On Oct 1, 2022, we held our third and final Sutra Talk hosted by…
After several months of transition, IYAC/ACYI was ready to carry out a full teacher assessment under the new guidelines provided by RIMYI in Pune. Of course, in this world of COVID-19, getting together in person for an assessment was not possible. Leslie Hogya, of Victoria BC, describes for us the experience of this virtual assessment weekend.
The weekend of 25 February 2022 saw the first Level One assessment following, as much as possible, all the new Pune guidelines. It was a virtual event, with Vancouver as the ‘host’ community.
Countless meetings and practising with Zoom techniques helped pave the way. Many people were involved with planning and implementing the event. Many thanks to Patricia Fernandes and Louie Ettling who devoted many hours to preparing all the details. There were practice sessions with the tech hosts, meetings with the candidates, and individual meetings with volunteer students ahead of time to ensure they had good sight lines, equipment, sound, and light.
For the February assessment, everyone was participating from their homes or studios. Assessors included Sarah Bertucci in Toronto, Krisna Zawaduk in Kelowna, and Leslie Hogya in Victoria, plus Sylvia Guenter as assessor-in-training in Ontario. The candidates were from Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Kelowna, and the Saskatoon area. The 20 student volunteers were from far and wide, including rural Saskatchewan. The host for the weekend was Louie Ettling, who helped keep everything rolling along and was the connection between all parties. Our technical support was provided by Stephanie Tencer in Toronto and Tracy Harvey in Nanaimo. They had to spend hours on-screen to ensure people moved in and out of the screen as required, and watch to make sure that no-one ‘lost’ their connection. No one did.
Day One of the assessment weekend, the assessors and candidates practised together. This helped calm everyone down. It seemed there was universal approval of this approach and it set a positive tone for the rest of the weekend. There was time for interaction and informal questions. One thing missing in the Zoom world was the sharing of food and the more casual social connections.
Anyone involved in hosting assessments in the past will remember there were vast amounts of paper involved. For the new assessments, there are no clipboards, no elaborate marking sheets. There is just one simple piece of paper to record the results. Any notes taken were done, not while the candidates were practising or teaching, but after they were finished. The whole person was watched, and not the details.
The work done behind the scenes was invaluable to ensure success, and the templates created by Patricia Fernandes will be used for the assessments in coming months.
The process was simpler, kinder and more efficient. I think I can speak for the whole team that we are enthusiastic about the new guidelines and are glad to be putting them into practice. Boundless thanks to Guruji, Geeta, Abhijata, and Prashant for their inspiration.
Below are comments received after the weekend from some of the many participants…
From Stephanie Tencer (Toronto), our invaluable tech support:
“It was wonderful to see how the new guidelines (along with the assessment team!) helped to shape the day. I enjoyed the format a lot and was especially moved by the sense of camaraderie amongst the candidates. Even though they were apart and online, they spoke several times about ‘practising together ‘. It seemed like a very meaningful yoga experience. “
From D’Arcy Blacklock (Saskatoon):
“Dear assessment team:
A sincere thanks for all your hard work, resulting in an environment of sharing and learning. I felt a strong sense of community and support from all involved, leading me towards teaching the Iyengar method in the best possible way!”
From Teresa Stanley (mid Vancouver Island):
“I was so impressed by how smoothly the whole assessment process went thanks to the assessors and teachers handling the coordination and technical support. Being able to practise with the assessors and provide feedback and discussion helped to calm my nerves and really enjoy the experience. “
From Tracy Harvey (Nanaimo), tech support on Sunday:
“Teach with an open heart – During the tech rehearsals with the 20 wonderful volunteer students Zooming from their homes from all corners of the province and beyond, Louie Ettling explained to them that we want to create a situation with as few distractions as possible where the candidates can teach ‘with an open heart’. I was happy to play my small part in helping to achieve that goal.”
From Renee Bruinsma (Vancouver):
“I really enjoyed the assessment:
The years leading up to the assessment, I was working full time managing many people. The assessment was always on my mind. Playing out different scenarios in my head of what the poses will be, how will I sequence, will someone have an injury, how will I prepare, how will I teach? The list goes on and on… And then, my personal practice involving many of the same thoughts and, of course, through my teaching as well. The assessment was always on my mind.
The mental challenge of preparing for an assessment is another thing entirely to prepare for. I now understand thoroughly why it takes many years to finally achieve a Level 1 certificate.
When I found out the assessment was going to be online, I was hesitant and fearful of how it would change the overall process of what I had been a part of for so many years in other assessments. But as we all have had to do through these challenging last few years is learn to let go of what should have been and accept what is here now. So, I did and it turned out very well. It surprised me on how much of a sense of community we were able to build over the three days and I really felt part of something that I would remember forever. I knew I would say to myself after it was all over that I overthought the entire thing and I definitely did, but I do not regret the amount of preparing I did, that we all did. And I told myself that Friday morning that I was going to go with the flow of what all these people who were all behind me, had prepared. I did that, and despite my nervousness, I was able to enjoy the practice, the teaching and the people.
When I look back on the entire seven-year process, I am proud. I am proud that I did not give up and I am proud of what I learned along the way. I am also grateful to my two mentors, Louie Ettling and Patricia Fernandez, for supporting me and pushing me along the way. I could not have done it without them.”