Thirteen Things The Best Teachers Do

Some teachers seem to effortlessly connect with their students, making any lesson fascinating—from dégagés to dance history. Becoming one of these teachers often comes down to the way you relate to your students. In Simply the Best: 29 Things Students Say the Best Teachers Do Around Relationships, authors Kelly E. Middleton and Elizabeth A. Petitt compiled a list of characteristics based on what students said in focus groups. Here are 13 examples, adapted by Dance Teacher to transfer from the classroom to the studio.

 

Students say, "The best teachers..."

 

“…know us personally.” Make a conscious effort to use a student’s name when giving corrections or compliments.

 

“…let us know who they are as individuals.” Students shouldn’t be your best friends, but tell them about some of your hobbies and interests outside of the studio.

 

“…smile at us.” Be aware of your face when you talk to students—a smile is worth a thousand words.

 

“…argue with us in a fun way in informal situations.” Before or after class, remember that your students enjoy a little humor just as much as you do.

 

“…check on us when we are sick.” If a child has missed consecutive classes, call home to check in or send a condolence card. They will appreciate how much you care and learn a lesson in compassion.

 

“…establish rules for everyone, including themselves.” If your students can’t check cell phones in class, neither should you. If they have a strict ballet dress code, consider donning a leotard and tights for class as well.

 

“…are consistent.” Students should know what to expect in class and what is expected from them every day. They should never have to adjust based on your mood.

 

“…are energetic, enthusiastic and enjoy their job.” Showing some excitement about dance class will encourage students to be excited about it, too.

 

“…help us on their own time with our work.” Staying after class to help a student perfect a combination is worth the effort. She’ll appreciate the personal sacrifice you’ve made.

 

“…are in control of the class.” No matter how much you want your students to like you, you should still be an authority figure. Students need limits and structure.

 

“…value our work and effort.” Don’t mislead students about the quality of their work, but keep comments motivational and practice constructive criticism.

 

“…tell us they believe in us and work with us to be successful.” Convince your students that they are capable of nailing a triple pirouette or winning that trophy. It may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 

 

“…admit it when they mess up or make mistakes.” If you say something harsh or overreact in class, apologize for it and explain that teachers make mistakes, too.

 

(Photo ©istockphoto.com/Suzy Oliveira)

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.