Change is in the air! The way your students learn, accept and apply their corrections and how they work and interact with their peers has changed dramatically. As dance teachers we need to embrace change. There is no certainty only uncertainty. If this pandemic has taught us anything it is that we have to be adaptable. I think we can all agree that twelve months ago no one thought that teaching dance through zoom would be sustainable but we know better now. We also know we have to teach our in-person classes differently now with social distancing and other safety measures we need to follow. But you have done all of this and are continuing to do it as we move forward. Teaching Dance is much more than just teaching steps. You know that, but how do you stay in the right headspace yourself?
The New Dance Teacher Mantra: Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!
We are going to borrow this mindset from the United States Marines who are about as tough as they come, but you don’t need to wear the Marine Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem to learn some valuable lessons from the Corps. Marines are taught to be able to overcome any obstacle, which serves them well in the chaos of combat. This concept is encapsulated in the Marine slogan “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”, which is a mindset that allows Marines to deal with any physical, mental, or spiritual hardship. Let’s look at some ways that dance teachers can apply the Marine mindset of adaptation to our civilian lives.
Resetting Your Mindset
You don’t need to go to war to train your brain to fight against disappointments and difficulties. As we all know, life is unpredictable, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for disappointment to creep into your psyche if you let it. A practical way for you to re-train your thinking is by countering negative thoughts with positive ones the moment they creep into your mind. Marines practice things like marching, cleaning their weapons, and putting on their uniforms over and over until they become rote habit. You can do the same with your thought processes. It will also help you when you are suffering from creative block. Think about some great choreography you have previously created and find that spark that got you going then. Music, creative concepts and imagery can all help ignite your creative flame.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you do things the exact same way you’ve always done them, you can expect the same results you’ve always gotten. Furthermore, burnout may be right around the corner. One of the things that makes the Marines the premier fighting force in the world is their ability to practice the chaos of war in their everyday lives. Life is unpredictable, no matter what you do in life. Get comfortable with discomfort by trying new things and challenging your mind and body in different ways. If you teach ballet try exploring movement in jazz or hip hop or visa a versa. I have seen some great tap choreography that also used hip hop movements. We all have our wheelhouses of what we love to teach and I am not suggesting you give that up. Just explore other movement that you are not as comfortable with to create something new and fresh. That is after all what Dance Teacher Web is all about. You can access 1000’s of videos in all subjects. Try it and see what happens!
Life is tough at times full of peaks and valleys, and it’s especially tough when you’re going it alone. That’s why faith is such an important aspect of the Marine Corps experience. Their motto, “Semper Fidelis”, means “Always Faithful,” and it’s the Marines’ faith in each other that can get them through the toughest of situations. You might not have a group of combat veterans to put your faith in, but you have friends, family, colleagues and possibly mentors who can help you fight through difficulties and adapt to changes. Don’t try to go it alone. Maybe try creating your own group of dance teachers that can have weekly or bi weekly zoom meetings to give support and discuss new ideas on teaching. I know several dance studio owners who are doing this with other business owners so why not do one with dance teachers and explore new concepts about different teaching methods. Make it a creaive think tank and share ideas that inspire each other.
Keep in mind you are not alone. Most dance teachers are experiencing the same up’s and down’s that you are going through. You have made it this far and if you look out in the distance up ahead, good things are coming your way.
Here's to your continued success!
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