Enthusiastic belly dance teachers often want their students to succeed so much that they end up working harder than the students do. Don’t work harder than your students. Although this may feel like helping, this actually inhibits growth because it doesn’t allow the student to learn how to think, make mistakes, work out solutions, and develop creativity. Not sure if you are one of these teachers?
You Might Be Working Too Hard If…
- your dance students dance just like you
- every choreography your students know came from you
- every combination your students use came from you
- you dance along with your students in every class
- you never use lecture
- your feedback is always positive and flattering
- you send emails, texts, phone call and social networking reminders to your students about rehearsals and classes
- you are the troupe director, seamstress, choreographer, rehearsal maiden, and costume coordinator for troupe performances
- you provide costuming for those who don’t have it
- you let class fees slide for those who have a good excuse not to pay
- you provide music for those who don’t have it
- you find gigs for your students
- your performances are always student affairs
Obviously some of the things listed above are beneficial, but if you have a lot of checks, you might ask yourself if you are working too hard.
So, how might you do things differently so that you work less and your belly dance students learn more?
- Create regular opportunities for performances where the students have a choice of performing something from class or something they created on their own. This shows confidence in their ability to perform and create.
- Create regular opportunities for feedback. The situation above can be followed by a group or individual feedback session. Students will work harder if they know you are paying attention.
- Use various methods of teaching that engage different parts of the brain, such as video, audio, lecture, demonstration, games, and watching individual or pairs of students dance. This gives students a chance to see things in different ways or to get things they didn’t get when presented in a mode that didn’t click the first time.
- Let students be responsible for their fees, schedules, costuming and dedication to the dance. We all appreciate what we have to invest in more than what is given to us.
- Tailor the level of instruction to the level of the student. If your students are beginners, it is appropriate to dance along with them, but as they become more adept, you should dance less and guide more.
- Don’t be afraid to correct! How many teachers get students who have bad habits that have never been corrected? Once it’s in the body, it’s hard to override bad habits. When I hosted the East Coast Belly Dance Classic, so many contestants said they came for the feedback. It’s truly the most important part of the learning experience. Give it and make it honest and precise.
Create policies and hold everyone to the same standard. If students know that everyone has the same rules, you will spend less time dealing with administrative issues and more time teaching.
- If you are not working on a group performance, give intermediate level students a range of what is correct. Everybody’s hip circle doesn’t have to be the same to be correct. Self-expression should be encouraged.
A well-run belly dance class is one where the students do their work and the teacher does hers. When one starts doing the work of the other, boundaries become unclear, things can get chaotic and learning suffers. Trust your students to be responsible. Ask them to help when needed. Let them show you what they can do, and they will continue to grow. A student who wants to be a good dancer doesn’t need to have her hand held. Show her what to do and then let her do it.