DTW_world_MAINBy Steve Sirico of Dance Teacher Web

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming. – Goethe

Think about it, teachers are everything to their students. You are their coach, mentor, surrogate parent, counselor, motivational speaker, life coach and confidant. They rely on your words of encouragement and are hopefully motivated by your critiques. You have the keys in your hands to help each student you touch. You can help them grow and you can also inhibit their growth if you are not careful. The effect you will have on your students are infinite and currently unknown; you will possibly shape the way that they advance in their careers, the way they will behave as partners and spouses and the way they will raise their kids. As I am writing this I realize you may be feeling a bit like Atlas right now with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Wow… this just in, teaching is a lot of work!

With that in mind there may be times when you might be questioning yourself and the validity of what you are teaching. You may be wondering how you can get to the next level as a teacher. Questions of doubt may pop up in your mind. You may just think that you are stuck in the spot you are in year after year and you don’t see any way to progress. I do however, recommend that you think again. The great news is that you do not ever have to be in neutral and you do not need to be stuck in one place or level. When you are questioning your progress, or lack thereof that is only normal and part of the process that can get you moving forward.

See if you have asked yourself any of these questions:

  • Am I a good teacher?
  • Am I giving my students all they need?
  • How can I get more out of them?
  • Why am I not reaching that student?
  • Do my students like and respect me?
  • What can I do to give my students more?
  • How can I do a better job?

If you have asked yourself these question or others from time to time the great news is you most definitely are a good teacher!

Why? Because you care! If you didn’t care you would never question what you are doing. Great teachers are made because they work at it. They understand that what you know today will be only better once you learn how to impart that knowledge with tomorrow’s new advances. It is one of the things I enjoy most about teaching. I have never stopped learning! How boring would it be to learn something once and do that for the rest of your life. Don’t forget that you need to constantly be refreshing yourself with new ideas and techniques. It is a BIG key to helping you stay fresh mentally.

But knowledge will only take you so far. The key is that students don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care. Read that line over and over again. Remember, it is not what you know it’s what you can get your students to know that counts. That is why I chose the quote to start this article. It is about mindset. Once you get your students in the right mindset, then they will respond accordingly. As a teacher, we also must have the right mindset. It is contagious and your actions will dictate how your students receive your instruction.

A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.

Here is the reality: to be a great teacher you must continue to be a great student. I can honestly say that through the years my students have taught me a lot. The key I believe to being a great teacher is to help your students exceed their expectations. Seeing the potential in each and every student is the key to helping them achieve outstanding results. Isn’t that what teaching really is all about? A great teacher will inspire you, entertain you and you don’t even realize that you have learned a ton! Oh yes there will be times we need to be a bit tough, but not because we want to intimidate, but because we want to give them a push to help them move upwards. If your push knocks them down you are not helping them move in the right direction. Finding the right way to correct our students and how to get them to hear what we are saying is one of the most challenging parts of teaching because it will be individualized for each student.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
-Benjamin Franklin

This is another quote that I just love. It is so easy for students to fall through the cracks. You know who they are. The shy ones with little or no self-esteem. The ones who hide from your sight for fear you may notice them. Those are the ones we must reach as well. Those are the ones that will test your metal as a teacher. Those are the ones that will teach you valuable lessons on teaching! Getting all of your students involved in your classes will always be a challenge. But it will set you apart from the rest once you master this part of teaching. Let’s face it, teaching the good students is, for the most part easy, teaching the ones who struggle will be the real test. Keeping students motivated, involved and engaged will be the most important part of teaching. The key will be to keep yourself motivated, involved and engaged in teaching and your students will follow your lead!