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Learning How to Teach Dance

By Dr. Laura Osweiler (Amara)

Published in Opa. Nov. 2012: 5.

Many teachers have content knowledge about a particular dance, but how many have pedagogical knowledge- the science of education? It is just as important to learn how to teach as to learn what to teach. In fact, the two are intertwined. Many dance studio teachers are inadvertent teachers; they've become teachers without "studying and questioning method and content", as Elizabeth Gibbons notes in Teaching Dance: The Spectrum of Styles. Most dance teachers have developed their teaching style based upon the methods their own teachers used, which can have both usable and dated material, as well as personal learning style- how the teacher herself/himself learns and processes information.

Having been students, we all have a teaching philosophy. These regularly need to be flushed out, verbalized, examined, evaluated and updated in light of new experiences and discoveries. We also need to learn about other teaching methods and keep up with current ideas of dance pedagogy. New research will inspire you to try new ideas that are capable of meeting a wider variety of students's learning styles. Although no one can cater to every type of learner all the time, a variety of teaching methods will target different students regularly. In addition, using different methods keeps everybody interested and challenged. We are not only teaching a dance, we are teaching people.

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