Full Time Training
Full Time Training Requirements
Attend a minimum of 6 long events (or equivalent) each year.
Trainees may attend any combination of short and long events, in Santa Fe, Portland, or wherever else (US/ International) there is a CAS or Alexander Alliance event, in order to fulfill the required events each year.
Annual attendance is strongly recommended at the main Long Events:
- Alliance International Summer Retreat
- Fall Beach-Front Immersion – Neskowin, OR
- Santa Fe Winter Immersion
- Spring Beach-Front Immersion – Neskowin, OR
Students may study as much as they desire throughout the year for the same annual tuition, payable as determined by their individual payment plan.
CAS Teacher Training Program Full Description
In my experience, many talented, motivated, and successful people love the Work, and would eagerly train as teachers, if only they could figure out how to fit it into their lives, both in terms of time and money. Therefore, I designed a program to make that possible.
The CAS Training model is self-paced and flexible, allowing each student to fit the training course into already full and demanding personal and professional lives. With over 1400 potential study hours offered each year, individual trainees then choose which opportunities they can take advantage of, while balancing the rest of their lives. This is possible because there is an entire community of teaching support – not just the senior teachers and core faculty, but also an active group of graduates. Classes are taught for mixed levels, allowing for a great deal of mentoring within the community. It takes a village.
There are 2 fundamental training categories:
- the Events, which provide the main philosophical and technical hands-on study time.
- the supportive studies, which provide time for complimentary studies and real-life practice
Both are required within the program, spread over the years of training.
There are 4 Long Events (5 – 8 days) offered each year: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. The Long Events offer the opportunity to introduce themes of study which will carry through the shorter training events, as well as study groups and personal practice.
The Summer Event is also the Alexander Alliance International Annual Summer Retreat,bringing all of the Directors and many of the faculty of the Alliance schools together for 10 days to Team Teach, a pedagogical form which we have crafted over decades. Every school also has trainees and graduates represented at the Summer Retreat. It is a time for students from Europe, Japan, and the US to form friendships, study together, and create the ‘webbing’ which bonds the larger Alliance community and supports future generations of teachers working together.
The Long Events are held in beautiful, inspiring places, often right on the ocean or high in the mountains. We usually rent a large group house, or sometimes go to a retreat center, and spend the week totally together. We cook our meals communally, we work, play, rest, socialize, and just hang out – together – inside a container of profound questioning and deep study. We go hiking and kayaking, we read and have lively debates, we play ping pong and make music together.
We get to know and see each other as humans, just as we ask ourselves to see our students. A typical training day has 10 hours of class time, about 7/8 of those hours each day being direct hands-on study: 9:30 – 1:30, 3:30 – 6:30, and 8 – 10:30/11. The time includes core hand studies, application studies, and time exploring and understand the principles at work in our daily lives. When not in ‘regular’ class, we are doing walking studies and exploring expansive movement forms on the beach, helping each other chop veggies for dinner (activity lessons), and creating time for everyone to get to know each other deeply.
Equally spread between the Long Events, there are 4 or 5 Short Events (2 – 4 days). Pedagogically, the Short Events allow trainees to focus in depth on a particular skill or theme.
Between each of the Short and Long Events, there are One Day Events, which are intended to address particular themes from the Long Events, or specific applications (like spending a day hiking and overnight camping, or at a horse barn, or at a artist’s commune).
These 16 training events, ranging from 10 days to 1 day, form the base of the program. So, the frame of a typical year might look like this:
- mid Sept – Short Event
- early Oct – one day
- late Oct – Long Event
- mid Nov – one day
- early Dec – Short Event
- late Dec/early Jan – Long Event
- late Jan – one day
- early Feb – Short Event
- late Feb – one day
- mid March – Long Event
- late March – one day
- mid April – Short Event
- early May – one day
- late May -Short Event
- mid June – one day
- late July/early Aug -Long Event (+Alliance Summer Retreat)
- late Aug – one day
Weekly Study Groups
In addition to this base, in any areas where there is a group of trainees/graduates, there are weekly study groups. Study Groups are run by CAS graduates that have become apprentice faculty members. They are specifically designed to provide time for questions, clarifications, and practice from material that has already been introduced by senior faculty at the Long Events. For example, there are 2 weekly study groups in the Portland area, to accommodate the number of trainees and the reality of the their busy schedules.
