It's not like drama doesn't happen. There are disagreements, strong opinions that clash, all the normal things you would expect in a community filled with different kinds of people. These interactions are normal but they do not define or set the tone for what our community is.
So why is the Kizomba Seattle community different?
There is little or no back fighting or one-up'ing going on within our teaching community: we all know each other and get along. Sure, we have different opinions on things and different teaching styles and methods, but for the most part, there is very little dissension and unfriendly competition amongst us. I think this is important because it has an impact on the community itself: the community is then not divided into "camps" based on who their teacher is.
I think this is state of cooperative competition is a result of the fact that all of us who are teaching "grew up" together as we learned to dance Kizomba/Semba. We learned together: with and from each other when it was just a budding scene. We also each took our own path to learning and continue to talk to each other and collaborate. l love it. I think its awesome.
Lately tho, I've been hearing other people talk about so-and-so starting to teach and of course, the reaction and tone that I hear make it sound like their opinion is that this person isn't ready to teach. My own first reactions might be the same as I react with my judgement and personal opinion. Whatever the case, after my initial feelings are expressed, I always try to end with this: the more people there are to spread the love of the dance, the more the community will grow and that's a good thing. Sure, some will argue that so and so is not ready to teach or doesn't know enough to teach. Bottom line is there is nothing anyone can do to prevent someone else from teaching. What right do I (or anyone else) have to say "You should not teach." If people feel like they have something to offer as an instructor and would like to be paid for that time, why not?
Here's what I believe: students will find who their best teacher is. There are so many factors to finding the right teacher and when you are spending your own money to pay for an activity that you are doing as your hobby or for fun, I'm pretty sure you'll invest in it wisely in the long run. A truly good teacher will stand out and the ones that aren't qualified will eventually have to step up or lose their student base.
Rather than list reasons why someone shouldn't be teaching and/or pass judgement, I'll share my thoughts on what I think makes a good dance teacher.
- Gotta love what you do and it has to show. This is something all the teachers I respect and would always learn from have in common - they love what they do and I can feel it when they teach dance.
- They are students too. In order to teach someone how to do something, one must also be actively doing or practicing that which they are teaching. Great teachers also evolve with their students and learn from how their students learn. If you spend all your time telling someone what to do, something gets lost in your own development.
- They actively dance (or are involved in dance other than just teaching). I do think for dancing this is important. A teacher should be actively engaged in dancing whatever dance they teach not just as a teacher. Do you seem them out dancing? Performing? Engaged in the community? DJing?
- Its not just about the dance. I think great teachers take the time to learn about teaching itself, the music, the dance origins and context for the dance. I'm not saying that someone who doesn't know the history of Kizomba will be a bad teacher. I just think that its only natural to know more about what you love.
- Geek out on dance I could spend hours talking about dancing - the music, how to move, what makes a good dancer, what makes a good move, what makes a move work. What's the progression of how to teach things, what will make things easier to understand.
- Coach, Mentor, Cheerleader all in one. A truly great teacher is many things to different people. They know when to encourage, when to push, when to engage and when to let things simmer.
- Knows that its not about them. Great teachers will not make it about themselves or the other teachers. It's about the students and helping them grow and love themselves in the dance.
- Know their strengths and limitations. I think to teach you have to also know yourself pretty well. You shouldn't make things up about what you don't know and shouldn't be afraid to say when something is not your area of expertise.
- Its not Wrong I hear this a lot, "well, my teacher said it was wrong do to this". I think that this one is tricky because students can hear things out of context. A good instructor recognizes that there are different methods of executing a movement and will at least talk about what works for them and what they teach and recognize that there are other ways to teach the same material.
- Down to earth
- Respectful and Kind
- Can laugh at themselves
- Great at pacing material and recognizing how much information to give (talking time) and how much time to practice
- Doesn't malign other peers or dancers in their profession
- Celebrates students' success