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  1. #1
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    So I stopped teaching at my current studio because the turnout for my upcoming 8-week Spring session was, well, pretty lame. Everybody kept saying they were going to sign up, but few had the motivation or commitment to actually do it.

    I can see why bellydance kind of fizzled there. It's a dance studio that offers predominantly children's and teen classes, and most of the adults that ever took my class or walked into the building were harried, stressed-out moms, busy shuttling their kids from one activity to the next. (Not to mention, I could only imagine what people in this family-friendly venue must think about scandalous dances from the "terrorist land.")

    Also, the studio owner frowns on drop-ins and ongoing sessions, so restructuring is not an option ,f::

    Anyway, I have been thinking on an off about creating some brochures to dropp off along with a dance resume to local health clubs. Trouble is, I don't have a website at the moment and I don't have much free time as most dancers do to pound the pavement and self-promote. And the market around here is cornered, if not supersaturated, with bellydance instructors, some more qualified than others .w.:.

    And honestly, on my end of things, the passion for teaching just isn't there. I'm not desperately in need of the money. I honestly kind of stink at creating lesson plans and breaking things down. And I'd much rather be performing! I'm sure I'd feel more enthusiasm for teaching if I found the right venue, or if I had a solid student base, or maybe if I felt more confident in my teaching abilities. This could come in time, but for now, I'm not feeling it ,f:: .

    Sometimes, I feel as if my disinterest in teaching might make me a less-than-altruistic dancer, or could even detract from my credibility in the community and when clients hire me for private gigs. Maybe this could be in my head, as all of the dancers around here teach AND perform. But I want to know what role teaching plays in developing a good reputation and a solid client base. Do you get a lot of private gigs from teaching? Do clients find you more credible as a performer when "shopping around" if you teach 5 classes a week, as opposed to if you specialize in performance? Can you do well for yourself as strictly a performer? Is it a wise move to stick with what I know and do best?

    Talk to me!

    Lisa


  2. #2
    Advanced BHUZzer Nepenthe's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    I decided not to teach for a variety of reasons. One reason is that there are already many qualified teachers in this area, many with much more experience and knowledge than I have. But my main reason is selfish - I want to spend that time developing myself right now. I want to be the best performer I can be. When/If I do teach, I will have this experience to make me a better teacher. "Everyone else is a teacher" is not only not a reason to teach, it's actually a reason not to teach - unless you think you offer something unique and different than those other teachers. Especially if you don't enjoy it.

    I'd guess that the average person doesn't care if you're a teacher and is more impressed by seeing a list of places where you perform. But teaching might get you customers from your own students, I guess.


  3. #3
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    .

    And honestly, on my end of things, the passion for teaching just isn't there. I'm not desperately in need of the money. I honestly kind of stink at creating lesson plans and breaking things down.
    If you don't like it AND you don't feel that you're very good at it, AND you don't need the money, then DON'T do it!!!

    Sometimes, I feel as if my disinterest in teaching might make me a less-than-altruistic dancer,
    Only if you insist on inflicting your less-than-enthusiastic teaching on unsuspecting students for personal gain.

    But I want to know what role teaching plays in developing a good reputation and a solid client base. Do you get a lot of private gigs from teaching?
    Almost none, and the ones I do get expect a STEEP discount because they're my students!!!

    Do clients find you more credible as a performer when "shopping around" if you teach 5 classes a week, as opposed to if you specialize in performance?
    Quite the opposite. They find me nearly impossible to hire, because they have to work around my teaching schedule!!

    Can you do well for yourself as strictly a performer? Is it a wise move to stick with what I know and do best?
    If your goal is to be a performer, if that's what you love doing, then I think you should put your efforts in that direction. Personally, I'd rather teach than perform (and it shows in some of my performances ) so I focus on that area. But I think it's actually a detriment to performance, rather than a help.

    Outside the bellydance world, dance teachers are usually retired dancers, not active ones. I wonder if the GP probably sees teaching as a sign that you're getting washed up as a dancer? More likely they don't think of it much either way, actually.

    If you were going to hire a magician for a party, would you even wonder whether he also teaches magic at a local parks department? I wouldn't.


  4. #4
    Advanced BHUZzer aamel_MirahAmmal's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Honestly...I've talked to others who've struggled with this question. I'm going to say something really blunt that I said to another friend in a similar situation:

    If you don't know if you want to teach, you have no business in the classroom, because being a teacher isn't about you, it's about what's good for the students.