If a trainee does not live near anyone else, they will often host introductory workshops in their home cities, bringing in members of the Mentoring Trainers Program to teach, as well as observe lessons taught by other Alliance graduates and other Alexander Teachers. Essentially, if you can’t get to us, we find a way to get to you.
In this model, everybody wins: the local trainee gets a chance to observe/assist at lessons and workshops, receive direct mentoring, and learn how to organize and advertise a workshop. A young faculty member, usually joined by some graduates, has a chance to teach introductory workshops, mentor the trainee, and build their resume and experience. And, importantly, the local community is becoming educated about the Work and often supports the trainee by becoming ‘practice students’. By the time a person graduates, they usually already have a practice in place. Everybody wins.
With the 16 core Training Events, supported by weekly study groups, forming the foundation of the training, these 10 categories are also a required part of the training, and, as they are scheduled at various times throughout the year, people can choose which ones fit into their lives.
The remainder of the training opportunities are divided into 10 categories:
- month-long immersions
- special events
- community service
- introductory workshops
- complimentary workshops
- Post-Graduate workshops
- observing/assisting at lessons
- online study (book club & personal progress)
- personal study and application
- teaching practicum
Here’s a description of each category:
Twice each year, once in the winter and once in the summer, CAS faculty are in residence for a full month inside of well known performing arts programs: the Meadowmount School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory & College. Graduates and trainees (at every level, including beginning trainees) work with students while they play instruments/dance/sing/act on a daily basis. They teach or assist (skill appropriate) large group workshops, small group classes, and literally hundreds of individual lessons. Importantly, these immersions are academic calendar friendly, meaning that anyone on an academic calendar who may not be able to attend some core events can make these immersions. Trainees can participate in one or more weeks of the immersions, some do the entire month.
This immersion format offers level-appropriate experience for everyone:
- Young Faculty learn to design and oversee a large program;
- Graduates get enormousrepetition in teaching groups and individuals (often teaching 12 lessons plus a group workshop each day);
- Advanced Trainees get to teach groups and lessons while being directly mentored;
- Mid-level Trainees assist in groups and lessons, getting used to using their hands with many different people;
- Beginning Trainees teach mapping, observe all classes and lessons, and learn to use effective and understandable language as they help explain the Work.
- Special Events
These are trainings we do because something special is happening or something special is a certain location. Perhaps a trainee wants to offer the Work to one of their communities (choir, office, meditation retreat, etc). Or someone who can’t travel to study would like to bring a training to their city. Or, just this summer, right before the Congress, 24 of us gathered in a renovated barn in the middle of Iowa because one of our recent graduates wanted help getting her practice started there.
Often these special events happen in very beautiful places: Hawaii, Victoria, BC, Boulder, CO. Every couple of years we do a training at the Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico. We hike 800 feet down into the body of the earth, and have class right there! For me, the landscape is one of our guest faculty. We seek beautiful, awe-inspiring places to help us “let ourselves be free”.
Since the Special Events are outside of the base 16, they provide an opportunity for people who may have missed another training event to make up the time. They are mostly about investing in the community.
- Community Service
An important part of CAS is when we have the chance to ‘give back’ to our neighbors and to those who perhaps cannot afford to seek private lessons or group classes. For example, we have volunteered, as a training group, at
- women’s clinics for pre and post natal care,
- at local youth symphony retreats,
- for public school athletic teachers who would like their students to have an introduction to the Work,
- at teen centers, helping ‘gender-fluid’ teens be comfortable inhabiting their bodies.
We also hire outside facilitators to help us learn to create environments which support and attract diversity. The Alexander population is limited by it’s lack of diversity, and we are actively learning how to change that pattern, through professional diversity coaching.
- Introductory Workshops
This is such a core part of our pedagogy that one might call it a ‘procedure’! In my personal experience, the one sure way to make a living as an Alexander Teacher is to be able to teach a dynamic introductory workshop. Whether you have 2 hours or 2 days, being able to get a group to understand what the Work is about, what is can do for them, and how they could experience their mind/body differently, is a fundamental (and wonderful) skill.
