So You Think You Can Teach?


A grabbed it off Google Images - not my photo!

 

So You Think You Can Teach?

Think again.

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.

 

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3 comments

  1. You know, there is no set time period of experience that makes a great teacher. Some people are naturally inclined to be great teachers, and even with experience not all great dancers can teach. I like that you constantly perfect your craft.

    As someone new to belly dancing myself, all I want in a teacher is someone who can cater lessons to each individual student, if necessary. I’m pretty uncoordinated 🙂

    I haven’t taken my first lesson yet, so I don’t know about the choreography part, but I know in my running and swimming, I always perform better at practice if there is a goal. Or someone watching me!

    There’s a great article on inexperienced teachers posted on Dilara’s Diary, http://www.hipmix.net/blog, and I think your input on the matter might be really interesting, considering how people give you a hard time.

    I have to say, 3 years seems like a good amount of time, but then again I’m new here.

  2. First of all, I had no idea my blog got linked here. Thank you!

    Second of all, just like everyone else, we’re all different, in that some people began teaching only after a year of training and some have been learning for decades but never feel comfortable with teaching or even sharing.

    I used to prefer performing to teaching because in performances, I just dance. Nobody expects me to breakdown a movement, drill a technique over and over again, or explain what rhythm is being played, etc. I taught my first class in May 2009 and on the eve of the very day, I couldn’t sleep. And yeah, I wanted to create a little choreography that everyone could learn despite their level (I taught a split-level class of basic to beginner) but I had to make sure everyone was learning the right posture, the right technique, because I know for a fact that bad posture and wrong technique could lead to nasty injuries.

    But after getting the hang of it, I discovered the joy of teaching, and you put it so beautifully there: it starts with a blank canvas. I was so frustrated at the beginning when I taught veil work to a group of students, but in the end, they did it so, so beautifully that it got my crying. And that’s also something else: when you have students dancing to your creation, and not just like robots, but they put everything in learning your piece, even the shortcomings won’t be noticed. You’ll wallow in pride. Well, it fueled my ego (HA!).

    I don’t mean to be preachy, but I always tell my students that I talk and drill a lot in class. I used to be a perfectionist, but I’ve learned to be forgiving and more giving and always squeeze in a choreography (two or three combinations, at least) in the end.

    And lastly, I don’t think what you blogged is corny. Inspiring? Absolutely. Corny? Far from it.

    Toodles!

  3. I think it’s great that you are teaching!
    And nothing accelerates learning than trying to help someone else learn…

    I’d love to teach bellydance and hoopdance someday… Those are my goals! 🙂

    Nice blog!

    xox

    Maya Kaval

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