    Now...that said...the real question to explore with yourself is whether you want to teach! Do you really want it? Do you not feel drawn to it? Do you feel the urge, but little things that stand in the way and if you could remove one or two barriers, you'd be all over it? Do you feel the desire, but feel like you need more skill/practice at teaching to be good at it? Is it something you want but maybe not now, maybe...someday? The answer to the question will help you proceed.

    Is it ok not to teach? Absolutely. If teaching isn't something you have the drive or the time to pursue (or the drive to make the time above other priorities in life), then I would argue it is the far more altruistic thing to recognize that and step aside from whatever paltry sum of cash you might gather through teaching and let (even help) would-be students find skilled, motivated instructors who really want to be there with them. I know working dancers who don't teach at all.

    Now...what if you do want to do it, but the time to hit the streets, work on lesson plans etc. is all that stands in your way? That's another matter. If THAT's the case...make a plan.

    First, rather than trying to rent a studio space and run classes on your own, what about seeking an opportunity to do classes through a community education program, park and recreation, or even (ulp) a health club where they hire you /pay you and make it part of your program. Downsides: you have much less control over schedule/policies/fees/etc. and your pay (though in some cases it may be as much as you'd make on your own...just depends.) Upsides: YOU don't do the marketing and space rental--THEY do--that's a lot of time and cost you don't have to worry about. Also, pare back to one or two clases rather than trying to run as many as possible (make yourself rare and sought after. :-) Second, for lesson plans etc., avail yourself of the internet! There are gadjillions of people posting lesson plans and curriculae (some of which you'll like, some you'll find insane) all over the internet, plus a whole community of women and men here who'll happily give you feedback. Once you define a curriculum and get in a teaching rhythm, lesson planning gets much easier.

    And...if you want to do it (probably) but just aren't feelin' the love right now...no harm in backing off for a time.

    Anyway...those are just my $.22, but I hope it's a little helpful. In a nutshell, though, if you do want to do it, there are ways to teach with a little less stress...and if you don't want to teach, that's ok. You just have to give yourself permission not to do it.


  5. #5
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Nepenthe, that sums up exactly where I'm at.

    My goal is to be a better performer. Therefore, practicing, doing costumes, and being a "perpetual student" of other dance forms ranks far higher in importance to me than unenthusiastically doing figure eights with beginners for an hour, possibly several nights a week. Sometimes I wonder when dancers who teach 6 classes a week find time to even practice their own craft, when they're so busy teaching others! I need to take this time to be "selfish" and develop my own stagecraft.

    Not teaching has also allowed me to take the hula class I've been dreaming about but, until now, couldn't fit into my schedule.

    I like your logic behind the "everybody's teaching" statement. Everybody has different motives and preferences for teaching and performing, but it's always made sense to me to excel in one thing, rather than trying to spread yourself thin being a jack of all trades. Also, the "everybody's teaching" method leads to a lot of unprepared dancers prematurely teaching beginners, before they've developed a distinct style or know the fundamentals of physiology, injury prevention or even mastered the BD movement vocabulary itself.

    Lisa


  6. #6
    Established BHUZzer CFerhat's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    If I were you, given the feelings you describe, I wouldn't teach. You can do that later in your career if your feelings change - I would spend my time and energy on developing as a performer - and marketing myself as such. Honestly, for me it's hard to devote as much time as I'd would like to my own performing skills since I also teach (and work a day job, and have a family, etc. etc.)


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Don't do it! As someone who teaches 6 classes a week, I can attest to the fact that even if you LOVE teaching, it gets trying after a while. There are only so many times you can explain the same moves and the same steps to the same people (or different people at the same level) before it starts to grate on your nerves. If you have a passion for teaching, you'll be able to look past the tedious parts to the bigger picture and still enjoy what you do, but if you aren't a fan of teaching to begin with, it's not for you.

    Honestly, 5 of my 6 classes are beginner, and there are days when I don't want to go to work. By far, my favorite class to teach is my intermediate, because I can challenge myself as well as my students.

    And it does get nearly impossible to do anything for yourself when you have a heavy teaching schedule! I want to take ballroom dance classes, I want to go back to ballet, I want to try out some tribal bellydance, but the only free night a week I have is Mondays, and what I really want to do when Monday rolls around (after a full week of teaching and a full weekend of gigs) is come home from my day job and do NOTHING!

    So yeah, you don't need to teach to be a great dancer, and if you don't love it, you shouldn't!


  8. #8
    I could get used to this! mira's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    I think you answered your own question...

    Follow your heart.