Trainees are expected to observe and participate in as many intros as possible throughout their entire training period. They also have assignments to create the title, language, fliers, and potential content for their own intros – even in their first year of training. Before each intro, trainees create a potential structure and choose teaching metaphors appropriate for the upcoming group. Often trainees take turns teaching short portions of the intros. Following each intro, we deconstruct what actually happened, noticing how we followed what the students brought, and evaluating what worked or not, and why.
- Complimentary Workshops
These include trainings in complimentary skills, and are a required part of the curriculum. For example, all CAS trainees must take Living in a BodyTM(how to teach body mapping) and Body, Breath & SoundTM(learning the relationships between your breath, voice, and hands). In addition, there is basic study in cranial sacral, sexuality studies, and intuitive arts. These workshops are all offered outside of the core Events.
- Post Graduate Workshops & Mentoring Trainers
Because this design needs graduates to function well, I invest in the continued education of my graduates. Post-Grad studies are often days attached to another Training Event, before or after, as well as imbedded in the events. This format encourages graduates to attend the main events, allowing for mentoring of the trainees. (All Post Grad courses are open to any Alexander Teacher.)
There is a new program called Mentoring Trainers, which is devoted to teaching young faculty the difference between teaching someone and training someone to teach. This has become a valuable resource for passing on our collective knowledge and experience as Directors of Training Programs. The point is to not make each generation re-invent the wheel, but to build a scaffolding for the next generation of trainers.
- Observing/Assisting at Lessons
When I teach private lessons, I almost always have a small group of trainees with me. I explain to my clients that it’s similar to going to a ‘teaching hospital’, where young doctors-to-be learn from real experiences. I encourage my trainees to sit in on other teacher’s lessons, often with our graduate students, on a regular basis – as much as a few hours every week throughout their training. As they become more proficient, I have them use their hands with me on the client, so that they can practice distinguishing where movement is available, and where it is not. This observation time offers a rich supplement to the training process.
- Online Study
Because I have students who live very far from each other, we have developed an online study group as well. This group meets once a month and is used as a discussion platform for books that we read inside the training. These are not necessarily Alexander’s books, but other books from diverse fields which support and inform our studies. This year we read books written by the Congress speakers. When we gather between books, the online group uses the time to touch base with each other.
- Personal Study & Application
This category is sometimes assumed, but, in fact, often trainees need to cultivate skills and tools for working on their own and applying the principles in their everyday lives. It’s not that they don’t want to, but it’s harder than one might expect! So we actually study how to do a personal study, and trainees track their process with their local weekly study group.
There is actually a great deal of level-appropriate practice teaching built into all aspects of the training, as already mentioned. Trainees interact with actual students/clients in teaching roles from the very beginning of their training, usually through words and teaching basic mapping. As their skills increase, they begin using their hands and even leading small portions of intros and workshops. As they become even more proficient, they work with graduates as assistant teachers. Finally, as it seems they are beginning what will be their final year of training, they begin their own practice. They charge a ‘student-teacher’ rate, and are responsible for having both a small private lesson practice and teaching some kind of group classes or workshops throughout their final year of training. They are expected to bring ‘real-life’ questions and realizations to all training events in their final year to share with the group.
You don’t really know what you don’t know until you have to teach it on your own. This process is a huge factor in helping each trainee balance their skill set during the final year of study. It offers them a balance of ‘real-life’ experience, while still being able to access support and mentoring. It also builds confidence, which is essential to successfully transitioning into a career as a Contemporary Alexander Teacher.
In addition to the Teaching Practicum, students can request to return to the school to get specific support for a full additional year after graduation. As they progress through their first full-time year as a teacher, they can often identify areas where they want/need more support or skill.
From this wealth of over 1400 training hours each year, trainees are free to choose what works in their lives and what does not. They are free to study more when they have more time, and study less when their family or professional lives are more demanding. If someone has a really full schedule, like finishing a doctoral degree or preparing for a large performance, then maybe they do the month-long immersions as the core of their study that year, and then go back to a more spread out schedule the next year. It is this inherent flexibility that makes the program possible for most people.