I had an interesting idea presented to me last night: teaching.
I used to teach. I taught college students. My favorite teaching moments were when I had a small discussion group to work with, or a single student who came into office hours for help. I love working closely with just a few students. I love being able to take those students who really want to be there and guide them along. Show them how to find the answers for themselves. Direct their attention and help them make the connections; see the light bulbs go on above their heads.
I tried teaching dance, once. When I was in high school, I assisted in little kids’ dance classes: ballet, jazz, tap. I hated it. With little kids, you have to feed them constantly. Give give give them things to grab their attention. Give them things to do. Entertain them. To some extent you have to do this with any student – ever tried to teach a room full of tired, bored college students? But with older students you can demand more, expect more, play a little bit more with them.
I don’t know if I would really want to be a tango teacher. I have been told that I have the dance skills, so it would mostly be a matter of continuing to advance those skills while making sure I understand why things work and how to communicate that to students. I certainly have spent a good amount of time paying attention to how other teachers teach. I know what I think works, what methods I respect, how I would approach teaching certain ideas. But I don’t know that I want to enter the world of teacher politics. I’m not sure I would have fun at milongas as a teacher. I don’t know how much respect I could command as a relative newbie to tango – it could be years before people want to listen to me. And I would hate to jump into it before I’m actually a good and effective teacher. Also, my community is not at a loss for teachers; I don’t think there is demand for more.
On the other hand, I know I have things to offer. I come with a lifetime of dance technique. I have body-knowledge built up from years of different dance styles. I know how I would structure a class, moving from warm-up to little exercises to more complicated exercises that all build on one another. Using a Socratic method, trying to get the students to connect the dots. Do more experimenting, more trial-and-error than just talking about it. Oh yes, I know what I like in a class, and I have the teaching experience to create a class that I like.
And hey, if I have a good teacher asking me to sub for him once, I might as well give it a try and see how I like it, no?