Should I compensate teachers for attending competitions?

Q: My staff has complained that they’re not being compensated enough for their time at competitions, and some feel they don’t even need to attend. Is it appropriate to pay teachers to chaperone or attend weekend events with my students?

A: If a teacher commits to choreographing any competition routine, they must know what’s expected of them if they attend the events, and it’s your job to make those expectations clear.

My studio typically attends four or five competitions per season, though we do not ask the teachers or choreographers to attend all of them. Because of the limited time between routines at events, I don’t feel that many faculty members are needed. It does depend on the ages or levels of your dancers—younger students generally require more help in warming up and preparing for the routines. My teachers do not chaperone the students—that is the parents’ responsibility. If a parent cannot make it to an event, she must make arrangements with another parent to control her child.

Our teachers are not paid to attend competitions, however I augment their compensation for class hours and choreography throughout the year. We do pay for teachers’ meals during the event, as well as one night’s stay per season in a hotel, if necessary. Other studios often tag on a small amount to each student’s competition entry fee to cover faculty expenses at competitions. Just remember: Regardless of how you compensate teachers for their time, always be up-front and honest about it well before the season begins.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Ontario, Canada

Photo courtesy of Dance Teacher Summit

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