Transitioning from Treatment Room to Classroom: 3 Steps to Becoming a Teacher

istock_000002974686mediumSo you want to teach in massage school?

Quite frequently I hear from practitioners who have been practicing for many years, have many clinical successes under their belt, and now they want to give back. They see what a struggle it can be for new practitioners. They want to help those who are new to the profession be successful at private practice and be successful at helping their clients.

If this sounds like you, that’s terrific! Entry-level programs need you. The hands-on professions are much like apprenticeships where learning from a skilled practitioner is essential. Your hands-on expertise, as well as your client communication skills, is invaluable in this experiential learning environment. Unfortunately, content expertise is not enough. Teaching anything, even if you are an expert, also requires specific teaching skills.

While you may be ready to transition from the treatment room to the classroom, additional preparations are necessary. Here are 3 things you can begin doing today to best prepare for success in the educational environment.


Get Comfortable In Front of a Crowd

If you are not already doing so as part of your marketing plan, give presentations. Local clubs and organizations in your community enjoy having guest speakers at their luncheons and other events, especially healthcare providers and wellness experts! You can practice giving demonstrations and talking about the benefits of your work. These presentations can help you work through common anxieties of speaking in front of a group. And here’s an added bonus: you may get additional clients!

[To learn more about giving presentations, see Present Yourself Powerfully by Cherie Sohnen-Moe.]


Learn Teaching Methodologies

Being a good teacher is much more than being a content expert. You may know what topics a new practitioner needs to learn to be successful, but you must also understand how people learn and how to help people learn.

You can begin by joining a group of educators like the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) or the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE). Study the competencies that make a good teacher by reading the Core Competencies for Massage Teachers created by the National Teacher Education Standards Project.

Next, take some online courses through these or another of the various organizations dedicated to quality care and education…

The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) and AFMTE both have online training centers sponsored by MaxKnowledge:

ABMP offers Instructors on the Front Lines workshops.

AMTA has Master the Classroom for Educators online courses.

And there are plenty of additional resources available online for educators, so do your homework. You didn’t become the terrific practitioner you are now without some preparation, so think of teaching as an additional skill for which you must prepare.


Incorporate Practice-Building Skills in Every Classroom

You may have phenomenal hands-on skills that have largely contributed to your clinical and practice successes, but you also have business and communication skills. Although your dream may be to teach a hands-on class, learn to incorporate those other professional development topics into your thought-processes. Your students may expect to learn to give the best massage in your classroom, but they also deserve to know how to become a successful practitioner.

Many schools make the mistake of only talking about practice building, business, ethics, and communication in those specific business or professionalism classes. Students need to hear that those topics are important in every classroom. So prepare yourself to talk about professional development as well as hands-on technique. Besides, if you learn how to teach the various aspects of business and professionalism, you may be a better candidate for a teaching position.

To learn more about teaching professional development topics, watch this 10-minute slide-presentation video about using the Sohnen-Moe Associates educational products in your classroom:

Make no mistake, teaching is hard work, but I have found no better satisfaction than helping others prepare for the career of their dreams. I wish you the best of luck attaining yours!

And for any of you teachers out there, add your additional suggestions to the comments below…