What makes the difference between a good dancer and a good teacher? What differentiates a good dance teacher from a great one? Some of these factors are pretty obvious: Top dance instructors live and breathe for dance and their passion inspires their students and sharing their knowledge and passion is more than a job, it’s a calling. From a student’s perspective, a great dance teacher will not only teach them the physical aspects of dance, but also help students to incorporate the creativity, discipline, and confidence they learn from dance into other parts of their lives.
- Love Of Teaching – It goes without saying that someone who takes a job as a dance instructor will love dance, but top dance instructors also love teaching. They understand that it’s an honor to be given their students’ trust and confidence, and they rise to be worthy of that honor. They take pleasure in watching their students grow and mature, not only as dancers, but also as complete humans.
- Support, Empathy, And Encouragement – Another key trait in a great dance teacher is that she remembers what it was to be a beginner, or to struggle with acquiring a particular new skill, to feel discouraged or inadequate – and what it feels like to have a teacher help you find your way through those challenges. A dance teacher who is mindful of those struggles is in an excellent position to offer the student empathy while pushing them to succeed, in a way that feels supportive and encouraging to the student.
- Respect – A great dance teacher will respect each student as an individual, no matter what their skill levels or challenges. On any given day, a student will be able to accomplish some things, and will struggle with others. A great teacher won’t compare one student to another, but will compare each student to him- or herself: “Hey, I’m really proud of you for working on that thing you had trouble with last week. You’ve totally got that down! Don’t worry, that other thing you struggled with this week will come. Just keep trying.” Teaching with respect encourages students to respect themselves and their efforts, and to maintain a healthier inner dialog.
- Observation And Flexibility – There’s more than one way to teach dance, and a great teacher will be able to observe students and zoom in on what will work best for each student. These teachers know how to spot things like physical limitations that may require an adaptive technique, and they’re sensitive to the fact that learning is a mental process as well as a physical one, so sometimes, a short discussion may be in order to help a student understand and own their new knowledge fully. A great dance teacher creates an environment where students think and ask questions, experiment, and explore, because those are elements as critical to learning as physical training.
Top Dance Instructors Build Happy, Healthy Students
Respect-based instruction is far more effective than harsher and more critical instruction, because it teaches students to evaluate their performance and make corrections instead of harsh self-criticism and comparisons that can ultimately lead to discouragement, depression, and failure. The best dance instruction takes a holistic approach, recognizing the opportunity to teach students important lessons about nurturing and encouraging themselves to succeed not only in dance, but also in all aspects of their lives.