The Seasons of Life As A Dance Teacher

As a professional dance teacher, it’s super-important to know about the seasons of teaching, and how they affect your career and your income.  Teaching dance is a very rewarding career that offers many benefits, but also has many challenges along with it. If you’re aware of the challenges, and various seasons ahead of time, you can better plan for how you will navigate your way through them.

January – June

This time of year is a very busy and exciting time for dance teachers because it’s the time of year when you have parents’ days, and also begin preparing for dance competition and dance recital season, depending on the studio you teach at. Another thing to keep in mind during this time of year, as it relates to job opportunities is that, this is a great time for the following:

–          Get hired to choreograph for a dance studio’s dance competition team.

–          Get hired for a teaching position from Jan. – June (There are always new opportunities that open up, because many teachers leave dance studios at the end of the year.)

–          Begin contacting leads about Summer teaching positions

Although this is not the busiest hiring season of the year, the above opportunities are readily available to you, if you look for them in an assertive and proactive manner.

Here are some more things to work on during this season:

–         Save Your Money. As dancers, and dance teachers, we know that there can be some pretty extreme feast or famine times in our careers. So, while the cash is flowing freely, make sure you’re saving your money to help ease the pain of the lean times that may be ahead.

–          Save and Plan To Attend A Dance Teacher Conference. There are some great dance teacher conferences that happen during the Summer months, but let me tell you, they’re not cheap! And if you don’t plan and save in advance to attend these conferences, you won’t be able to go. So now is the time to begin that process, so that by the Summer, you are all set.

–          Work On Your Own Projects. As dance teachers, we really have to be very diverse in our work, and always be creating our own opportunities, while simultaneously working on other projects at dance studios, schools, etc. This helps to create a balance in your life, keep your passion ignited, and also supplement your income in various ways. So whether you have a consulting business on the side, are a writer, freelance choreographer, business owner, personal trainer, nutritionist, or whatever, use this time to build some momentum for your own projects. Again, this will help to carry you through the lean times, when they inevitably come.

July – September

This is the busiest time of year, and at the same time, the slowest time of year. How can that be you ask? Well, it’s a busy time of year for hiring new dance teachers. Most dance studios are actively looking for teachers to start in the Fall and teach during the school year, during the Summer months. So if you want to lock down your teaching gigs for the school year, this is the time to do it.

It’s also the slowest time of year because, most dance studios do not have the same, full schedule during the Summer months, that they have during the school year. Less classes, means less staff needed. Less staff needed means fewer teaching opportunities for dance teachers. Unless, you branch out, diversify, and establish yourself at different dance studios  and dance programs during the Summer. Although it is the time where many kids and their families go away on vacation, or simply take a break from the craziness of their normal dance class schedule, there are still many opportunities to be had. Summer intensives, dance camps, day camps, sleep-away camps, dance workshops, and master classes, are all happening during the Summer, so don’t be discouraged by the obvious drop in the normal dance class schedule.

Be proactive, and get yourself ready for the Fall, by reaching out to the places that you currently teach at, places where you’ve taught in the past, and send your resume and headshot out to various dance studios who are hiring online. That way, by August (at the latest), your schedule is all set for the Fall/school year.

Some more great things to do during the Summer season are:

–          Take dance classes. They help you to stay in shape, challenge you, remind you of what it feels like to be a student, and also sparks your creative juices!

–          Go to a dance teacher conference. There is nothing better than getting together with fellow dance teachers, from all over the world, to share ideas, inspire, encourage, and uplift one another. Plus you get to learn new trends, techniques, and choreography to use in your dance classes, not to mention be re-energized, network, and have some fun. Most importantly, if you do some smart networking, you will walk away with lots of new teaching/choreography opportunities for the year, from networking with the dance studio owners who attend these conferences.

–          Reflect on why you teach dance. This time of year is a great time to reflect on the previous year, think about what things worked, and what didn’t, and plan what you’d like to accomplish and work towards in the coming school year.

–          Try out other professional opportunities. Since your teaching schedule may have slowed down for a couple of months, this is the perfect time to explore some of your other gifts, talents, and interests that are able to create revenue for you. Click here for some income-generating ideas for your career.

September – December

This is one of the most exciting times of the year for dance teachers because it’s the time when you see your old students, whom you may have missed all Summer, and get to meet lots of new students who you will mold throughout the year. It’s the perfect time to start fresh, and implement any new strategies or ideas that you may have come up with during the Summer. This is the time to push yourself, and your students, out of your comfort zone, and set your expectations high for the year ahead.

Communicate with your dance studio owner, and the parents about what they expect for the year ahead, and what their goals are for your students. This is the time to whip your students back into shape, as many of them don’t dance at all during the Summer, and also use some of the new techniques you learned over the Summer in class, and at those conferences.

Also use this time to:

–          Educate your students about dance in non-traditional ways. Give them homework. Yes! You read that correctly! Most of the kids/teens nowadays think that Chris Brown created Hip-Hop, and that Baryshnikov is a type of Russian vodka! You get my point. Most kids/teens today, know nothing about dance history, and the origins and pioneers of the styles that they’re learning at their dance studio today. So it’s your job, as their teacher, to educate them, as best you can.

–          Take Your Students On A Trip. Believe it or not, many of your students may have never seen a professional ballet company perform, may have never heard of Alvin Ailey or Paul Taylor, or may have never been to a Broadway show. This is a great time to plan a trip at your dance studio, and help to expand the minds of your students, expose them to something new, and give them something to motivate them, and show them the possibilities for a career as a dance teacher.

–          Have A Heart To Heart With Your Students. Take some time to check in with your students one-on-one and/or as a group, and discuss what their goals are for the year, and what they’d like to accomplish in your dance classes, and in school that year. Set goals, be specific, then hold each one of them accountable to them, and of course check in with them throughout the year to see how they’re doing. This is a great way to connect with your students, offer encouragement when they need it, and show them that you care.

–          Let Your Students Choreograph. This is one of the most fun activities for all students, and I absolutely love doing it as their teacher too! It’s so much fun to see them create, get excited, experiment with new movement and ideas, challenge themselves, and then share their work with the class. It is so gratifying for everyone involved, it’s a must-do in your dance classes. It’s also a great exercise for those students who plan to explore dance as a career, and study it in college. Starting to choreograph at a young age will definitely give them an advantage.

So those are the seasons of life as a dance teacher, in a nutshell. As you can see, there is never a dull moment! But it’s lots of fun, hard-work, and very rewarding.

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