This past week, my boyfriend Alan attended my class. It was an all-levels, super sweaty, fast-paced asana extravaganza. I must say (as did he), I was on top of my game. We regularly share our experiences of the day. I report my little triumphs, admit my mistakes, and basically I unload the entire backstage story of my working life. On Monday, he got to experience it front and center, in real-time.
I am a lucky girl. Alan is thrilled to assume the student role in the student-teacher relationship. In class, he heard my voice, took note of the words I’d chosen. He wanted to perform well for me. And in turn, I wanted to do the same for him. I wanted both to impress him and let him in on my public working life.
But I know many teachers that don’t like it when their partners are in class. It can be nerve-racking, I’ll admit. The experience can feel all too sincere, too irony-free, too exposed. You’re out in the open, performing and talking with no hiding place to speak of. As a teacher you’re in a position of authority and leadership. This can be an incredibly challenging space to step into. Especially so, when you’re just beginning to establish a loving, supportive and balanced relationship with one of your students. (As I am.)
So, how do you keep your cool? Simple: Assume one role at a time. And trust that you can retain all aspects of yourself even when you’re only exercising one specific role. You are teacher, leader, guide. Also, partner, lover, friend. These things can co-exist. We, as love filled beings, can prioritize which role is appropriate and up-front at any moment or situation. Alan can be my student in class, and simultaneously be my partner. That makes him the most flexible person I know.