Sitting in the Teachers' VIP room each day I got to hear a number of great panel discussions on various topics from Acro in dance studios, the importance of culture within our studios, how to best prepare your students for a successful career in dance, and much more.
Here are some random thoughts and notes I jotted down throughout the weekend...
>> There are apparently 30,000 dance studios in Australia alone!!!? That's a lot more than I realised. This thing we do is BIG. I thought this was really interesting. >> Instant gratification. We live in the era of instant gratification. With social media providing an instant audience, Netflix providing instant entertainment, UberEats providing instant food, and Tindr proving instant companionship... the culture of NOW is now. And it's interesting to observe how that changes our students. Teachers who have been teaching for a few decades now are really seeing a giant shift in this new generation with regard to social behaviour, habits, mindset, self-esteem (or lack there of) and focus. Students are more sensitive, more stressed and less patient. If they've just started they want to be amazing yesterday. Young kids wanting to master tricks before they've learned the foundations that make the execution of the movement technically correct or even safe. Losing interest earlier than ever before. Putting unrealistic expectations on themselves.
A quote I heard today was "The hard work MAKES it valuable." This resonated with me. The effort increases the reward of the achievement. When you work for something it makes it more special, and the longer and harder you work, the more amazing it feels when you've finally reached that goal you've been striving for. THAT is also what builds self-esteem, achievement through significant and consistent effort. >> Are we giving our teachers the tools to: Talk to parentsKnow HOW to help students learn HOW to take criticism and apply correctionsManage a classroom >> In a lot of studios there seems to be a disconnect between the studio owners and their teachers, with little to no communication and not enough consistent team management and mentoring >> We have a strange industrywide assumption that dancers want to teach. We've all heard the words "A great dancer doesn't necessarily make a great teacher", but even more profoundly - "a dancer isn't a teacher". It's a strange industry where it's implied that a professional dancer will teach between their contracts and gigs. When you think about that, it's such a strange concept. Mechanics aren't all spending their days teaching people how to become mechanics whilst waiting for more mechanic work to come along. >> We need to teach our students that there is no one definitive "successful professional dance career" so that they can have the mindset of seeing any journey of dance in the professional landscape as being a success, not a failure. Being a "successful dancer" can mean so many different things. Psychological flexibility makes it possible to have a plan A and... not a plan B but another plan A. Multiple plan A's. >> Studio culture: We need to know (and every single one of our staff need to know) from the second the customer walks in, HOW we want the customer to feel. >> The procrastination of happiness or rest. When is your down time? There’s always something else coming! "Oh things will calm down a bit after exams... oh wait! It's concert time... that's ok things will be easier after concert... oh wait! I need to focus on enrolments and renovating the studio... things will be better once the year starts and everyone is settled... oh wait! We have a fundraiser next weekend and then Easter show. So what's the solution? Disciplined restraint. >> Your WHY… why are you doing this in the first place? It's a very Simon Sinek topic, and I love it. Staying true to your WHY, and using that to help identify and create your studio culture. >> "Don’t pursue what is instant, pursue what is meaningful."