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Starting out as an Assistant DanceSport Instructor
Well, you have worked through the online Community Coaching course, passed the theory and practical exams, and have racked up the appropriate amount of supervised teaching.
So now you are now an accredited Assistant DanceSport Instructor (ADI) and ready to teach.
So what’s your next step? Based on past experience, most ADIs do not teach competition couples or medallists straight away; rather, they teach beginners and social dancers. This may not have been what you were expecting? However teaching beginners is the most important job in any studio! It is also probably the quickest way to improve your coaching and communication skills.
Enabling beginners - the future of DanceSport
This is where the future of DanceSport lies. It is easy to teach someone who has danced for a while - and teach them something - whatever level you are. Probably not competition dancers, but social dancers, or Bronze and Silver medallists.
The challenge is - to teach some basic rhythm and steps - to a brand-new beginner and have them come back next week (hopefully with some friends).
Without beginners coming into our studios and staying, DanceSport really has no future. This is where future medallists and competition dancers start. And it is the responsibility of Instructors to ensure that there is a future for DanceSport!
How do I teach?
When you actually start to teach beginners, you will probably teach in a group situation. This is very different from teaching a single or a couple. How do you learn to teach a group? There are no classes to teach this, are there? Actually, there are! The best way to learn to teach a group class is to assist an experienced teacher. You may receive no pay, but the experience is invaluable.
Most of my early teaching experience was gained in beginner classes, assisting experienced coaches. In this environment you learn what works and what doesn’t. You learn how to handle slower learners, as well as those who breeze through everything – and both deserve the same amount of attention.
Developing your skills
As an assistant in group classes you look after the slower learners and first-timers. This is a great opportunity to develop skills in teaching one-on-one and with couples. The more you tackle these challenging situations the easier it will be when you are teaching on your own.
Best way to learn
Believe it or not, teaching beginners will also improve your own dancing. Often the best way to learn anything is to teach it! Explaining to a beginner how to stand, move and lead reinforces our knowledge.
It is also great to be reconnected with the fundamental reason why most people dance: to have fun! It is, therefore, vital that their first introduction to ballroom dancing is not loaded with heaps of technical jargon and "do's and don'ts". DanceSport can come later!
Teaching beginners can be great fun and very rewarding. When your students turn up next week, greet you with a big grin and thank you, you will feel great. Remember this is a whole new experience for your students and you are the fundamental connection between them and ballroom dancing.
You can make a difference
Your attitude, approach and friendliness will determine how beginners enjoy the experience and whether they will continue. When you later witness these students dancing their first bronze medal or competition, or even just enjoying the weekly social, you will know you played a major role in this.
You are not restricted to helping out in beginner classes. Assisting in the more advanced classes (technique or medal classes), will help your knowledge and style, especially if you are working with various teachers.
Expanding your circle of influence
What goes around comes around; if you are willing to help others by assisting them, you will find willing assistants when you are running group classes. And it is from these classes that your first private lessons will come, because they respect and enjoy the way you teach. The future of ballroom dancing and DanceSport relies on you!
by Martyn Kibel