By Steve Sirico of Dance Teacher Web
Teaching over the long haul can be a drain, especially if you are teaching a lot of classes and are pushed to create. One of the toughest things teachers face throughout the season is to stay motivated and energized. You are constantly giving and if you are not careful you can drain your battery and teaching can become a struggle. One way to keep motivated is to constantly be focusing on yourself and your needs. This may sound a bit selfish or egotistical but you are the key to protecting yourself. Don’t wait until you get to that tipping point! Know what makes you tick and when you need to relax, what makes you happy outside of dance and when you will make time for you.
That is one of the reasons we created DanceTeacherWeb.com. We have talked to many teachers and so many times they have told us that they feel exhausted and never seem to have any time for themselves. But, as we all know, it is more than just ideas and steps. It is about the energy it takes to give and then give some more.
Most dance teachers have to teach many different styles and levels. One minute you are on the floor with preschoolers. Then you are teaching a tap class. Next up is an advanced ballet, jazz or modern class. Sounds familiar? The other problem is that dance teachers have a hard time saying no. We do privates; choreograph for our shows, competition teams or company. So we keep on adding more and more onto our plate until we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and just slightly resentful.
This is something I think we are all familiar with, so the question is, what do we do about it?
The first thing I would recommend is to get a daily planner. Write in it everything that you have planned for each day, week and month. Try to build the whole season into the planner.
Next, take a look at where you can and will build in your “down time”. Write in your vacations and days off. Next, get a piece of paper and write at least five things down that you love to do outside of dance and studio business. It may be a massage, walking your dog, reading a book, taking a swim, playing tennis or golf, getting in the car and going for a day trip. Whatever it is that you like to do and that you find relaxing must go on this list. Now go to your daily planner and see how you can work these things into your schedule. Try to do at least two of these things each month.
Once they are on your schedule try not to let anything get in the way of this important time. Now when you take a look at you schedule it won’t look so bad after all. There is another element that is so important to these “down time” moments. You will find that your creativity is enhanced. Some of the best ideas I have come up with have been away from the studio. Your mind is free to think and sometimes even the smallest or most unexpected idea can be the igniter for your creativity. It really is just giving ourselves that much needed space that enables us to come up with some great thoughts. It also puts us in the position where we can step back and really look at everything in a better and more positive perspective. I know how hard it is to get away from teaching and not think or talk about everything that is happening at the studio. By giving yourself these times when you are away from your work it is so much easier to clearly find solutions to any situations.
One very important factor in all of this is to use your “down time” in the most positive mode as possible, try not to dwell on any negative things that may be happening. This is not an easy thing to do but these times away will be of no use to you if that is your focus. When these thoughts come into your mind you must push them out and refocus on the creative thoughts. If you are having a hard time, then try not to think about dance at all. Get away from it mentally and physically. Have fun trying these methods and see if they make your life a bit easier. The idea is to keep you feeling fresh, motivated and invigorated for the whole season.