Tap Teacher Questions Answered

Published on October 8th 2020 by Hillary-Marie

How do you establish a rapport with a student that you’ve never met in person, especially when they show up a couple minutes late to a virtual class and I have already started working with the kids in studio? We are offering in person or virtual options to all our students. ~ Beth T.

Awesome question. I did a Parent Q&A on Zoom a few weeks back for new families at my studio, Grooves Unlimited in Livingston, NJ, and I had a parent ask me this. They said, “my child is new, this is their first year dancing with you, how are you going to make sure that she’s engaged and feels a part of the class?” 

Quite the coincidence because I just came off a Team Retreat with my Team where we brainstormed in depth about the importance of building a sense of community with Zoomers who are participating in our Hybrid Dance Program. 

First thing’s first, I would get them to show up on time and explain to the parent how important that time at the start of class is. This is when you take attendance and ask the kids a question, like “when I call your name, I want you to share with us your favorite subject in school… or one weird fact about yourself…” whatever that conversation starter is.   and it’s proven to be awesome and very helpful in making that connection. But overall, I recommend a lot of engaging questions, and giving dancers the chance to unmute and answer the question, or a one-at-a-time demonstration. 

In my Hybrid class today, we did a warm-up and then I had everyone go one at a time to share which part of the warm-up was most challenging to them, and the Zoomers unmuted and shared too. Everyone had a chance to connect and share. 

How to not get exhausted teaching over zoom, I found each class took more energy than an in person class ~ Rone A.

This is real! Zoom tap classes are a whole different energy. You have to be “on” at all times, where in the studio, you can take small breaks here and there when you go to change your music, or give your students a couple minutes to practice and work it out on their own. Zoom classes definitely take more energy than an in-person class. 

I found that when I accepted the reality of that, that it became less exhausting… which sounds a bit silly. Acknowledge that it’s different, and that it takes more effort, and prepare accordingly. Make sure you’re in the right headspace to kick off your Zoom class. 

I teach 3 weekly tap classes on Zoom for iTapOnline Members, and I’m loving it. It physically and mentally takes more effort and energy than an in-studio class, but I’m enjoying the challenge. And I set it up so I’m not spending too much time on the computer before or after those classes. And I make sure I’ve eaten a good meal before those classes, and that I’ve got my water on hand, and that my tech set-up is ready to go well before class starts so I can enjoy the experience. 

One thing that worked great for the kids classes back in the Spring, we used breakout rooms in Zoom. And the kids would review their choreo together and practice together, and that was great, because they were still 100% engaged in class, but they weren’t engaged directly with their teacher, they were engaged with each other. Turning on the break-out rooms feature on Zoom could help give you the breather you’re looking for. 

Has anyone tried Google Meet instead of Zoom? If so what did you think?

All of these platforms are very similar, and whatever issues you have with one, you’re going to have with another, or maybe you’ll solve one problem but trade it for another. I’ve looked into and considered other platforms, but at the end of the day, everyone knows how to Zoom right now, so it’s best to stick with what people know rather than teaching them how to use a new platform. 

When I kicked off the iTap Teacher Training Program over a year ago, we were using Zoom, and it was hard for everyone to get adjusted to in the beginning. Every graduating class, those first couple weeks were tricky, teaching everyone how to use and get comfortable with Zoom. And look at everyone now! They’re totally good to go with it. My mom even knows how to use Zoom. It’s best to stick with the tech platform that everyone’s most comfortable with. 

Tips for finding teaching jobs? I’ve cold emailed a few studios but is there a better way to go about it? ~ James D.

We ignore every single one of those emails that gets sent to my studio. Some studios may rely on those to find teachers, but I don't think that's the best way to find the best teacher for your dance program. Most studio owners delete them from their inbox.

Every day, I have dance studios messaging and emailing me that they're looking for tap teachers. The jobs are out there, but you don't find them the same way that you find day jobs. Most teaching gigs are found by word of mouth, facebook groups or postings on sites like Indeed, Dance Teacher Finder, etc.

But facebook groups are probably my top recommendation. Search dance teacher, dance studio, search your state name, search U.S.A., you'll find that dance studio owners and teachers are living in those specific facebook groups and that's where studio owners post jobs, and it's also where teachers say "hey! I'm over here if you need me!"

Subbing is also a great way to move into a teaching position. Let the fellow teachers in your life know that you're looking to teach now and that you're available to sub. They'll have you in mind as a recommendation next time someone asks them if they know anyone available to teach on Wednesday nights.

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