I think all instructors should ask themselves: “Why do I teach? What is my motivation?”
Your reasons affect the type of instructor you are, your understanding of your role, the quality of your instruction, the focus of your lessons, your knowledge of skills, the types of students you work best with, how you interact with students, and your resiliency in hard times.
Some examples of motivations are the love of horses, the love of people or children, the passion for teaching, the passion for sharing information, the passion for a particular equine sport, to make money (I hear you laughing), or for power and prestige.
Your motivation gives you direction. For example, your motivation is your love of horses, so you teach to improve the lives of horses by educating their riders.
Your motivation may also point out warnings. For example, if you teach because it makes you feel good and strokes your ego, be careful you don’t become possessive of your students, instead encourage their independence! Or if your motivation is caring for people, then be careful that you don’t get so involved in your students that you take things personally or receive emotional wounds when riders come and go, change disciplines, leave for college, etc.
I am focusing on this because it helped me. This summer I finally realized I teach because I like horses and I value helping people – I want to share how horses helped me, which was through unconditional acceptance and refreshing trail rides. My passion is not competing, or a certain discipline, and there are many things I can’t teach my riders because I don’t know enough about them – and I am okay with that because I have realized that my passion is to share horses and the joy of riding and being outdoors. That was a huge realization for me, and freed me from a lot of silly self comparisons to other instructors who do what I have no passion to do. It also warns me that my passion to share this unconditional acceptance is rooted in my own struggles with rejection, so I must be careful not to place my self value on my riders or instructing.
To end, one of the best things about discovering your motivation is using it to help you persevere. On hard days, remind yourself of your reasons.
“Recalling the reasons why we teach — keeping them fresh and foremost in our minds — is, I believe, the key to sustaining ourselves during the long and challenging [times]” (Aguilar)
Cue the Lion King music.
- “Equestrian Instruction: An Integrated Approach to Teaching & Learning” by Jill K. Hassler-Scoop
- “What’s your Motivation?” By Barbara Fox http://theridinginstructor.blogspot.com/2009/03/whats-your-motivation.html
- “Why do you teach?” By Elena Aguilar, http://www.edutopia.org/blog/sustaining-passion-reasons-teaching-elena-aguilar
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!