Your goal as a dance teacher is not to show that you can do it, rather to show the student that they can do it and how they can do it.
One of the greatest downfalls of teachers, especially new teachers, is a propensity to attach imparting knowledge with showing knowledge. I know it was one of my biggest challenges to overcome as a young teacher.
As a teacher it is important to show the students the desired outcome or movement so that they have an outline over which they can lay what they learn, so an initial showcase to provide the visualization of a successful outcome is useful. However, repeating this showcase, as an act of performance, is all too often for the teachers benefit and glory.
There is a distinction, often made, that great dancers do not equal great teachers.
The reason is that great dancers can show a student the movement, over and over again, with amazing precision. They are able to show the nuances physically that differentiate doing it the correct way from doing it the incorrect way. Yet they fail to mobilize the student to believe they are capable of performing the movement themselves.
The student may attempt to mimic the movement yet without the guidance of a skilled teacher, it is more or less the same as watching a YouTube video repeatedly. There is no student-teacher relationship, there is no interaction from which the process of inquiry is accelerated and guided.
The great teacher engages the student with exercises, examples, metaphors and visualizations to help the student discover their own process to acquire the movement. This accelerates the process of inquiry by providing constructive feedback for the student upon which they can build the next steps of their learning process.
For great teachers, it is about the students learning process over and above all else.
The classroom is not the domain of the teacher but of the student.
To make the classroom the domain of the teacher’s needs is to prioritize the ego of the instructor. If the ego of the instructor is the priority then the classroom becomes a stage for the instructor to show off. It becomes The Teacher Show.
To make the classroom the domain of the student’s learning is to prioritize the relationship of guidance and feedback. It empowers the relationship and the student while placing the ego of the teacher out of the equation. This empowerment places the learning process in the hands of the student. It becomes a Learning Show.
Is your classroom a Learning Show or The Teacher Show?
How do you empower the learning process and the student-teacher relationship in your classroom?
Dance Teacher: You work long hours at a studio or multiple studios. You travel to teach or teach locally. You teach group classes, private lessons or both. You have your core of students but struggle to get new students or retain old students.
Dance Studio Owner/Manager: You have put your heart into creating a full out studio. Each day you work to bring students in, fill your studio with teachers and classes, and promote your classes to the community. You may even be the primary teacher at your studio. You are stretched thin and struggle to keep everything together.
Dance Performer: You may be a teacher but your real passion is performance. You spend hours creating or learning choreography, perfecting and teaching them to the other dancers. You struggle to get your works seen and publicized and bring in the crowds.
Aspiring Dancer: You are working to establish your name in your chosen dance. Whether you want to be a teacher or a national performer or competitor you spend hours learning and perfecting your craft in hopes to achieve your goals. You struggle to get your name out there without spending every last dime you have.
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