    And Best of Success to you, whatever you decide!
    Mira


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Back when I was a student, I had a teacher who obviously wasn't feeling a passion for it, at least not at that particular time in her life. She was doing it because she liked the income, but it was pretty visible to the students that there wasn't much love of teaching in the room. She'd show up late and unprepared. She'd waste 10 minutes at the start of class admiring pictures of recent performances while everyone stood around waiting for class to start. She wouldn't correct people's errors - I know for a fact that at least one student privately begged her to offer more correction, and still she wouldn't do it.

    That person should not have been teaching.

    I think it can be negative for one's reputation to be teaching if your heart isn't in it.


  10. #10
    Taj
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    Mega BHUZzer Taj's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    I won't echo what everybody else has said, but I will add this: by not teaching, you get to avoid a whole lotta drama! Teacher A vs. Teacher B and both of them vs Teacher C.


  11. #11
    Official BHUZzer Michaela's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by danielabellydance View Post
    ...
    Honestly, 5 of my 6 classes are beginner, and there are days when I don't want to go to work. By far, my favorite class to teach is my intermediate, because I can challenge myself as well as my students.
    ...
    I find it challenging to teach beginners, they need much teacher`s skill and attention to make them do their basics all right. If students have good basic skill they are able to advance faster later on.

    It`s only a fair thing to quit if teaching beginners doesn`t feel right at the moment.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer caasious's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Yup - O concur with the group... just take a break from it till the call is in you again. It's very hard to tach effectively without sharing your enthusiasm for the dance.

    On a side note,
    I looked at all those harried moms and made them my target audience (party cause I'm as harried as the rest of them!!). My classes run in the mornings, between drop off and pick up times for the local preschools and kindergarden. It gives the moms something to "do" for those precious 2 hours of freedom.
    ;-)


  13. #13
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Michaela View Post
    I find it challenging to teach beginners, they need much teacher`s skill and attention to make them do their basics all right. If students have good basic skill they are able to advance faster later on.

    It`s only a fair thing to quit if teaching beginners doesn`t feel right at the moment.
    You are correct that it is challenging to teach beginners...but IMO when you've done it for so long and over and over and over again, you learn what works and what doesn't. I can break down moves like no other - my beginners say I am the best teacher they've ever had and they learn so much (and quickly!). Not to pat myself on the back, I just don't want it to seem like I don't put effort into my beginner students or I am cheating them of a good dance education, because I put a lot of effort and they learn well. But it's like any teacher - yes, it's challenging to teach 1st graders, but if you teach 1st grade every year for your whole life, the challenge becomes routine and it's not as exciting anymore.

    I had a dentist once who told me that he stopped doing regular cleanings and cavity fillings and hired a newbie dentist to do those because they were no longer a challenge to him. Of course, dental work is hard no matter what but when you've filled hundreds of cavities its just more of the same. He decided to only take the patients that challenged him - root canals and all that fun stuff. That's kind of what I equate teaching with.


  14. #14
    Master BHUZzer Lesgemini_Zafirah's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by danielabellydance View Post
    You are correct that it is challenging to teach beginners...but IMO when you've done it for so long and over and over and over again, you learn what works and what doesn't. I can break down moves like no other - my beginners say I am the best teacher they've ever had and they learn so much (and quickly!). Not to pat myself on the back, I just don't want it to seem like I don't put effort into my beginner students or I am cheating them of a good dance education, because I put a lot of effort and they learn well. But it's like any teacher - yes, it's challenging to teach 1st graders, but if you teach 1st grade every year for your whole life, the challenge becomes routine and it's not as exciting anymore.

    I had a dentist once who told me that he stopped doing regular cleanings and cavity fillings and hired a newbie dentist to do those because they were no longer a challenge to him. Of course, dental work is hard no matter what but when you've filled hundreds of cavities its just more of the same. He decided to only take the patients that challenged him - root canals and all that fun stuff. That's kind of what I equate teaching with.
    Excellent analogies, Daniela!!!


  15. #15
    Official BHUZzer Michaela's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by danielabellydance View Post
    You are correct that it is challenging to teach beginners...but IMO when you've done it for so long and over and over and over again, you learn what works and what doesn't. I can break down moves like no other - my beginners say I am the best teacher they've ever had and they learn so much (and quickly!).
    Good for you and your students!

    My analogy would be:

    learning basics, repeating, becoming good at bellydance = learning how to fill in cavities, becoming good at it

    then

    teaching bellydance basics = teaching how to fill in cavities

    then

    your dance is more complex, high level BUT no dancer can ever omitt basics, since complex moves consist of basic ones
    X differs from the dentist X
    who never bothers with cavities again, happily forgets about regular cleanings.

