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Teaching Dance – My Job is To Expect More of You (and then some…)

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My job is to push you, to challenge your limits.  If I am doing my job right, I am regularly encouraging you to move out of your comfort zone, test your stamina and bend your brain. Some classes you will leave sweating and exhausted, but I don’t consider my work with you to be a drill sergeant. Some classes you will leave with your mind percolating with discourse on history and creativity, but I don’t consider my work with you to be only dance theory. Some classes you will leave frustrated, some you will leave exhilarated, some you will leave feeling a mix of both; but in all cases I want you to leave feeling awakened and accomplished.

My job is to expect more of you than you might think you are capable of.  At times you may feel frustrated or even resentful of what I am asking, but I promise you that I won’t ever ask anything of you that I am not confident you will be able to achieve. All I need from you is effort and an open mind. Together we will reveal what you’re truly made of.

My job is to help you set realistic expectations.  While sometimes I will push you when you want to hold back, at other times you may feel I am putting the brakes on when you want to rush forward.  My goal is to instill enough trust in you to believe I have your best interests at heart–I want you to be able to put your best foot forward, and sometimes that means pulling back, reigning in, paring down.  I want you to be proud of everything you create, and never regret rushing a moment of your dance path that you could have sunk into and savored.

My job is to hold you accountable.  If you are late to rehearsal, if you don’t bring all your costume pieces to practice, if it is evident you haven’t been practicing at home, it is my job to call you on that and expect it to change.  My job is to keep the balance for all the dancers working together, so the whole group benefits.  Firm but gentle, I will set the benchmarks and help keep you on track.

My job is to be consistent and reliable.  I will be there on time, prepared to give you the best dance experience I can offer.  We all have “life stuff” that challenges us and threatens to distract us from making our best efforts–I promise to leave mine at the door and hope you will try to do the same. I will do my best to set logical expectations that are clearly expressed, and stick to them.  There is always room for flexibility, but it should never be at the expense of being your teacher representing a bedrock of support and predictable outcomes which you can rely on. I won’t pull the rug out from under you, so what you see is what you will get.

My job is to stay at the top of my game by continuing to learn and grow as a teacher and performer.  I consider it part of my work (and a joy!) as a teacher to also always be a willing and eager student.  Art changes and grows, teaching methods change and grow, we change and grow, your needs change and grow. I am best prepared to meet those needs if I am also nurturing my own art. I won’t rest on my laurels. I hope to always have something a little new and unexpected to share. It keeps the learning experience interesting for you AND for me.

My job is to be open.  I endeavor to listen to your needs and respond to them in the best way I know how.  I will do my best to make sure you never feel dismissed or unappreciated. You pay me to provide you your dance education–I am grateful for your investment in me and your dance, and take that responsibility very seriously.  I recognize that every student has different needs, and I can’t meet them if I don’t make an effort every day to see you and hear you.  If it ever seems I am not hearing you, remind me. I am not glass, but I am human, and may need your respectful nudging from time to time. Your classroom experience is a combined effort, of you and I working in tandem to make it successful and joyful. I promise to be honest and fair with you, and ask the same in return.

My job is to remain humble, remembering always that if it weren’t for all of my amazing, trusting, eager students, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love so dearly.   You are not here because of me, instead I am here because of You.  Thank you for empowering me to walk this joyful, rewarding path of being your teacher.

These are just some of my very important jobs as your dance teacher or mentor–these are the roles I play every day.  If you are my student, I want you to know I am truly honored to be your teacher. And even if you are not my student, I promise to try and uphold these ideals as an example of what everyone deserves in a teacher.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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