Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spiral Up: Empower Your Students!

The more resources we provide for our students, the stronger they will become.
Photo by Geisha Moth

This concept is something I firmly believe in and practice regularly.  I feel that my students excel not only because of what I offer them through my instruction, but also by making them aware of other opportunities outside of what I know or do. Multiple influences make for stronger, more unique dancers.

So it confounds me when I encounter teachers who won't tell their students about upcoming workshops, shows, festivals, and other events. It makes me sad for not only the students, but for the teachers, as most of their possible reasons are rooted in fear.  And fear doesn't belong in the classroom.

Here are few of the reasons I've heard along the way:

-"I want to check out this workshop teacher first, then I will know if it's OK for my students."So when's the next time that teacher may be in town again? Bringing in visiting instructors is not an easy or inexpensive task, and for it to happen regularly requires the support of a community - teachers AND students.  If the topic is something I am interested in, I'm pretty sure my students are going to be interested as well. Likewise, my students may be interested in things I don't teach.  It's not my job to pass approval on who they can or can't study with.  Of course you definitely want your students to learn from your idols and influences - all the while you don't want them to waste money on a class that's poorly taught or may injure them.  But you don't have to vet every workshop and instructor for them.

-"I prefer to keep ahead of my students." Or "I don't want to look dumb in front of them." 
If you're only a couple steps ahead of your students and are relying just on the odd workshop to keep that distance, you probably shouldn't be teaching.  It may sound harsh, but if that's your main fear, it's not a healthy one.  Understand that everyone learns differently, and what you pick up on depends on what you are open to in that moment, and the same is true for your students.  So don't be afraid to have your students in the same workshop you are in.  They will absorb what they can or are most interested in, and you can always go over that material together in class and talk about it further.  And it's also important to recognize that EVERYONE feels like a student when learning new things - no one is born a perfect dancer.  It shows compassion that you understand the process and wisdom that you don't claim to know everything.

-"They're not ready."
Workshops can be a geared to a wide range of levels.  Unless a workshop is specifically marketed for intermediate/advanced dancers or is a master class, most students will benefit from trying a workshop. Just as long as they understand they're not going to get everything, and THAT IS OK.  In fact, it's unrealistic to retain absolutely everything you learned in a 2 hour workshop! Heck, even in an hour class, there's a reason why we go over previous material.  So don't hold them back - challenges make for growth.

-"I don't want to lose my students."This is just the wrong attitude to have and it WILL make you lose them. You don't own your students, they pay you to teach them.  If they are inspired by someone else, and want to try their classes, there's nothing wrong with that.  If they truly enjoy working with you and learning from you, they will be there for as long as they can.  But realize, everything is temporary, everything changes.

So if you want to be a good teacher, keep an eye on your local community and what's happening.  If there's bigger events in or out of your area you enjoy, pass along the word. Share the love, spread the knowledge, and you'll see the growth!  Everyone spirals up together!

1 comment:

  1. "I want to check out this workshop teacher first, then I will know if it's OK for my students." particularly doesn't wash when 10 minutes on the internet should probably provide sufficient information about the workshop instructor to know if they are OK!