Ask the Experts: Stepping Back from Teaching

This is my 35th year. What’s the proper way to step back and begin letting qualified teachers teach my classes—without raising concern from parents or making my dancers feel like I’ve left them?

When you start reducing the number of classes you teach to focus on mentoring teachers, running the office or spending time outside of the studio, most parents and dancers will appreciate the vision you have for the future of your studio. We recommend you approach this transition with enthusiasm and a clear plan. Your best chance for smooth integration and student retention is to find and interview teachers before the end of your dance season. Any potential candidates should teach a mock class for you to see if their teaching style and philosophy align with your studio culture before you make a decision.

Once you hire a teacher, build trust before she begins, by introducing her to your students and families in an e-mail with a picture and bio/credentials. It’s also a nice touch to include a personal message from the new teacher or a quote about what she’s looking forward to. If possible, have the new teacher shadow you before the school year ends and co-teach your classes. Use these few weeks to make any recommendations for improvement or adjustment. This will also be a good time for a new teacher to become familiar with your curriculum and share ideas for future class plans.

Let parents and students know what your new role at the studio will be, moving forward, and that you are available for questions at any time. It’s natural to feel sad as this transition happens, but when you take time to celebrate what is possible for your dancers and studio, this can be an exciting new chapter in your life.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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