“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” —Horace Mann
Your success as a dance teacher begins and ends with you! How you get your students involved, and how you keep them engaged, will be a big key to your success. The great news is that you are in control, and you have the power to affect change if you so desire. To get the results you want, you will need a well-thought-out classroom management strategy that includes how to deal with issues, how to give corrections and how to inspire your students when there is a lull.
Dance Teachers: To inspire your students, you must stay inspired!
Teaching over the long haul can be a drain, especially if you are teaching a lot of classes and are pushed to create. One of the toughest thing’s teachers face throughout the season is staying motivated and energized. You are constantly giving, and if you are not careful, you can drain your battery and teaching can become a struggle. One way to keep motivated is to constantly focus on yourself and your needs. This may sound a bit selfish or egotistical, but you are the key to protecting yourself. Don't wait until you get to that tipping point! Know what makes you tick and when you need to relax, what makes you happy outside of dance and when you will make time for you.
That is one of the reasons we created DanceTeacherWeb.com. We have talked to many teachers and they have told us that they feel exhausted and never seem to have any time for themselves. But as we all know; it is more than just ideas and steps. It is about the energy it takes to give and then give some more.
Most dance teachers have to teach many different styles and levels. One minute you are on the floor with preschoolers. Then you are teaching a tap class. Next up is an advanced ballet, jazz or modern class. Sound familiar? The other problem is that dance teachers have a hard time saying no. We do privates, and choreograph for our shows, competition teams or company. So, we keep adding more and more to our plate until we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and just slightly resentful. This is something I think we are all familiar with, so the question is what do we do about it?
The first thing I would recommend is to get a daily planner. Write in it everything that you have planned for each day, week and month. Try to build the whole season into the planner.
Next, take a look at where you can and will build in your "down time." Write in your vacations and days off. Then, get a piece of paper and write down at least five things you love to do outside of dance and studio business. It may be a massage, walking your dog, reading a book, taking a swim, playing tennis or golf, getting in the car and going for a day trip. Whatever it is you like to do and find relaxing must go on this list. Now go to your daily planner and see how you can work these things into your schedule. Try to do at least two of these things each month.
Once they are on your schedule, try not to let anything get in the way of this important time. Now when you take a look at you schedule it won't look so bad after all. There is another element that is so important to these "down time" moments. You will find your creativity is enhanced. Some of the best ideas we have come up with have been away from the studio. Your mind is free to think, and sometimes even the smallest or most unexpected idea can ignite your creativity. It really is just giving ourselves that much-needed space that enables us to come up with some great thoughts. It also puts us in the position where we can step back and really look at everything in a better and more positive perspective. We know how hard it is to get away from teaching and not think or talk about everything that is happening at the studio. By giving yourself these times away from your work, it is so much easier to clearly find solutions to any situations.
One very important factor in all of this is to use your "down time" in the most positive way possible. Try not to dwell on any negative things that may be happening. This is not an easy thing to do, but these times away will be of no use to you if that is your focus. When these thoughts come into your mind, you must push them out and refocus on the creative thoughts. If you are having a hard time, then try not to think about dance at all. Get away from it mentally and physically. Have fun trying these methods and see if they make your life a bit easier. The idea is to keep you feeling fresh, motivated and invigorated for the whole season.
Getting the results, you want!
I fully believe that your students are a reflection of you. Let that sink in a bit. It may be that you are sending them the wrong message if you are not happy with the results you are getting. It could be as simple as setting certain standards and then helping your students achieve the desired results. If you set the ground rules, and then are willing to enforce them, you will have the kind of students you want. I know this can be a tricky situation if the studio owner who employs you is not on the same wavelength regarding your vision. You may need to sit down to see if you can work this out. It is also challenging if the studio’s other faculty let the classroom become a free-for-all. However, I have found that if you expect a certain behavior, even if it is different than what all the other teachers expect, your students will follow your lead.
In Part II we will dig into class room management ideas for success
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