You graduate from school, you need money, you want to do something in your field, you teach.
Tales from the war zone: My Top Ten reasons not to teach children dance at Community Centres.
- Mental Illness. Almost every parent puts their two-year old in dance classes, so these classes are always full. However, two-year olds can only walk, run, march and gallop. They can’t skip. Also they learn from repetition. Walk, run, march, gallop, repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Disease. Children are petri dishes of all existing strains of the common cold. They can sneeze an amount of snot that matches the volume of their proportionately large heads, and you need to clean that up. You, like them, always be sick.
- Pee. Little children will pee on the floor. And other children will, despite valiant herding attempts, promptly stumble into the puddle.
- Pink Tutus. I’ve never seen a behavioural difference between girls and boys in classes. But once boys hit four, they start to realize that dance is, for some reason, for girls. I blame the tutu. The useless, inappropriate and unstoppable tutu.
- Occupational Hazards. Teaching on cement floors. (See my previous post). Play equipment, escape hatches, floors that have the dirt from the senior Chinese ballroom dancers shoes on them. (These seniors have also been known to thrust children out of the way as they push, chairs first, into the room.)
- Restraining Orders. Parents and grandparents are unreasonable. Some think you should be preparing their two-year old for the Kirov. Others scream at you when you say parent-participation doesn’t include their entire family of ten.
- Mental Illness part II. Kid’s music, see #1.
- Tantrums. Best to place screaming child at the side of the room and ignore it.
- Blood. As one parent consoled me once “kids bleed like
stuffedstuck pigs.” One kid fell on her face and split her lip so badly, that she left a trail of blood on the floor and a bloody hand print on her mother’s back as the mom ran for the bathroom, clutching the child.
- Depression. Knowing, after training your whole life as a dancer, that you are now marching, galloping and – if you’re lucky – skipping, for a living.
+ Making a difference. The trump card of dance teaching: children will love you, some parents will appreciate you and some community centres will pay you well. If you find this, it will keep you going a bit longer. Otherwise, if you are willing to go full-time, inflexible and for the long-haul, apply at a studio. Although then you can add politics to the list.
P.S. As trained dancers, we are mostly not trained to teach. I wanted to mention this, but it’s the subject of a whole other post.
Feb. 8, 2008: Thanks to Catherine for pointing out that it’s actually a stuck pig. I obviously don’t understand the metaphor. That’s a true story by the way. Also, Catherine (see her comment below), does win. She taught me to teach preschool (and beyond) and has been teaching for over ten years. And yes, the work has infinite importance, but unless its teachers are supported, none but the truly masochistic will make it a life’s work.