001 when I started teaching, there wasn’t much for resources on the internet and I searched long and hard to find more information for my students. I was hired on a Friday, given a book and started teaching on Monday (I bet many of the instructors out there were in the same boat) and I luckily found and that saved the day. I’ve heard of some schools requiring people interested in teaching take teaching classes even before they’re hired and that makes a lot of sense and the more prepared you are, the less you have to constantly be 10 steps ahead of your students.

What’s really hard about teaching is many people think there way is the best, but it’s only works for that instructor and you have to find your own groove. Like I said before, I used a lot of humor, but it wouldn’t work for someone that doesn’t like to joke around much. When I first started teaching the other instructor told me to mostly lecture in a techniques class and that only lasted for one week. After that, I made the lectures into hands-on instruction and the students were shocked, because they were use to being lectured all the time.

So if you are interested in teaching massage, make sure you realize that there is a lot more than just picking up a book and teaching from it.

This blog post is written by Ryan Hoyme

Valuable Resources:
Alliance for Massage Therapy Education
Education and Training Solutions