You already know that teaching AcroDance, or any genre of dance, requires much more than just talking students through exercises: Spotting, demonstrating, correcting, answering questions, and selecting music; plus dealing with things like bathroom breaks, missing hair elastics, and Band-Aids – the list goes on.
That’s why Assistant Teachers are so wonderful to have – THEY can take care of the details so that YOU can focus on the bigger picture!
Before getting started, it’s important to select the right person for the job, set up a system of compensation, and create clear expectations.
When choosing an assistant, ensure that they are mature enough to handle a leadership role and put the needs of the students first. Keep in mind that your most beautiful dancers are not necessarily going to be the best assistants. A student who isn’t a “star-dancer,” but has a great work ethic, can be a really wonderful assistant, and giving them an opportunity to assist will show them they are valued at your studio.
How should you compensate your assistants for their time and effort? If adding them to your payroll isn’t an option, think about “paying” them in studio credits (which go towards their own classes), offering them free private lessons; or covering their tuition for a Certification Course. This last option is great, because it means you will have another educated teacher at your studio: perfect if you need a substitute, or someone to take over beginner acro classes down the road.
Once you’ve established who your assistants will be and how you’ll compensate them, it’s time to solidify their role. As a general rule of thumb, I encourage YOU to always lead your own classes, and let your assistant deal with the “extras”: taking attendance, adjusting music, counting students in for across the floor work, setting up mats, finding a Band-Aid or hair elastic, etc. You can also use them to demonstrate your warm-ups, and any new tricks you’re introducing.
An added bonus to having an Assistant Teacher is that you have an extra spotter! This means you can have two spotting stations in your circuits, centre work, or across the floor exercises.
Remember that assistants are just beginning their teaching journey; you may have to remind them to watch their posture, use a strong “teaching voice”, and remain engaged. Be patient but persistent with them, because having a quality Assistant Teacher will make YOUR job easier, give THEM valuable experience, and allow your STUDENTS to thrive!