They say in life that you never stop learning, and this blog post is about what I am Learning from Teaching dancing.
I have always enjoyed teaching others. When I was small we would play school-school and I would make sure that I was always the teacher.
I have tried my hand in the past to teach my school friends to horse ride (even though I wasn’t that great myself), roller skate, and knit. Now I teach dancing and even help the technically challenged with their computer work on occasion.
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What I have Been Learning from Teaching
In this blog post, I would like to tell you the most important lessons that I have been learning from teaching dancing for the past two decades.
Yep teaching dancing helps you realize just how patient you need to be. Some people work faster than others and you need to be able to slow yourself down so that even the child that battles to grasp onto concepts can still learn.
But the biggest lesson in patience has been with the naughtier children. Believe me screaming at them doesn’t help. I have learned it is far more beneficial to draw a deep breath and divert their attention elsewhere.
2. Time Delegation
As a dance teacher you need to stick to your class times and fit loads into a day. I have learned that I need to get things done now rather than leave it for later. I can’t afford to waste a minute, as believe me there is always something to catch up on.
As things crop up I write them down, then I can do them as soon as I finish class so that I don’t forget, and they pile up. This could be things from sort rest of horse costume, to remember to invoice Suzy for that extra class, to remember to make the music for tendus slower.
I was always a very shy child, but when you teach dance, you can’t afford to be shy, you need to get out there and act silly with the kids. You also need to be able to communicate with large groups of kids and parents at the same time. My inner shyness is still there, but I have learned to cover it well.
4. Learning all About What It Takes To Run A Successful Business
This one took some time to adjust to as it is not the most fun part of running a dance school. I thought it was just about teaching and first, but there is more admin than you want to know about happening in the background.
There is always choreography, ideas and music to find, books to do, accounts administration, and communications. Believe me, if you don’t keep on top of it, you can quickly drown in paperwork.
5. Learning to Say No
This one is still a difficult one for me, and I still find it very difficult to say no. But as a business owner, you have to learn to do this, otherwise, you are swamped with requests that you can’t possibly meet, and the stress levels are just not worth it.
Being too accessible and kind-hearted just doesn’t work in this field.
Learning that you can’t do everything on your own is a big eye-opener. Now the studio has three teachers, and life is a lot simpler. When it comes to putting on shows and exam days, each teacher has a role to play that makes the workload less for the others, and working as a team you get a lot more done in far less time.
The pupils also benefit from having different teachers teaching them, as every teacher has something unique to offer.
7. Getting Comfortable being Uncomfortable
Running a dance studio is not for the faint of heart or for those who don’t love a challenge 24/7. None of us really know what tomorrow will bring, so use the thrill of uncertainty to fuel your creativity rather than drain it.
This is a big one. As a dance studio owner or even a business owner, your salary will be different every month. Some months are tighter than others and you need to make sure that you can meet all your commitments and also save for a rainy day. I have learned the hard way in the past, so I always try to put something aside for a rainy day, as you just never know. I mean look at what happened in 2020. This pandemic closed many dance studio doors for good.
9. Use Your Strengths to your Advantage
As a dance teacher, you will soon see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean don’t work on your weaknesses, but make sure people know what you are good at and where you shine.
10. Learning Not To Take Things Personally
People come and people go. You will say goodbye and hello a lot as a dance teacher, and it’s just a fact of life. Some people will love you and some not, and this is ok because everyone is different.
The best thing that I am learning from teaching is that you actually never ever stop learning. If you think you know it all, think again, as there are always new ways of doing things and new ideas to be found.
As a dance teacher, you need to keep educating yourself on an ongoing basis to stay on top of your game.
The Discipline of Hope chronicles veteran educator Herb Kohl’s love affair with teaching and what he was learning from teaching since his first encounter over forty years ago, chronicled in his now-classic 36 Children.
Beginning with his years in New York public schools and continuing throughout his four decades of working with students from kindergarten through college across the country, Kohl has been an ardent advocate of the notion that every student can learn and every teacher must find creative ways to facilitate that learning. In The Discipline of Hope, he distills the major lessons of an attentive lifetime in the classroom.