We train our dancers to take everything with a grain of salt; to take the compliments and the criticisms, to not get too high or too low about accomplishments and failures. We prepare them for the harshness of the outside world, to tackle rejection with grace, to understand things will not always go in their favor and to reconcile that people can be unkind. We motivate them to develop self-worth that will keep their heads high and their confidence unwavering and we aim to instill an inner voice which reminds them they are meant for great things and that their talents are unique to the world. We send them out into the world hopefully ready to take it on, not let anyone stand in there way and believe, with hard work, they can do anything they set their minds to.
Sometimes though, teachers are the ones that can get rattled. At certain points in one’s career, we hit crossroads. Perhaps teachers are faced with a new challenge, a colleague more talented or seemingly more creative than them, or a student they just can’t connect to and it leaves them questioning their own talents and knowledge. It also forces them to internalize and self-reflect. While we remind ourselves constantly to focus on all of the positive things happening in our own lives, we know that if there is one negative thing, critique or person around us, the tendency is to dwell and wonder why? Why doesn’t that student like my class? Why is that parent questioning how I conduct my classes? Why didn’t that one piece of mine place well in competition? Why did I get that note from my studio owner during my rehearsal? All these things often play on our mind…..and it’s normal.
Before we are teachers, dancers, choreographers, artists, we are human; with sensitivity to the things and people that surround us. We care about our jobs because we love what we do. It’s not a job for us, it’s our craft. We truly want to inspire and connect with every single one of our students. We want everyone to love our work and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. But, unfortunately as we often tell our students, that’s just not realistic and not the way the world works. There is no way to make everyone happy, 100% of the time. And that’s OK. Dance is a subjective art form and in some respect so is teaching. Not everyone may love your teaching style, but if you are an effective, knowledgeable teacher, your lessons will transcend; albeit maybe not right away but somewhere down the road your lessons will be appreciated.
Putting pressure on yourself will only stifle you, your creativity and your own growth and progress as a teacher. All you can do is your very best each and every day and know in your heart you have the best intentions when you walk in that studio day in and day out. A student who criticizes you will get under your skin, undoubtedly, and you probably will go home and think about it over and over. At some point however, you have to trust your abilities and knowledge as a dancer and a teacher and let that thick skin rise to the surface. Sometimes, these situations are actually the perfect catalyst to make you stop and analyze. Sometimes there might be some truth to the things being presented. Perhaps that is why things bother us so much at times. But, as a teacher your learning is never done. So take these opportunities and little cornerstones of self-growth and turn them into something positive; not something that will drag you down or make you question your own abilities. If you don’t believe you have something to offer your students, they won’t believe it either. The very lessons of confidence we impart onto them is one in which we need to ascertain ourselves.
Remember, it is OK to have a moment of self-doubt every once and again, but also remember to shelf those thoughts quickly and move forward from them. Don’t let them be your downfall. Let them inspire you. Hang onto that thick skin and trust yourself. Commit and give 100%. Believe in yourself and what you have to offer the dance world in the same way you encourage your students to tackle life and it’s lessons each and every day. Grow with each other and watch the amazing things you will all accomplish together.
See you in the dance studio,
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