So You Think You Can Teach?
Over the last year or so, I’ve slowly been trained [ie. Helped out with classes] to teach beginners classes and am currently doing training for intermediate classes. I love it! It’s such a fantastic feeling when you watch a student finally understand a move and make that connection between body and mind. I know it sounds incredibly corny, but it’s enough to make you proud!
Teaching takes a lot of careful planning. You basically get a blank canvas of belly dance knowledge and whatever they learn from you is ALL THEY KNOW. Which is why I believe it’s so important to be on top of belly dance trends and being able to talk to your students about it, as well as all the issues coming up in the belly dance community [and as we know, there is no shortage of those!]. As teachers, it’s our JOBS to know our art. Obviously, it goes without saying that it’s a total pleasure to learn about it too, but we are obligated to learn as much as we possibly can before we try and teach.
I know quite a few people out there would be a bit opposed to me teaching, as I’ve only been dancing for 3 and a bit years. I feel that I am capable of teaching beginners, and educating them sufficiently so that they feel comfortable enough to pass onto the intermediate class. I realize and freely admit to knowing nothing in comparison to some teachers, but I feel, for my area and amount of years that I do know quite a lot. I try my hardest to look into every avenue of belly dance [simply because it is a passion, and never work for me!] and educate myself, and therefore be more equipped to answer questions from students.
I have learnt that everybody learns at a different pace and there WILL be slow people in the class, as well as those that learn quickly and very possibly could get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. However, I’ve learned to talk to the class about the moves they’re doing, show them variations, add arms and then go back to the basic move and tell them they can add arms or travel a bit if they feel like they’ve got it well enough. I also like to tell them some different names for the move they may be doing [serpentine, vertical figure 8, etc] so that if they were to go to a workshop, they would know different movements just by the names.
I have also learned that not everybody is as passionate about belly dancing as I am, and although I want to give them as much information as possible, I need to realize that some people are just there to have fun, and that it should be fun above all! Which is incredibly difficult to do if you want to show how serious belly dancing can be.
I like to plan my lessons out before hand, roughly knowing what I’m going to be teaching the class. I like to do a 15 minute warm up, 45-50 minutes of dancing and then 10 minutes cool down. You have no idea how long 45 minutes can be until you have to fill them up! I came across my biggest difficulty there, because you don’t want to introduce too many new things in one lesson, but you also don’t want to go over old moves too much either. There needs to be a balance of going over some older moves, starting some new ones and then I like to teach choreography. I know a lot of people disagree with me, and they say that choreography is something students should work towards. And in a way, I do agree, but I think having choreography to work towards makes it more enjoyable for them. You don’t want to go to a class and have a drill sergeant doing moves with you and having nothing to show people at home with no prospect of performing.
Over all, I’m really loving teaching and while I believe that I know almost nothing, what I DO know I want to pass on to others so that they might find the joy in dancing that I do.
Disclaimer: This post is full of corny-ness, I apologize.