In Search of Excellence – as a Teacher

Who are we?

apple⇨ A Teacher
⇨ A Coach
⇨ A Guest Teacher
⇨ A Lecturer/Speaker
⇨ A Judge
⇨ An Examiner
⇨ An Explorer
⇨ A Choreographer
⇨ A specialist
⇨ The Master

Many of us consider ourselves capable of all of the above, but we find ourselves in a different role or a combination of roles on a daily basis.  It may helps to identify ourselves in order to figure out where continued educational studies may needed in order to better understand your students expectations and to keep growing and developing our own product.

A teacher: A teacher instructs in a controlled setting. Teaching is measured by individual success the focus on competition is less prominent. Less personal connection more based on facts.

A Coach: A coach trains the mind and the body of a student through motivation. Coaching is measured by wins/losses, a strong emphasis on competition. Strong personal bonds.

A Guest teacher: More about evaluating the skills and giving a quick solution, difficult to cover in depth subjects that require time, repetition and follow up sessions (i.e a specialist).

A Lecturer/speaker: Delivering an opinion on a specific subject. Here the material and the presentation of the material are the key elements. Not an easy combination and does take years of experience to perfect. The subject matter also plays a role as this depends highly on the expertise of the lecturer on the particular subject.

An Examiner: Having knowledge of all written material on Ballroom Dancing used for certification of professional dancers. Great examiners can help top students better understand the originality of steps, mechanical principals and at the highest of levels help develop new concepts based on existing systems.

A Choreographer: Possessing extraordinary skills in creating amalgamations that are originating from the core of the dance, acceptable to the present, yet groundbreaking enough to become integrated into the future bag of known and commonly used/required step patterns

A specialist: To consider yourself a specialist of one or two particular elements pertained to Ballroom Dancing and to focus your teaching skills in this direction mainly.

The master: associated with words such as; genius, leader, mentor, expert. In the dance industry people of this status will have had to stood the test of time in terms of knowledge, own dance abilities, will have contributed to the development of the industry as a whole through their product, expertise and forward thinking

Useful questions to ask oneself:

With years of experience, what have I learned? What may be in need of an upgrade? Do I truly produce what I teach?

Evaluate your ability to develop as an educator. Do you teach habitually or do you push yourself to improve your own skills in the way you deliver your material? Also consider who you teach. There is a huge difference between teaching top dancers on a daily basis and to teach dancers at lower level.

What makes you feel accomplished, and how do you measure this accomplishment?

By asking yourself these questions and by answering truthfully you will make changes for the better and improve your own product

 

Psychological Level
psychological

Emotional needs, wants and desires drive human behavior

It is vital to be aware of how a teacher can make or break a person’s confidence and therefore that person’s ability to become a better dancer. It is scientifically proven that no human moves by intellectual needs

 

Different Teaching Methods

methodes of teaching

  • Command Style:
    Based on the idea that the teacher has all knowledge and the learner has little. It’s quick and to the point as it’s based on existing knowledge. The disadvantage is that no new knowledge or discoveries takes place.
  • Discovery Style with known outcome: 
    The teacher has the answer but guides the learner towards it by asking questions. The learner feels value because he discovered it himself and the teacher learns more about the learner. Still no new knowledge is gathered as the teacher still has the answer. Similar to raiser a child teach the student to become independent self sufficient build confidence.Takes a lesser ego as this is how can I teach my student to leave me!!!
  • Discovery Style with unknown outcome:
    Teacher and learner discover together. Deals with autonomy as the learner is taught to grow independent of the teacher. New discoveries and knowledge can be gathered.
  • Self Check: 
    The teacher asks for feedback and by that the learner grows. How does it feel? How would you improve this step? Based on the idea that no one experiences things the same way. The teacher learns about the learner.
  • Other valued points to be aware off: 
    Argument: teaching is not about right or wrong, it is about stimulating inspiring creating, it is an interpretation to think it is okay to give the students a moment to practice, the teacher stays quiet reciprocal feed back, learn to communicate as well as dance. Checking in with the student if you feel they are getting anxious, they are paying a lot are you given them their money’s worth. Guide them to a solution, “solution focus method” (curious not furious approach to finding the solution).

