To be a good dance teacher, one needs a ton of experience in a few different areas. When dance studios hire, they are looking for someone who will create a following of students who continue to enroll in more dance classes. So how do you get started?
1. First and foremost, you need to become an expert in the style of dance you teach. Take classes and/or observe other teaching styles from as many different instructors as you can. This research will open your mind to various teaching techniques, new inspiration, and what is appropriate for students of different ages and levels of experience.
2. Try getting in a program where you can be a dance teacher's assistant or co-choreographer. Working with someone else and getting their feedback will not only improve your teaching skills, but also introduce you to the world of teaching in a gentle way. Many dance studios will focus on nurturing their assistants into teachers as they see improvement and dedication progress.
3. Figure out which age group you are most comfortable with. It is common for people to interview with dance studios and say something like, "I work with all ages!" While this may be true, different age groups require different skills and knowledge from their teacher. To be a truly successful teacher, you must have a deep understanding of how your voice, energy, manner, language, and attire all adjust based on the ages you work with. That skill of knowing what is appropriate comes with experience.
4. Understand what kind of dance studios you'd like to work for. Is your specialty competition choreography, creative movement, fitness based classes, classical technique? Just because you are a good fit for one kind of studio does not mean you are a good fit for all of them. The more specific you can be about your talents, the easier it will be for you to find employment you can be successful with.
5. A good teacher is also a good learner. If you get critiques from students, parents, or employers, listen! Sometimes little changes in your teaching habits can make a huge difference. The music volume, pace of your class, verbage you use, and how clearly you cue are all very easy things to fix. You'd be surprised how many times students get turned off by minor issues. If you don't take the time to listen and adjust, registration will suffer. Being a good dance teacher is an ongoing journey.
6. Network, network, network! Make dance friends of all shapes and sizes. Word of mouth in the dance world goes a long way. If people know you have a teaching talent in a specific area, they are more likey to recommend you for new jobs or suggest new students take your class.
7. In the beginning, you should take any sub or teaching opportunity you can. Do not expect to get chunks of classes back to back your first year or two. You may be driving to teach an hour here and an hour there for a bit until you build your resume and can afford to be more picky.
8. Use social media like facebook and twitter to let people know where and what time you are teaching. You will gain confidence knowing you have the support of friends and family... and confidence is imperative for a dance teacher. The studio you teach at will also appreciate your help in growing their classes.
9. If you know of any dance teacher trainings or seminars to help with your class management, check them out. Read articles or books about what you are teaching or how to be a better teacher. There are so many tricks and tools out there to use for your advantage.
10. Get passionate about what you are teaching. If you come from a genuine place of excitement, that feeds off on your students and makes your class addictive. The best teachers are the ones who absolutely love what they teach and share that love with everyone around them.
11. Take the extra time to bond with your students. Let them know you notice them. Chat a little before and after class. Give positive reinforcement. Keep your class playful and fun. No one wants to go to a class where they don't get attention. People like to feel special and recognized.
The best of the best teachers are knowledgable, likeable, creative, and experienced. Use all of the tools you can to develop yourself. There are tons of resources out there, just not enough people taking advantage of them.