    This is not personal. I just had a backlash of a dialog with local BD school owner - a computer engineer who hired almost a hundred of 6 weeks wonder`s students (!) to teach belly dance accross the country - trying to use a false logic saying beginners don`t need to learn basics from a pro dancer, and teacher with basic knowledge is ok. His analogy was: school kids don`t learn how to read and write from a famous writer but from an ordinary school teacher. My assertion was that even ordinary school teacher must pursue university level education to be allowed to teach while his belly basics teachers were about third graders of primary school.

    Daniela and Zafirah, sorry for this hijacking !

    Satin, honey, do as you wish. Follow your inner feeling, your heart, and your soul, there is always more joy, and creativity in such places.


  16. #16
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Michaela View Post
    This is not personal. I just had a backlash of a dialog with local bellydance school owner - a computer engineer who hired almost a hundred of 6 weeks wonder`s students (!) to teach belly dance accross the country - trying to use a false logic saying beginners don`t need to learn basics from a pro dancer, and teacher with basic knowledge is ok. His analogy was: school kids don`t learn how to read and write from a famous writer but from an ordinary school teacher. My assertion was that even ordinary school teacher must pursue university level education to be allowed to teach while his belly basics teachers were about third graders of primary school.

    Ugh - so many people have this thought! One of my BEGINNER students just started TEACHING - against my better judgement - because a friend of hers owns a gym and told her he didn't need a pro to teach there because the students would be beginners, so just someone slightly better than beginner would do.....

    Also sorry for the hijack!


  17. #17
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Michaela View Post
    your dance is more complex, high level BUT no dancer can ever omitt basics, since complex moves consist of basic ones
    X differs from the dentist X
    who never bothers with cavities again, happily forgets about regular cleanings.
    Good point...g.:


  18. #18
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Wow, finally jumping back on board to read all these great responses.

    Really, thanks for all the support and encouragement, everyone. Mira, I think you're right, and that I answered my own question!

    When I first started doing this professionally (read: seeking monetary compensation for my favorite hobby) I really thought that teaching is just "what dancers do." They start as hobbyists, start performing at haflas, graduate to paid gigs, and then shortly thereafter, begin teaching. It's pretty much par for the course in my local community.

    Several of you confirmed what I feared all along: that being totally unenthusiastic about teaching can be far more damaging to one's reputation than not teaching at all. I gave teaching a shot for a year or so, hoping it would grow on me, but I always just felt kind of bored in front of a classroom. Of course, I'm very friendly and have a dynamic, outgoing personality, so I hid it well.

    I think I'd feel differently about teaching if I had an enthusiastic, committed group of students, or maybe a more BD-friendly venue to teach at. I'll probably give teaching another shot when I'm a little more secure in myself and when I've built a stronger promotional strategy to get myself the client base I need.

    To Michaela and Daniela, I feel your frustration on beginners teaching beginners, 100%. I know of dancers with 1-2 years of experience under their belts opening their own studios, which just seems like a smack in the face to those of us experienced dancers who work our butts off to show the general public that BD takes dedication and talent and is not just "something anybody can do." It makes me want to cry when I think that they're probably instilling the same disrespectful work ethic and grooming their baby-beginners to prematurely "go pro," too. If it's hard enough not to lose jobs to the Six Week Wonders now, think how hard it'll be when their students embark on their own American Idol ego trips....

    This is why I'm all for standardized testing and certification.

    Lisa


  19. #19
    Mega BHUZzer aazura's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Ok, I'm probably late in this discussion... lots of good advice has already been given... but I'll add to the pile.

    If you don't think you want to teach or are ready to teach (commitment-wise, skill-wise, etc), then don't teach. It's demanding work and if you're not fully committed to it, then both you and your students will suffer. If you change your mind PM me b/c I can give you some teaching leads to help your search...

    Good luck!! ;-)


  20. #20
    Advanced BHUZzer jewelbellydance's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    I gave teaching a shot for a year or so, hoping it would grow on me, but I always just felt kind of bored in front of a classroom. Of course, I'm very friendly and have a dynamic, outgoing personality, so I hid it well.

    I think I'd feel differently about teaching if I had an enthusiastic, committed group of students, or maybe a more bellydance-friendly venue to teach at. I'll probably give teaching another shot when I'm a little more secure in myself and when I've built a stronger promotional strategy to get myself the client base I need.

    Lisa
    And there's the rub - you don't get a class of enthusiastic, committed, advanced students without teaching countless classes of beginners first, and inspiring them to continue. To do that, you need to feel inspired and motivated yourself.

