An excellent way to have a life full of dance is to become a dance teacher. I have found it very rewarding. I love it because I get such a different view on dance.You’ve probably heard that to really understand something, teach it to someone else. It’s so true.
To be a good teacher you really have to deepen your understanding of dance, movement and art. It is also very important to stay involved in your own dance education.
You get to be very creative as a teacher. Teaching requires coming up with original choreography all the time, whether it is just for one class or for a performance.
And, of course, I love the feeling I get knowing that I have helped someone else learn more about dance. I remember how important my teachers were to me. Being on the other side and having such a big impact on someones life is a good feeling.
Is Teaching Really What I Want to Do?
If you are thinking about becoming a dance teacher, or are teaching and wondering if it could be a long term career for you, take a second to ask yourself some questions.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
Teaching dance involves some very specific skills. Take a minute to ask yourself some questions to see if teaching really is a career you can be happy with.
Do you like to work with kids? (seems like an obvious question, but really think about this one.)
Do you feel comfortable taking control of a room?
Are you interested in the specifics of dance technique?
Do you consider yourself a patient person?
Do you have good musicality?
Are you excited by the idea of coming up with your own combinations?
Do you like the idea of creating your own choreography?
Are you comfortable working evenings?
Are you comfortable and able to continue your own dance education?
Answering some of these questions with a “no” or an “I don’t know” doesn’t mean you can’t teach. There is time to learn when you are a teacher’s assistant.
However, if you answered most of these questions with a strong “no,” teaching dance probably isn’t for you.
If you are interested in becoming a dance teacher, it is time to get cracking!
Become a Teacher’s Assistant
Many studios have a dance teacher’s assistant program. If your studio isn’t one of them, ask the owner if you can shadow her or another teacher. Tell her you’re interested in teaching and are hoping to be able to learn from her. (Flattery doesn’t hurt when asking a favor.) Or, look for another studio in your area that does have a program.
Some assistant programs pay, some don’t. The experience is extremely valuable, so if you aren’t getting paid now, just remember that you are gaining the knowledge you need to work for money later. And maybe if you explain your situation to the studio owner, she can figure out some way to compensate you.
Things to Learn While Assisting
Assuming you have a great teacher to shadow, pay attention to these things.
– Pay attention to the structure of a class. How much time is spent at barre? What is the progression of exercises in center? These are things that dancers don’t necessarily notice, but teachers have to control.
– Notice how the teacher keeps the attention of the students. This will change depending on the age of the kids, but at all ages, it is important to keep the students engaged and interested.
– Notice what music the teacher uses for different exercises. It is so important to understand musicallity as a teacher! Make sure you are confident with the phrasing of the music.
Some studios have music in house, but serious teachers have their own collection.
– Really learn from how the teacher corrects his students. A good teacher will give a correction with confidence and kindness. Students have to trust you, or they will be to nervous to dance their best.
Side Note: Lots of teachers have a Teaching Journal that they make notes in. Consider trying one and making notes about what you learn from assisting.
Educate Yourself on the Best Teaching Techniques
Shadowing a dance teacher is the best and quickest way to learn how to teach, but remember, every teacher has their own style. That’s part of the fun!
So, as you are shadowing, start reading about other teachers and what works for them. This is a habit that you will want to continue throughout your teaching career, so might as well start now!
There is a lot of information out there for dance teachers and it can get overwhelming. I usually study by subject. For instance, if I want to work on maximizing my barre work, I mostly read what people have to say about that. I try not to get sidetracked on other subjects until I feel like my barre work is where I want it to be. Then I’ll become interested in some other part of class or technique and I’ll switch to learn aout that.
That is what works for me. Find what works for you so that the information not stifling but is helpful.
Find a Studio to Teach For
You’ve assisted for a while and are confident enough to have your own class. Awesome! It’s time to find a teaching job.
Honestly, there are challenges to this. This is one of those things where it is good to know the right people.
So, if you like the studio you have been assisting at, great! See if they have some classes you can take. They know you, they probably like you, so it can be easier for them to use you than to find and hire someone else.
Side Note: Often, depending on your experience, new dance teachers are given the younger classes to teach. Don’t be discouraged if this isn’t your favorite age to teach. Show them that youcan do an awesome job with the younger girls and eventually they will trust you with their older classes.
If, for whatever reason, you need to find a new studio to teach at, keep these things in mind:
– It will be easier to be hired to teach summer classes than any other time of year. It’s not part of the normal season, so owners feel like it can be a trial run before they offer you full season work.
– Resumes are good. Letting them get to know you is better. Find ways to let them get to know you before you ask for work.
Go to their show and e-mail or call and tell them that you liked their work (if you did) and like to talk to them. See if they offer an adult class, or if you can take class with their company. Offer to volunteer your time for their end of the year performance. Ask if you can watch some of their classes to get a feel for their studio. Do something so that they start to get a feel for you and so that you stand out from the stack of resumes they already have on their desk.
– Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. Local studios often know about each other and owners are often friends. If one studio isn’t hiring, they might know of another studio that really needs a dance teacher like you.
Consider Becoming Certified
You usually don’t have to be certified to be a dance teacher, so I consider this to be something to consider after you have a few years of teaching experience and know that it is something you want to do for a while.
I myself have never been certified but it is on my list of things to do because there are some great advantages.
Being certified is a plus with studio owners. This is nice if you ever move and have to apply at a new studio. Now, this is not always true, but enough people consider certification an asset that it is worth thinking about.
The biggest advantage, and the reason I’ve considered it, is the continuing education benefits. Most certifications put you through classes to earn their stamp of approval. That means you get to be in class with other dance teachers and learn from their experience. This is always a good idea.
If you are at a place in your teaching career when you are looking to take classes anyway, you might as well get a pretty title to go with it.