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Training While Teaching

My Journey As a Teacher

Early Experiences

 I have been teaching for over a decade. From being captain in high school, to being an officer on my collegiate dance team, to being a dance teacher at a local dance studio for 3 years, to my current role as  a dance team director—- all of these experiences have molded and shaped me into being a great leader and an effective teacher. 

The Difficult Phase

Here’s the catch-I haven’t always taught dance. My biggest teaching experience was when I taught  English and Speech. I HATED it! Although I grew as an educator, I realized that I missed dance. I was very miserable and unhappy in that position because it was not serving my passion or my goals.  This only made me dream bigger and work harder. I kept myself focused on dance by linking with my good friend Danielle to work with her & her dance students on a regular basis. I set a plan for myself to become a dance educator, start training again, and eventually to become a professional dancer/ choreographer.

Finally, after 4 very very long years,  I was blessed to become a high school dance teacher and dance director. That extra time and energy I spent keeping myself focused and connected to dance paid off.  When my team DOMINATED 2 competitions in a row, I was happy to be sharing my craft in a meaningful way, and I knew that I could reach new levels in my personal career. 

The Full Circle Moment

Fast forward 6 months past the height of a global pandemic, I began my training again, and after 2 short months, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach commercial classes. To be honest, I was not ready! I felt like I needed to train more, I needed to become a better dancer, I didn’t know a lot of people in the dance community, and a million other reasons why that was not the right time.  But the truth is, I am ready, I’ve been ready, I was born ready. All of my experiences, especially those 4 years in the classroom, set me up for this very moment. It’s crazy because I didn’t see that until now.

 

So why do I still choose to be a student, when I’m confident in my role as a teacher?



Glad you asked:

It allows me to grow as a teacher
When I started training again last September, the goal was to grow and familiarize my body with movement again. In order to do that, I trained in multiple styles from various choreographers in the Houston area at least 5 times a week. Naturally when I am in class, I’m thinking from a student’s perspective, but also from a teaching perspective. I can easily spot or dissect how students are receiving, and how they aren’t. This helps me stay connected to what it’s like to be a student, so that I can best serve my clientele when I am the teacher.
It allows me to explore and expand
If you don't train in classes outside of your own, you grow stagnant and complacent. One of my consistent goals is to find new levels and paths for creativity, without producing works that come out “flat”. There are many ways to be inspired in the digital age with Instagram and Youtube, but the best way is to physically get in classes and workshops to observe teaching patterns, learn new movement that is different from your own, and challenge the mind.
It shows that I’m human and normal
I see so many of the students that come to my classes in other classes, and they often express to me how much that means to them because they don’t see it often. When I’m in class training, I’m focused, I’m learning, I’m the queen of mistakes, and I am free. I am literally just there to push myself to new levels and get better. I don’t care about being the best or getting it perfect because I’M HUMAN. Honestly, if I reached the point where I felt I was perfect in classes, then what am I gaining?
It allows me to continue to network
I’ve made some really good dance pals over the past few months by going to the different classes and training with them. Yes, I connect with those that come to my classes, but it’s great to meet new faces in different places too. Even though I can’t train with other teachers and choreographers as much anymore, I enjoy the moments I do get to go to see familiar faces, get a push,and potentially create new opportunities by doing so.
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THE TEACHER AS THE STUDENT

I’m saying all of this to say, if I don’t know anything else, I know that I was made to teach. I come from a family of educators, and I have walked an interesting journey that has landed me right where I am today. We may not always know where our paths will lead us or what obstacles we may face along the way, but if you trust your journey by working towards your goals everyday, you’ll end up right where you want to be. 

Comment and share your story,  your journey,  or thoughts about training and teaching below!

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