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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dance Teacher Boredom

I love teaching dance. I really do. But like every teacher, sometimes I lose my motivation. It's easy to go through the motions of teaching a class, giving the same combinations with the same corrections I usually do. It's easy to "check out" when I feel exhausted or sick or discouraged. Just like I need to prevent my students from getting bored or frustrated, I need to be careful not to let myself become unmotivated.  Here are a few of the ways I try to keep my classes fresh and my mind engaged when teaching dance: 

Stay Inspired 
I stay up to date with what's going on in the wide world of dance by reading my favorite dance publications, especially Dance Teacher magazine. Reading about what other successful teachers and studio owners are up to not only gives me great idea to use in the studio, but helps me remember that I'm not alone in this crazy industry. Live dance performances, good music, art and books can also provide inspiration even when they're not dance related. 

Change Things Up
I follow a syllabus for all of my classes, but allow myself the freedom to change up the combinations and music choices regularly. Bringing in new class music also helps keep my students from getting bored, so it's a top priority for me and something I don't mind spending money on (if I'll get enough use out of it). Even changing where I stand in the room to demonstrate combos can help keep me (and my dancers) engaged. When I can afford it, I treat myself to a new leotard or fun top to wear to class. It sounds trivial, but feeling confident in my appearance helps me maintain my energy and enthusiasm in class. 

Take Breaks
This is the hardest one for me and, I imagine, for a lot of self-employed people. I'm tempted to cram as many classes into each week as possible both for financial reasons and because I enjoy them so much. This fall I've maintained a teaching schedule of about 20 hours per week, which is nothing compared to what school teachers put it, but still draining. Add to that the preparation time for each class (total of about 5 -7 hours per week), administrative duties,  freelance work and raising a toddler and I've got my hands pretty full.  Whenever I'm able to take a week or two off from teaching, I always feel so much more excited to return to the studio.

With our studio Christmas break approaching, I've decided to take a solid two weeks off of all dance teacher related jobs (including private lessons) to rest my mind and body before beginning an even more packed teaching schedule in January. 

When it comes to your job, what do you do to keep yourself motivated? 

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