How to Quit a Tap Dance Teaching Gig

Published on December 12th 2019 by Hillary-Marie

Today we’re talking about the realities of quitting a teaching gig. I’ve quit plenty of teaching gigs over the years for many of the reasons that I’m going to share with you. But the way you go about bowing out of a teaching gig is SUPER important and I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on that. And then, for fun, I’ll share with you the ONE exception that I had for quitting a teaching gig, where I broke all of the rules and threw all my own recommendations out the window. Because, well, we’ve all got one of those stories, right?

Three reasons to quit a teaching gig:
1. Availability
a. You’re moving out of town
b. You’ve got another opportunity that’s going to take up your time
c. You’re not able to give them the level of commitment they seek ie: showing up on a weekly basis
d. The commute is too much
2. The Business of Show Business
a. Miscommunication: you thought the gig was something else, ie: more hours
b. Pay problems: the dollars aren’t straight, ie: you’re getting paid late or you were promised a raise that never came
3. Artistic Differences
a. You’re not interested in providing them with what they want or unable to provide them with what they want, ie: you’re not a babies teacher
b. Difference in culture: maybe you’re a really strict teacher and the studio is more about sunshine and rainbows
c. They’re not treating you with respect
d. Not satisfied: you want to work with higher-level dancers, or you want longer classes, and they’re pushing you towards 30-minute classes with 7-year-olds
d. You’ve given them everything you’ve got and it’s time for you to step away and offer that artistry to someone else

Tips for Quitting a Teaching Gig
Stick it out til the end of the season if you can - remember, it’s about the students. We teach for the students, and it really messes with the quality of their education to lose their teacher mid-season.
If you can’t stick it out until the end of the season, provide a replacement.
If possible, provide a replacement at all times. Even if you stick it out until the end of the season. Do your studio a solid and provide a replacement teacher.
Give advance notice! I’m talking months, months in advance. One of our teachers at Grooves left us last season because he wanted to go into a full-time tech program, learning more about coding, he told us in March, and the season ended in June, he stayed with us until the end of the season and the next season started in September. We had 6 full months to find a new teacher. We were thankful for that. It showed his compassion and respect for our program, and as a result, we would have him back any day. Our door is always open to him.

Commitment is Real
Commitment means something and when you agree to be a part of a dancer’s seasonal training, you should be there to carry them through the season. Of course, great opportunities present themselves and sometimes you’ve got to bow out and take that opportunity. But if you’re constantly auditioning for cruise ship gigs, you shouldn’t be the type of person who’s saying yes to weekly teaching gigs.

Check out episode 053 “What Type of Tap Classes Should You Be Teaching?”, what type of tap classes should you be teaching, where I dive deeper into that, finding the best type of teaching gig for you, your personality type, and your calendar.

Also, remember that reputation is real. This is a super small community and if you’re a flaky teacher, people are going to hear about it.

The Exception to the Rule
Now… there’s always an exception to a rule, and I promised at the beginning of the episode that I’d share with you one of the times that I quit a teaching gig in the middle of the season. You can catch this story by listening to the podcast episode.

Final Thoughts
- Do what you can to make sure that you don’t end up in this position in the first place.
- Make sure you have a contract, that’s clear.
- Do your research before taking the gig and make sure that your goals align with the goals of the studio.
- Don’t make commitments that you can’t uphold.
- As a teacher, make sure you take the time to interview the studio (in the same way that they interview you). Whenever we’re looking to hire a new teacher at Grooves Unlimited, that interview is a 2-way street. I ask them what their goals and principles are and then I tell them about ours, and we have a chance to see if they’re aligned. I always ask at the end, do you have any questions for us? And I love, LOVE, when a teacher takes that opportunity to dive deeper, asking what are thoughts are on discipline in the studio, what type of etiquette we expect from our students, if there are opportunities for growth and if so, what does that look like, if we have confirmed registration for the classes that are being offered to them, etc.

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