Teaching Tips

A Simple Checklist to Complete, Before You Take on Yet Another Teaching Gig

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It's a common scenario in dance. You currently have three part-time teaching gigs around town, plus rehearse a few days a week. You might even nanny, house sit and dog-walk here and there to bring in a little more income.

Another teaching opportunity just came your way this week—a pre-ballet class just added at the local studio or the college in town needs an intermediate modern teacher while the professor is on sabbatical. If you can resist saying an immediate "Yes!"—take 24 to 48 hours to weigh the pros and cons before committing to yet another thing right now. It truly is about time vs. money.


Short-term and long-term goals

How does this gig support your goals? If a short-term goal is simply trying to make $50 or $150 more a month, this opportunity might be just right for right now. If a longer-term goal might be an aspiration to teach more regularly at this particular studio, saying yes now might lead to more steady and robust work in the future.

Gut check

What excites you about the job? What are some immediate hesitations?

Pay

Just to be clear—is the figure the director quoted you an hourly rate or per class rate? (Don't get confused!) $50 per class for a 90-minute beginning teen ballet class is very different than $50/hour for this class. Will you be an independent contractor or on payroll? Do you need to submit an invoice? How often will you be paid? Do you need to regularly attend staff meetings, and what is the payment for those?

Prep time and repeating class plans

This is a big component to consider! If you would be teaching a beginning adult tap class, but you don't teach this anywhere else right now, how much more prep work will be necessary each week? Or are you saying yes to a class that you already teach somewhere else right now? Plus, in your estimation, how many times will you repeat the same lesson plan before preparing a new one?

Commute time

Another detail that can sneak up on you—the amount of time to get to and from this new job. By adding this new gig, how much more time will you be in the car each week, or paying for public transit?

Performances or open studios

Is there a final performance at the end of the semester or a week of open classes? Looking at your calendar, are you free those dates?

Music

You might currently be a teaching artist who loves streaming from Spotify. You have not purchased individual songs in more than two years. At this new site, can you stream? What are the Wi-Fi capabilities, and what is the stereo system?

Space to prep

Will the new gig offer you studio space free of charge to prepare? Don't assume that it is free, or readily available!

Perks

Sometimes very part-time teachers do not qualify, but it is always worth asking. Do you get free or reduced classes, rehearsal space or performance tickets?

Online research

Spend 15–30 minutes online on the potential employer's site and also searching online for reviews and articles about the program. What do you glean are the priorities and values of the program? Who else teaches there?

Talking it through with a colleague or mentor

A lifelong skill is practicing being in dialogue with colleagues and mentors about career opportunities, goals, sustainable teaching schedules and fair wages. Time to send your colleague a text or Facebook message right away!

Best wishes as you consider this new gig, and congrats about the new opportunities and new possibilities ahead!


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