Last week, a student came up to me in the middle of warm up, on the first day of class, and said, "Miss Ricki, I will never get sick of seeing your smile." I have already posted this on Facebook, got like 45 likes and pretty much feel like a rock star.
I am bringing it up again, not because I am bragging about feeling Facebook famous, but because I was reminded that you never truly know how much you really are affecting your student's lives.
This student was in my class last year, but this summer she only saw me about two times in class. I'm sure she did a million other fun things, had a blast with the other teachers, and gained a ton of knowledge, but something about the way I smile at her or the way it makes her feel has stuck with her.
Another student has come up to me two weeks in a row now saying, "I want to be a teacher when I'm older. Just like you."
As a dance teacher, it is crazy to think of who or what you might be inspiring. You could be inspiring someone to become a dance teacher, a famous choreographer, a break dancer, an amazing freestyle dancer, or a company dancer. Any of your students could become a Broadway dancer, dance on a music video, or end up dancing on tour with the next big hit music artist. You could even be inspiring a great school teacher, a writer, a poet! Any of these (plus endless more possibilities) could come from you passing on your passion for the art of dancing to another person.
These sweet little moments have reminded me how extremely important it is to work with, and nurture these beginning little dancers. They look up to you, and aspire to be just like you. It is so important to make each and every one of them feel important. Feel appreciated. Feel successful.
Correct them. Guide them. Give them a strong foundation. Yell, "Point your toes!", till you're blue in the face. But compliment them. Encourage them. Let them explore who they are as a dancer. Make them feel special.
My dancers have taught me so much about myself as a teacher, and I still have so much to learn from them. I will constantly feel challenged on how to provide the strongest possible foundation, have fun, and make each and every student absolutely fall in love with dance. It is a challenge I am thrilled to take on, though, year after year after year!
I believe in the importance of fundamentals. I believe in quality over quantity. I believe that the strength we implement in these beginning dancers is the most important way to insure strong advanced dancers down the road. Mostly, though, I believe that a smile really does go a long way =)