Here's What Studio Owners Should Be Looking for When Observing Their Teachers


Q: I'm observing my teachers this month. Are there specific things I should give feedback on?

A: Your studio benefits from having a set of teaching standards that are the foundation of your dance program. Create a list of criteria that quantifies these traits and provide it to your teachers before observing them. This may include feedback on:

Teacher professionalism

• Are they cheerful and encouraging?

• Are they prepared, organized and on time?

• Are their dress and demeanor appropriate for the age and style of the class being taught?

Class environment

• Do they create a safe and supportive classroom?

• Are they maintaining appropriate order and respect?

• Are they making corrections and requests in a clear and professional manner?

• Are the students engaged with the teacher, interested in the class and excited to be there?

Quality of classwork

• Do they provide an adequate warm-up?

• Are they teaching the fundamentals of proper footwork and alignment?

• Are they providing skill-building exercises and across-the-floor combinations?

• Is the choreography appropriate for the age and skill level of the dancers?

During the week you've selected for observation, keep your visit purposeful and professional. It's best to stay to the side of the room where you are least likely to distract the students or cause any nervousness. Save all comments or areas you want to address for a private debriefing afterward. Be aware that on any given day, there are variables that are out of the teacher's control, such as sickness, injury or tardiness, that can impact the dynamics of class. For these reasons, you may want to create a practice of observing at various times throughout the year versus one continuous week.

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

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.