I’m often asked, “What makes a quality massage therapist mentor, teacher, or instructor?" Here are a few thoughts on this topic, my ‘top ten’ so to speak.
One. A quality massage therapist mentor is as passionate about teaching as s/he is about the topic of the teaching. It’s about motivating students not only to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful and memorable. It’s about caring for your craft, having a passion for it and conveying that passion to everyone, but mostly importantly to your students.
Two. A quality massage therapist mentor is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It’s about doing your best (as a mentor) to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. A quality massage therapist mentor is also known for bridging the gap between theory and practice. It’s about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field in talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners and liaising with their communities.
Three. A quality massage therapist mentor is focused on listening, questioning, being responsive and remembering that each student and class is different. It’s about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It’s about pushing students to excel and at the same time it’s about being human, respecting others and being professional at all times.
Four. A quality massage therapist mentor is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It’s about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It’s about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. A quality massage therapist mentor is about teaching and demonstrating the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a push-over on the other. Good mentors/teachers migrate between these poles at all times depending on the circumstances. They know where they need to be and when.
Five. A quality massage therapist mentor knows about teaching style. Should a quality massage therapist mentor be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that the teaching or mentoring lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching/mentoring is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good mentors/teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and that the class is their orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies. A teacher’s job is to develop skills and make these instruments come to life as a coherent whole to make music.
Six. This is very important, A quality massage therapist mentor understands humor. It’s about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.
Seven. A quality massage therapist mentor is caring, nurturing and developing minds and talents. It’s about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It’s also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction, whatever that instruction may be.
Eight. A quality massage therapist mentor is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support - resources, personnel, and funds. A quality massage therapist mentor is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire industry - from leading experts in our industry to part-time instructors - and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.
Nine. A quality massage therapist mentor is about working with, and between, senior and junior level massage therapists, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one’s peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded and poor teaching needs to be remedied through training and development programs.
Ten. At the end of the day, a quality massage therapist mentor promotes having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards … like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. It’s about the former student who says your course changed her life. It’s about another telling you that your course was the best one he’s ever taken. Good mentors and teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good mentors/teachers couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Las Vegas Massage Therapist Kris Kelley
Please share what you see in others that make them a terrific Mentor or Teacher!