I have offered a Teacher in Training program at my studio for several years. It is what I call a win- win- win situation. The students that are in the training program benefit as well as the students in the classes they assist in, and the instructors that have an extra set of hands in the classroom. But the benefits go so much deeper than just what we see in the classes. I have found that this program increases the value of a student’s dance education, increases their likelihood to stick around through the teen years, creates leaders out of dance students and can even create trusted faculty members for my studio, not to mention it’s my own personal version of dance karma correction.
Increases Value of Dance Education
We know that a very small percentage of dance students will go on to have a performance career, just as a very small percentage of child athletes will go on to play for a pro team. However, also like in athletics, there are so many more jobs in the field to choose from. For many dancers, teaching is a very exciting and viable career choice, or a great way to be able to earn an income while going to college or spending years auditioning for companies. By creating an opportunity to start studying and building confidence as dance teachers, we transform an after school extracurricular activity into a vocational school, preparing students to be employable and creating real life options whether they move away or stick around after graduation.
Increases Student Retention
Now more than ever, high schoolers are overwhelmed with too many activities, too much homework and so many choices. If a high school aged student has some good guidance they will be told that it is time to narrow their focus and choose to pursue only the activities and extracurriculars that really matter the most to them. One criteria that smart and ambitious teens will use to measure the worth of each activity is where it will take them on their path toward college and career. Creating a program that looks great on college applications and resumes is a great way to create real value and keep those fantastic dance students involved and excited.
In my Teacher in Training program students begin as classroom assistants whose main jobs are to demonstrate the exercises with the lead instructor and help keep small children in the line during across the floor time. Over the course of at least 4 years, they are gradually given more responsibility. Those that stick with the program may eventually be offered their own teaching position with my studio. From the very first year, they are responsible for living up to an agreement that they sign prior to starting as an assistant. The agreement and all interactions thereafter emphasize that they are in a position of being looked up to by the younger dancers. They are expected to represent the studio and the program at all times at the studio and elsewhere. They must think about their actions and the effect that those actions may have on their reputation and their station as leaders and mentors within the studio. I believe that instilling this at an early age will go with them into life regardless of what path they choose and the world will be better for it.
Creates Custom Made Faculty Members
Not everyone sticks with the Teacher in Training program. As with everything, it’s not for everyone. That’s ok, and even if they have just done the program for a year, I know they have learned some valuable lessons. For those that have continued through the program, met the expectations set forth in their agreement, and displayed a real love of sharing dance, a job is waiting for them when they are ready. While most teens’ options are limited to fast food, retail and car washes, these students can already begin in a field for which they feel genuine passion. My studio wins big by gaining a teacher that has been trained in my studio’s curriculum, raised up in my studio’s culture and already a valued mentor to many of my students.
I love teaching dance. I have the deepest gratitude for the amazing people that were my teachers. Given that I was a pretty bad student and a naughty kid most of the time, I owe the universe major pay back; (the aforementioned karma correction). I hope that I can work a little of that off by helping a few new teachers start their teaching journeys. That’s why at Studio Planner Pro, I am making my entire Teacher in Training program available to anyone that is interested. I wish you all the best in your teaching journey and look forward to supporting you in starting the next generation of dance educators on a path to joy and success.