For Teachers

You cannot pour from an empty cup - Tips for avoiding teacher burn-out.

8:08 AM

Most people have a hard time making a living from just teaching dance... we do it because we love it.  But what happens when you're sick, tired, injured, or burned out? Here are the things I do to make sure I can keep teaching from the best place.

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1. Don't stop dancing.

stretching before class

You love dance, that's why you teach it. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself excited and in love with dance, you need to do it regularly. I have started getting into the studio 30 minutes early to give myself a short barre, stretch, or work through choreography ideas. I fell in love with dancing and spent many hours pouring into it and learning about it.... and then suddenly stopped, and started to focus on my students. When I only focus on teaching, I start to get frustrated. I have to dance for me.

>>>>>You might like: Healthy snacks for on-the-go dancers only $5/month!

If you can't dance, you can still enjoy ballet! Hop on YouTube and watch a Master Class with a professional company (I have a whole playlist of them here). Attend a live performance. Watch some Prix de Lausanne pieces (those always get me inspired).

2. Remember your "why."

Photo credit: grongar on / CC BY

Why do you teach dance?  Give yourself an answer and then keep going with it. Keep asking why. Keep digging until you hit something that makes sense to you, and then put all your pieces together. Maybe that's your mission statement or your vision. Put it on your wall or memorize it. Or choreograph it if you want. But hang onto it like your own personal doctrine to keep you centered.

>>>>> You might like: These vitamins are 10X more effective than grocery store brands!


  • Why do I teach dance? because I like working with kids.
  • Why? I think they are smart and full of potential, and I want to be part of teaching them valuable lessons.
  • Why? Because the kids I have this year will be forever changed, and their lessons will affect the future.

(you could keep going with this)

completed statement: I teach dance to help change children's lives with valuable life lessons so they can go on to change the world.

3. Find your student's "why"

Photo credit: yaxchibonam on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Even if you're burned out personally, sometimes knowing that someone else has a goal can help re-motivate you. Find out what your students want out of dance. Do they like exercise? the music? the stories? Are they focused on performance opportunities, or do they love technique class? Are they competitive minded, or focused on becoming a professional ballet dancer? Spend some time (if you haven't already) identifying what your students want, both long-term and short-term, and cater to that.

>>>>>You might like: ballet notebook for students

4. Try something different.

Photo credit: gabrielsaldana on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Different could mean anything - different music, different combos, a different order of things, etc. Maybe have some students choreograph an adagio, or take turns coming up with tendu exercises. Do a floor/center barre instead of a regular barre. Or do a contemporary warm-up instead of a traditional one.

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5. Don't be afraid to take a break.

Photo credit: s7ran9er on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
If you've gotten to the point where you are so burned out that you feel you cannot do your job well, take some time off. Maybe you need a long weekend to get away and do something unrelated or out of the ordinary. Maybe you just need a sick day. Maybe you need to leave town for a week. Talk to your director and put something no the schedule for you to have some downtime to refresh yourself from the inside-out.

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