    Perhaps at a later stage, if you do feel you want to teach, it can be more in the context of sharing your performance experience - such as providing workshops for aspiring performers. That might be more fun for you, and very useful for the students.

    Something else you questioned earlier - how do teachers ever find time for their own practice and self-development? I am lazy about my own personal practice (I'm avoiding it now, in fact!), but I find that my teaching time is what develops me most. By breaking down and drilling basic moves 100 times for beginners, I can do them better and without thinking. My prop-work improves every time I teach this to a class, and I have to come up with all sorts of good stuff for my intermediate/advanced students - including really thinking about how to improvise, creating choreographies (some of which I use in performing), understanding rhythms, finding new music, attending workshops to learn new moves, etc etc. And I can't skip out of practicing all this because I am being paid to teach it. My greatest motivator is keeping a step ahead and not making a fool of myself in front of my advanced students!


  21. #21
    Ultimate BHUZzer lizajuk's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    The situation is pretty similar in the UK.
    1. Dancers fall into teaching because they become (at least in their eyes) to be too advanced for the classes they attend. It's often so as teacher gets a constant in and out of beginners.
    2.Dancers think it is the thing to do. As has been said. I learn, I perform therefore I am a teacher.
    3. Dancers realise that even with a class of 4 or 5 they have status in the community ( Geez one of my "classes" is 3. I can't advertise it as another class and it is the rump of a further flung class I can no longer travel to and these are willing to come to me)
    4. Dancers want to make some money from the talent and knowledge they have.
    5. Dancers are limited by age for dance opportunities

    Before I go further, no there are no rules..you do NOT have to teach and believe it or not you need training and skills to teach
    ,m:: Yes I get angry with people who think it is an easy way to earn a living and I get angry with teachers who do not continue to learn their craft of dance.
    I had 4 years study under my academic belt before I taught at the blackboard so why do you not need to learn to be a teacher of belly dance. I know I am going OT but it narks me something wicked when I hear "I am going off to teach" without any thought going into the process. And neither am I saying you have to do what I did (despite being a teacher with a government number to prove it!) and get belly dance teacher training. There are plenty who have learnt "on the job" but they do it well because they have the natural skills of communication,perception,authority and sensitivity as well as being able to dance a bit.
    If you don't want to teach ,don't do it, it will show!
    But a lean class is not a reason to give up just yet.
    Sounds like you need a new venue. One that will not restrict you and you need to think out your own personal "goal" in teaching and the terms upon which you will teach, what youwant to achieve and how to go about it.
    Any doubts then carry on performing.


  22. #22
    I could get used to this! EveRabie's Avatar
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    Re: To Teach or Not to Teach? *long* post ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Shira View Post
    Back when I was a student, I had a teacher who obviously wasn't feeling a passion for it, at least not at that particular time in her life. She was doing it because she liked the income, but it was pretty visible to the students that there wasn't much love of teaching in the room. She'd show up late and unprepared. She'd waste 10 minutes at the start of class admiring pictures of recent performances while everyone stood around waiting for class to start. She wouldn't correct people's errors - I know for a fact that at least one student privately begged her to offer more correction, and still she wouldn't do it.

    That person should not have been teaching.

    I think it can be negative for one's reputation to be teaching if your heart isn't in it.
    I've experienced more than one teacher who has held me back, either because they couldn't, or wouldn't teach technique, or wouldn't teach advanced choreography. More than one class member was frustrated with the choreography, but no one could talk to the teacher about it, as she was a lady with an air about her that kept everyone at arms length, as she floated above everyone else. Needless to say, that teacher is long gone from my life, and several of my fellow dancers' lives as well. Some teacher's, however, are unaware of how inept they are at teaching. They think because they have been dancing for many years that they know it all - and what kills is when they fill about 75% of the teaching bill, but it's that last 25% that you need to make your troupe look really good in performance. It puts you in a bind as a student esp. when you like the teacher.

    Overall - I'd say to anyone, if you don't feel like teaching, don't do it. As another person said, you're not doing your students any favors by doing it half-heartedly. And you're not doing yourself any favors by sticking with something "just because." I'll bet there is another door in your life waiting to open when you move on from this teaching thing that is holding you back. And remember, you could always come back to it later if you wanted to. :)

    I teach only occasionally, and I think it is because of that that I really enjoy it as the people I get to teach are eager and gung-ho, and that really makes a big difference. I become more creative with my choreography, too, tailoring it to the individual student or students.

    Eve
    Last edited by EveRabie; 03-27-2008 at 02:12 PM.


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