The magic is in the mix of methods

 

Delivery Method

isee

⇨Visually  (the teacher shows, the students does)
⇨Kinesthetic (Kinesthetic learning, “the doer”)
⇨Touch (by Sculpturing)
⇨Imagery
⇨Explanation
⇨Energy

 

Conclusion: the process must go towards a “felt sense” an “I get it, I see”

Personality Types

psychologyStudents have different ways to perceive information. It is crucial for teachers and coaches to accept those differences in order to help dancers develop. Analyze how to create winners/dance champions according to various personality types, some examples that may apply to dancers:

  • The Perfectionist: loves to improve and get better, sets rules as to how things should be, winning is not everything but getting better is. powerful inner critic that monitors every thought, (worry about getting things right and are unusually sensitive to criticism, repress their impulses/desires for pleasure)
  • The Helpful Person/ The Giver: loves to dance and support other, focuses on being there for their partner and teacher. (a hard time expressing their own needs; can be manipulative, alter their self-presentation to meet the needs of others)
  • The Effective Person/The performer: Nickname “The winner”, has an internal need to be better than others (pressure to perform; and there is an inattention to feelings/”Not now”)
  • The Romantic: needs to express the feelings that are inside, they feel they are unique and special, loves to express that uniqueness.(constant longing for the missing ingredient for personal happiness, deeply felt abandonment that translates into a belief that “I am un- loveable.
  • The Observer: Likes facts and loves logic can come up with formulas that work better than previous ones, need for privacy (detach from feelings and observe rather than participate.
  • The Loyal (skeptic) Person: will excel in performance when the need for safety and loyalty is met. They greet everything with a doubting mind, and contrary thinking. (failing to complete projects, procrastinate)
  • The Optimist: needs positivity and constant stimulation, loves new experiences, cannot bear repetitiveness (have difficulty with commitment)
  • The Powerful Person: Nickname “the boss”, likes to be in control and can be quite overpowering. Works hard, is prepared and do not like to be weak. (They are aggressive, intimidating and impulsive; but deny their own vulnerability and weakness)
  • The Peaceful Person:  Likes life to be in harmony, can find harmony and beauty in art. They see all sides to every issue as peacemakers and harmonizers; They avoid conflict and want the comfortable solution. (They are ambivalent about their own needs and wants)

 

Multiple Intelligences

Besides being mindful as to how to push the buttons of your students also understand how they best take in information. Educationalists believe there are multiple intelligences. In dancing we tend to use one, two or more of the following to accelerate our learning:

  • Linguistic: Ability to absorb information with an ease of understanding and put it into practice immediately
  • Kinesthetic-Bodily: To learn by feel
  • Spatial Intelligence: Ability to improve by what you see and ability to learn by watching dancers better than oneself.
  • Musically intelligent: means being tuned into the music, one of most Important factors of dance.

 

 

Dance Teachers study the body and the movement of the body in relation to music and internal co-ordination. We work within the boundaries of written formulas and principals understood as Ballroom Dancing/Partner-Dancing.

These fundamental principles and techniques are analysis of what extraordinary gifted dancers did and expressed to certain styles of music and within a partner-dancing concept.

We have a required foundation by which we all operate and yet when it comes to the couples’ and the individual dancer’s artistic and stylistic choices, the mechanical details and options are endless and a constant inspiration for development of our dance form.

In order to help the dancer understand his or her body and the requirements necessary to reach a top level, having a good eye, for what may look similar in shape and action to that of top dancers, may not suffice. One must know what to look for and be able to detect how this is achieved by breaking down the elements of the body involved both on a muscular, skeleton?? and kinesthetic-bodily level.

Our “Body Physics – Spinal Engine” lecture is one possibility for some of us to improve and deepen our understanding of how the human body works.

At this moment in time certain mechanics have sustained/survived the test of time and are characteristic of the dance. These will only alter fractionally according to tempi changes. To become an excellent ballroom dance teacher purely by studying and learning techniques on a theoretical level will not be enough in today’s dancing. Today’s competitors are capable of extremities when it comes to details within movement, both on an internal level, also on a physical level as well as understanding the dynamics of the movement.

In theory a great teacher should be able to build up a student from the ground up. The foundation is created by knowing the basic steps, the timings of such, action used within the steps and amalgamations in relation to the music being played in relation to the concept of Partner-Dancing. The background of how and why these patterns were created is equally important as this is building on existing systems.

In open choreography we have no written restrictions as to what can be created step and action wise so long as the feet stay on the ground and it is relevant to the character and the music. Yet the base from which today’s competitive products develop is and always will stem from the same core, the original form is visual in all great champion couples but the details are explored to such a depth that only teachers that follow along and continuously work with either top dancers, the own bodies and that are interested in these developments will be able to contribute to the evolution of Ballroom Dancing.

