4 tips on becoming a good dance teacher
Educate yourself on everything!
The journey on becoming a good dance teacher in a long one. You are going to have to have a wide knowledge base. You have to learn everything around the style of dance you are teaching PLUS you will need a working knowledge of other related styles as well. Its important to know several different ways of describing all of your information. As a teacher I always wanted to understand how other teachers communicated information. I would not only take lessons with a wide range of teachers (something I recommend more for teachers than students) but I would sit in on other teachers classes to see if I could pick up something new. You are going to need to be an authority to become a good dance teacher. Its a long process. Kudos for seeking this article and beginning down the path.
Understand Teaching & Learning Styles
You need to know all be basics of dance, lead and follower, footwork and technique BUT you also have to understand different teaching techniques and learning styles. Students will process information in different ways. If you make your self a student of these different styles it will help you communicate your information in the most effective way. Here is a great resource to get you started on learning styles! Along with that you need to cultivate your overall teaching style. Are you Teacher Centered or Student Centered. Both are viable ways to go about it but understanding your own personality will help you develop a teaching style that suites you. Becoming a goo dance teacher in a process for sure but in the end you will be a happier more successful teacher with students that love you!
Provide unique value
What is your niche? Are you trying to be like everyone else? One of my coaches once said to me “Brian I have never seen a champion cloned.” That stuck with me. Even as a dance teacher I have always wanted to bring my own unique value. Pay attention to what your natural strengths and likes are. Work on those. Are you exciting and engaging? Great then run with that. Make your lessons fun and entertaining. Are you more reserved and technical? Then become the master technician. Over time students will seek you out for what you seem to be most passionate about do cultivate that!
Develop your own philosophy
Another coach said to me “Brian you are going to have to develop your own language to communicate with your students.” Although much of the jargon for dance is set out for us there are concepts that we need to communicate for which we were never give n standard vocabulary. At a point it becomes necessary to develop your own language to communicate your ideas. As you continue on you will develop your own ideas into your philosophy. It takes a while to understand this process but in the beginning work on finding consistent words for your concepts. Work on how those words will create your own concepts. Those concepts will help you create your overriding philosophy dance.
Stay a student
I always tell my students… “No matter how crazy excited you get about dance… I’m worse!” I have never stopped being a student. Its a never ending process. Here is a little secret….you will learn more through teaching then you ever did as a student. The process just continues. Continue taking coaching but as you progress as a teacher make 50% of you lessons about teaching. Ask your coaches their advice on teaching the information not just doing it. It will be a big help to get some insights that way instead of having to learn all of the lessons on your own!
Sending you well wishes on your journey to becoming the best dance teacher you can be! -Brian Barakauskas