My last blog post had a list of ten things to ask about a teaching job before you take it. Since I just gave you the list, I thought I’d give you more detail about each item, along with a few business-specific things you might want to ask:
Is this a new class or an existing one that I’ll be taking over? It’s helpful to know if the prior teacher taught a specific style. Find out why there’s an interest in trying a new teacher, if indeed you’re following someone else. For private gigs, there might have been a lull between you and the prior teacher. Find out if the lull was about waning interest, funding issues or some other factor. If this is the first time they are offering yoga that would be critical to know because you’ll be building the program from the ground up. You’ll be the first one dealing with logistical issues as well as helping people experience the practice, many, possibly for the first time.
What style of yoga do you expect to be provided? If you’re teaching in a non-studio setting, you’ll be seen as the “expert” and will let the client know the style you’ll be providing. However, if you’re taking the class over from someone else (studio or non-studio location), it’s important to know their style, if they used music or if anything else was special about the class. Also, don’t forget to read the description on the studio website, if applicable, and modify it to be sure it matches what you’ll be doing. I find this to be of particular importance if you’re teaching a heated style and the person before you did not (or visa versa).
Is there a particular age group for the class? This really only applies to children’s classes. I’ve found that when teaching kids, the age groupings can make a big difference in terms of what you can offer. Having the toddlers separate from the 4 year olds (and up) allows you to customize the toddler class towards what they enjoy (singing, games) and with the 4 year olds together as their own group, you can provide more instruction as they are better able to follow direction.
Is there a current space provided that has been used before for classes? If not, what are the other options for where the class can be held? If you’re teaching in a non-studio setting, check out the room designated for yoga classes before your first class. You’ll want to be sure the space is appropriate and determine how you’ll want the students to set up their mats. Employers may not realize what kinds of space they have available that would work for a class. If the space they’ve selected doesn’t work well, see what else might be there.
Is there any set up that is needed for the class? If so, who will be setting up and breaking down the room? Find out if the room will have tables and chairs that need to be moved, find out where they go and if you’ll be expected to move them. It’s certainly understandable, given time and the risk of injury, that you ask the client to provide someone to set up and break down the room before or after class. If this isn’t possible, be sure to allow extra time for this. You might also want to increase your fee to cover for this extra time, effort and risk
Will there be someone from the facility with me during the class? When teaching kids, it is usually standard protocol for the client to provide you with at least one teacher or assistant that will be with you in class. This is critical in the case of injury or the unlikely event you need to evacuate the building. More commonly though, it’s necessary to have someone else there so you can keep teaching while someone else handles the kids that might need a little re-directing.
This would also be something to consider when teaching any group with special needs or challenges, such as yoga class in a medical or psychiatric facility, halfway house or other non-studio setting.
If you are teaching children in a studio and there’s no one doing check in for your class, you may be the only adult onsite at the studio. Be sure you know before hand if this is the case so you can have a conversation with the studio about liability, what to do in the case of emergency or any other situation that would require you leave with the children or have to handle something out of the ordinary.
Are there props available in the room? If not, who will provide them? This can be the difference between a good experience and a great experience for students in a corporate or other non-studio class. With the general inflexibility of the population, the need for blocks is critical. In place of straps, you can use towels or suggest students bring a scarf to class. In place of blankets (especially for use under the hips in Pigeon or for under the hips in a Forward Fold) have them bring a big beach towel. Some clients will allocate funds to purchase props. One suggestion is to purchase thick cork blocks on Amazon or other website.
Will there be someone to do check in for the class or will I be doing the check in? This applies to studio classes and is important to know for any existing class you take on or a new one they’re adding for you. In a non-studio setting, chances are you are most definitely doing check-in, if there even is a check-in process at all.
Is there an opportunity to book a series of classes and then re-evaluate the program for an extension on the day of the last class? This can be a great way to give both you and the client a chance to evaluate how it’s going after a few classes. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the class won’t take off. You might also find the commute or set up process to be cumbersome and labor intensive. While these things might be good for discussion, without resolution, they might be sticking points that cause you to decide continuing the class is not worth it. This natural break (usually after 4 classes) will also give your client a chance to get some feedback from the students as well.
Will keys be made available to me to get into the building? Do I need to lock up? Is there an alarm code that I need to know? Find out the details around getting in and out of the building. This is especially important when you’re doing the check in yourself.
Now that we’ve reviewed general questions, here are some business questions you might want to ask:
How often will I be paid and how? (check, cash)
Do I need to fill out any paperwork in order to be paid?
How will I receive my payment? (mail, direct deposit, pick up)
Will there be any money withheld for taxes?
Do you need a copy of my liability insurance policy? Do you need me to add you to the policy as an insured?
Do you need me to invoice for services? If yes, in what format or can I provide my own invoice format?
Do you want me to use a check in sheet so you have a roster of the students?
I have an overall checklist I use when I have client calls so I’m sure to ask everything up front. I also have a Statement of Work form that I can provide to the client if necessary, to document our agreement. While I don’t always provide this, in some cases of unique or highly customized programs, it can be helpful to document the agreement and details.
Lastly, remember that even if you decide not to take the job, end the conversation professionally. You never know when that job you turned down will turn into a future opportunity.