On this week’s blog I will be delving a little bit more into the business side of bellydance. Specifically, how to build a bellydance business, teaching. Now this is just the beginning portion. There is much more to learn and it’s a good idea to get together with your mentor to help you as you go along but I wanted to put a beginner’s guide out there. Perhaps this will help you get started and help you overcome some of the stumbling blocks that the rest of us have hit along the way.
One way to start your teaching business is to ask your current teacher if you could be a substitute for one of her classes. Or perhaps start out assisting her while she is teaching. The best way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers. Each teacher is unique and you can learn something from each and every one of them. You will find out what you like, what you don’t, or perhaps something that they do while teaching that you didn’t think of before. Also by subbing, you will gain much needed practice in the art of teaching and can get feedback.
Figure out your style. Are you a follow the butt teacher? A teacher where you dance and your students follow and then you correct after repetition? A break it down to the minute detail teacher? An all technique teacher? A history of bellydance teacher? Are you going to focus on one style of bellydance or input all styles? These are all things you need to think of before you start teaching. You may think you won’t have a student that will ask you these types of questions but you will. It is always best to be prepared.
Do you want to teach in a gym. If you want to teach in a gym usually they would like for you to have a fitness certification. Not all, but some. This is another thing to look into when starting your career as a teacher. Having a certification in fitness or in another form that you can teach and offer in your classes could be a bonus. There is also a program called Sharqui that is fitness certified but it is a certified bellydance fitness class.
Create a syllabus and a plan. Every teacher goes into a class session with a syllabus. Even if it is a loose outline of what you plan on accomplishing with your class for that session, you need to have one ahead of time. You can choose to give it out to your students so they know what to expect in advance or it can be for your own personal use. Have a plan of what you want to get done. If you’re making it up as you go along, your class won’t be progressing and you will probably lose students as a result. Some instructors like to put the class rules on the syllabus as well- no gum chewing, no street shoes, no late entrants, things of that nature.
What levels do you want to teach? You will have to create a syllabus for each. Do you want to only teach classes for those who are looking to have fun for an hour? Are you looking for beginning dancers that want to grow and develop into performers? Are you going to offer them performance opportunities? These are things to at the very least consider so that you are not taken off guard. You might have a student ask you if there is a recital on the first day of class- be prepared with what you want to say.
Connect. Connect. Connect. Connect with local studios whenever you can. Connect with local community colleges and centers. Heck, even art galleries. All of these are places that may be looking to add a bellydance teacher OR that you could rent space from at a reasonable rate.
Speaking of Rate. Know yours. There are a lot of options in terms of payment for teaching. You could rent the space in which case you need to figure out what you want to charge per class and how many students you need in order to make a profit. If you are working with a studio some offer an hourly rate, others offer a split. You could also combine the two and have an hourly rate until the class size exceeds X number. Rates will vary depending on studio and your area. Whatever you agree to, make sure that you are comfortable with it and you are making a profit on it for your business.
Timing. Decide if you are going to offer sessions or ongoing classes. Sessions are nice because you know you will have X number of students for Y weeks. This also allows you to collect payment up front so you don’t have to worry if there is a week where everyone is on vacation. The choice is yours but give yourself options. The more you have to offer, your likelihood of attracting the different types of students will increase.
Don’t get discouraged. It is very easy to get discouraged if your classes aren’t immediately full or if you have drop-outs during a session. Don’t. If you continue to work on your teaching skills, the students will come. If you are frustrated, it will show and an overly down or negative environment will turn students away. Good teachers will bring good students in time.
You don’t have to teach 100 classes at once over 30 levels. As your enrollment grows then you can add more. Give yourself breaks so that you don’t get burnt out and so that you have time to take classes and workshops yourself. In conclusion, if you want to start a bellydance business teaching, start small, breathe and take your time.