Here the lecturer can demonstrate certain aspects that he or she finds vital for developing the physical understanding of the students’ own body.

Over time it has been discussed whether the best teachers are only those that have dedicated their life to dance and done so by experiencing dance on a high competitive level. For sure to be able to create champions without having danced competitively yourself would be an almost impossible task. There are many aspects in which a teacher can improve their understanding though of how the body works internally and as such by seeing, feeling, hearing and observing great dancers at an intense and close level over time become great teachers. However I would say that without a high level of musical intelligence that this would not be possible. Great example: Miss June McMurdock.

 

 

Stimulate And Promote Excellence In Education

excellenceThe WDC Education Department were formed to stimulate and promote excellence in education for the World Dance Council and Amateur League.

The background for presenting The Congress Tour is to help maintain an interest in sustaining, developing and growing our beautiful dance form. We feel a deep passion towards the art of Ballroom dancing. As with any art form we must keep the flame burning for future generations. Without development most products have an expiration date. The responsibilities lie primarily with teachers and educators, yet decisions will inevitably be determined by future champions, as these gather knowledge and data along their dance journeys.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you keep developing your own skills and how?

Watching, taking lesson, classes, discussions, present at major championships, teaching high level competitors and therefore part of the   development of dance etc.

  1. Are you up to date with the trends and the developments?

How do you do gather your data, online and/or in person. Example the past decade in Latin American dancing the Energy/Dynamic Changes in combination with speed and extremities have been in the foreground.

What dance skill would I need to study to gain more understanding of such elements if my educational did not entails a deeper understanding of such tools?

Today the trend has gone in another direction but certain elements have stayed.

Develop the know-how so you do not find yourself being viewed as stuck in time, old fashioned or narrow-minded.

  1. What can we do to help you on your endeavor to be more educated?

 

The “je ne sais quoi” of Great Teachers – INSPIRE

inspire

This is the “je ne sais quoi of GREAT TEACHERS.

The ability to inspire the mind of your students to create great dancing using fundamental tools, tested and developed over the years is in essence what we strive towards on a daily basis in our search of becoming excellent teachers of Ballroom Dancing.

There is a famous quote (origin unknown) we could easily adopt :

Be a reflection of what you’d like to see in others!

If you want love, give love, if you want honesty, give honesty, if you want respect, give respect. You get in return, what you give!

If you want knowledgeable and capable dancers ….  give all the knowledge you have (In essence the teacher’s job is complete when they have made the student independent, self sufficient in other words prepared their student to leave them, just like raising children.)

 

How To Build Confidence In Your Own Teaching Skills

build confidenceOur own ability to deliver the message precisely and direct to the point:

The more we know about the topic both from a dancer’s perspective and that of a teacher, we can slowly start to narrow down and prioritize, teaching is about layering and simplifying.

If a teacher struggles with getting the message across find different  ways explore how best to make the student understand by knowing your student’s preferred learning method and understand their psyche though keeping the goal in clear sight. Utilizing your own dance experiences and develop several methods and ways to achieve the same goal. If you do not have the know-how, be proactive in your fact finding.

We are influenced by how the students appear to perceive the information.

If the teacher is a former world champion him/herself the students are seeming more inclined to accept the information without hesitation as they tend to seek advice and knowledge from the teacher based on that teacher’s own dance skills. However with that being said many teachers end up teaching students of high caliber at times ranked higher than themselves when it comes to competition results and still manages to produce great results.

These renowned teachers have indeed achieved recognition by producing Champions. The traits of such teachers/coaches are based on their willingness and open mindedness, when it comes to seeing their teaching methods and tools used evolving as they themselves learn.

In other words: they do not see changing beliefs as a sign of weakness but as a sign of improvement of their skills according to evolution.

It is important to differentiate between educational skills, personal taste/style and current trends.

Great teachers are able to combine educational material with personal taste and still give the dancers freedom to explore their own style.

How?

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Avatar for Vibeke Toft

Head of the WDC Education Department. European and World Amateur Champion. The United Kingdom and International Open Amateur Champion. US Open Professional Champion. Finalist in all Major Professional Championships including Worlds, British, International, United Kingdom. European Professional Silver Medalist in 1995 and 1997.

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