A long time ago now, I was the Director of Admissions for Trinity College’s Weekend College. Weekend College was a premier adult education program in the city, at one time enrolling over 600 women for their undergraduate liberal arts degree. Most of the women were mid-career professionals in the government and all of them made tremendous sacrifices to attend, since all the classes happened on the weekends. Not one of the women in the program failed to inspire me with her drive and her fortitude for breaking glass ceilings of race, gender or social status.
This was so long ago that the main way to market the program was to be invited to an educational fair at the some of the larger government agencies. Even though Trinity enrolled plenty of women from these places, it was still really hard to snag an invite. A friend at Johns Hopkins’ extension campus in DC was also having a hard time, since most HR folks at these government agencies wondered why they should invite a Baltimore school to their fairs. We decided to combine our energies and create a collaborative group of adult education professionals to get a bigger foot in the door.
By the time I left Trinity, there were over 20 adult education programs working together to meet students where they worked. It was a win/win/win. Human Resources professionals only needed to make one call instead of 34 to arrange an education fair; those of us in working together collaboratively not only met our enrollment goals, but we met colleagues who could support and help us in our work; and students had a range of options — weekend college, graduate programs, credit for life experience, nascent on-line programming — that offered them choice, the right price for their personal budgets and access to education that wasn’t afforded to them when they were younger.
The DC Yoga Co-op could be win/win as well. Not only would we have the support of a broad and diverse community of teachers and practitioners, there would be power in our numbers.
Using my imagination, I see that together yoga teachers could…
- provide quality continuing education to one another at a much more affordable rate.
I am lucky to work in a studio where there are more than a handful of teachers who E-RYT and/or over 500 hours of documented training. Many of them are recognized for their expertise and their ability to run wonderful educational programs. Yet I see many studios reaching out to nationally known names and these programs are costly to studios and to students. Couldn’t we do this for ourselves? Speaking of education — couldn’t we educate each other on keeping physically and emotional safe on the job? About keeping ourselves informed about sexual harassment or the latest in trauma-informed teaching practices so that we keep our students safe?
- reach a broader and more diverse group of students than we can on our own.
I’m a lot like of my colleagues in that I teach other places in the community beyond my studio, but I have a hard time getting this information out to people. I have this website — a blog really — but very little cash, expertise or time to get my message out to a wider audience. If I pool my resources with other yoga teachers in a co-op, I could have a larger marketing footprint. And this could be win/win for students: right now, a yoga student must Google to get to a listing of studios near by or turn to Yoga Alliance for a list of registered independent teachers. Then comes time spent researching every single one to arrive at an appropriate practice. Together teachers could not only market ourselves, we could educate new and seasoned practitioners alike about the diversity of yoga practices that exist in the DC metro region. And, just following my imagination to the nth degree: What if the co-op was the best source for a new-to-yoga class in the area? What if we could get grants to take this program to places that need yoga the most? I know that together we could create something incredible for the community.
- share information about job openings.
Likewise, as a collective group of teachers, we could be that one stop shop for studio owners and corporate entities looking to fill a yoga teacher position, or businesses looking for a yoga teacher for that lunch-time class.
- sub each other’s private clients.
Right now, when I go on vacation or take a continuing education break, my private clients have to take a break from their practice. I would love to develop relationships with others who work with older adults in their homes so that we could sub each other’s private sessions when we need a break or are sick.
My imagination about power in numbers can take me lots of different places — how about advocacy around job security and safety? Or helping each other out with the basics of running a business — accounting, taxes and the like? Could we share professional services like these? A friend with a bold imagination even mentioned the co-op eventually owning a piece of land for a no-frills retreat center…all I can say is: wow.
The sky’s the limit in what we accomplish better together. What value are you looking for from a yoga co-op in the DC region? Write me or better yet: attend the meeting on January 21 so we can discuss in person. Leave a message for me here and I’ll write you back with details.