Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Whether online or through word of mouth, I'm constantly hearing dance teachers tear down other teachers who think differently than they do. How do I keep my self-esteem high when our internet culture seems to promote this—and better yet, how do I teach my students to do the same?

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Studio Owners
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Dance teachers aren't dummies. As in every other industry, the importance of social media for growing a business is not lost on any of us. It's in knowing exactly how to use it effectively that's the challenge. For a group of artists who work within the confines of centuries-old techniques, it's no wonder we start shaking in our boots the second we hear words like "algorithm" and "digital strategy." What's more, the Wild West of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is constantly changing. How are any of us supposed to feel like we have a handle on things?

Don't worry—we've got you covered. We caught up with an expert, Brigham Young University School of Communications faculty member Adam Durfee. Named Social Media Innovator of the Year for 2019 by The Social Shake-Up conference, he's spilling on the do's and don'ts that will make all the difference in engaging your audience and growing your dance studio business.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Do you monitor what your dancers post on social media?

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@jamesbwhiteside
Who: American Ballet Theatre
principal James Whiteside
Followers: 96.6K
What you'll see: a lot of muscles and humor, with a healthy dose of cat photos
What may surprise you: Whiteside moonlights as the drag queen Ühu Betch and pop singer JbDubs.

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New Jersey–based yoga enthusiast and teacher Laura Kasperzak uses social media to document her practice and update students on her class schedules. She has recently stumbled into Instagram fame, largely thanks to her daughter’s guest appearances in her yoga photo shoots.

Kasperzak even appeared on “Good Morning America” in a segment on how to turn a social-media presence into business opportunities. "GMA" suggests choosing a specific topic (your favorite dance genre, perhaps?) posting frequently, responding to comments and working your connections. If you’re taking Kasperzak’s example, eye-catching leggings seem to help, too!

Take a look at a few of the mother-daughter pair's most memorable poses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social-media dashboard

Not just another social-media task, HootSuite is a tool that can streamline your online marketing efforts by helping you organize posts and better manage your time. After you register, the site creates a personal dashboard that gives you access to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts all at once. Instead of having several tabs open in your browser, you can view multiple social-media platforms on one screen and cross-post to several with one click. You can even schedule posts in advance, which is helpful when you’re planning to leave the studio or you want to save time by scheduling a week of activity in one sitting. Other convenient built-in features include the ability to shorten links, add geographic locations and save drafts. And with its analytics feature, HootSuite tracks your social-media buzz—how many people click on links and “Like” posts.

The site’s biggest downside is contact management. Though you can tag Twitter followers (for instance, “Look for our studio in this month’s issue of @dance_teacher!”), you can’t do so on Facebook. Regardless, HootSuite is an invaluable tool. The standard version is free, with enough features for the average studio owner, but those who want further customization may opt for the Pro version (starting at $8.99 a month). It’s also available as an app for iPad, iPhone and Android.

Q: I’m not a big fan of social media, but it’s no surprise my students love Twitter, Facebook, etc. Are there ways to use it with my class in a beneficial way?

A: Love it or hate it, social media is a great way to continue the learning outside the studio. Many sites allow you to connect with students in a secure environment; you can create a Facebook group or a Google+ circle, for example. But those sites’ privacy policies are constantly updated, and if you’re not diligent, students may be in contact with you in unexpected or inappropriate ways. (Plus, Facebook owns anything put on their site.)

A favorite site of teachers is Edmodo. Launched in 2008, it’s like a mini-Facebook, but solely for education. Kids like it because it’s online, and teachers can network with educators in their school or others in their subject area nationwide. It’s free to get started, and its interface is very user-friendly if you’re familiar with Facebook. (There’s also a free app for Apple and Android devices.) A home page newsfeed shows online discussions or posted content, and users can control who sees uploaded content—whether it’s sent to a group of students, parents or other teachers.

Edmodo also helps you get a sense of how your students feel. You can poll students for their reactions to certain activities, or post quizzes to learn what they may be confused about. Since students can vote anonymously, you are likely to get a truer sense of the class. You can also send feedback to students privately to encourage them or inspire them to try harder. In many ways, your site can become an online forum for discussions you don’t have time for in class. Students can ask questions, and you can take time to think through an answer. Progress reports let you to track students’ test scores or grades, and there’s a calendar for private tasks or group events.

Info: edmodo.com

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends School in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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