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Teachers and qualifications?


tomuchtallent
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Do ballet teachers and other styles of dance have to have teaching qualifications to teach?

I know lots of dance teachers who dont have teaching qualifications but are excellent teachers and some that have trained at the best schools around the world who are not that good,and also some that are qualified that are ok.I do believe that you have to have a tallent to teach and not everyone can do it well even if they have been to the best schools or qualified.How can you really tell?

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Well I think those who have "qualified" will at least know syllabus requirements in their board. Does it make them good? Not necessarily but I think it does show a commitment to what they are doing. If my child was doing a particular board I would want the teacher trained in that method. But I think we've all experienced teachers who are excellent and untrained. In our case that was a young teacher. But now she is fully qualified and running her own school.

 

My requirements were a passion for their genre, an ability to interact and deal with the children, classes that were enjoyed but also the necessary strictness when demanded.

 

A good teacher provides the right enviroment for all pupils not just the very good. In fact I would almost say the essence of a teacher's ability can be seen in how they deal with the child who isn't a "natural", but who wants to dance. The teachers who have most impressed are the ones who took time with those who were never going to be "the star" or fly through exams. Equally that good teacher will not accept mediocre from the very talented just because they shine but will get them to achieve their potential.

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No it's not a legal requirement to be qualified or even to have CRB clearance. The only way to really know if a teacher is good is to watch them teach and also look at what their former students have gone on to do (work professionally or get into vocational school etc). Students exam results if they are published are also a guide but you can't put too much faith in them as some teachers may spend years preparing all the children and get mostly distinctions but they might be 3 or 4 years older than another school who entered children at the same level and didn't get as many distinctions, also the examining boards assess at slightly different levels.

 

Generally though if you choose a qualified teacher (in the UK at least) you stand a better chance of having good training. They will have had to train and pass teaching exams so they do know what they're doing. Also generally those who have completed qualifications (again in the UK) are perhaps those that are prepared to put the work in to be a good teacher and are more conscientious about what they do. I know it very different in some other countries, in the US it's very common not to be qualified.

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There must be good reason to get teaching qualifications because you hear about lots of retiring ballet dancers taking their teaching qualifications and then teaching. There is a big difference between actually doing something and being able to break things down in order to teach someone else.

 

When I was looking for a new dance school 6 years ago, the first place I looked was the RAD website to find a registered teacher. It was important to me that I was entrusting my child to someone with a visible qualification, even for what was then an hour a week. It just gives you a baseline to go on.

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To enter students for exams with the ISTD or RAD a teacher has to be qualified and registered with the society. If you look at their websites it will give you an idea of what is involved in their teaching exams and information about the qualification. The ISTD also recommends that all their teachers are CRB checked and they offer an insurance scheme for their teachers too. Teachers trained in these methods will have had good training themselves to reach this level and the exams are not just dancing and learning about the syllabus, teachers are examined in health and safety in dance and lifespan in relatIon to dance. However I think there are some excellent teachers who have worked in the industry ex ballet company, west end company etc that do not have any dance teaching qualifications but are passing on their knowledge and experience to their students which for the aspiring dancer is invaluable.

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I think teaching is part natural gift, part learned skill. As Spanner said,being able to do something, even very expertly, doesn't necessarily mean you have the skills to teach it. Some of the very worst teachers I have ever had were tutors at university - even though they were world reknowned in their field they had no ability to share their expertise with their students.

I'm sure there are people who are natural and wonderful teachers without having teacher training and there are probably qualified teachers who aren't very good too, but as a general rule, I would advise someone who was new to ballet and looking for a teacher (in this country)for their child to opt for a teacher who is qualified with one of the main recognised organisations. When my DD started I knew nothing at all about dancing and I always say that I got lucky when I picked a name out of the Yellow Pages. That's true, but I did look into it a bit further and one of the things I did was google what the teachers qualifcations meant. I knew nothing about ballet but i figured that like any other physical pursuit there must be safety issues and that a young child badly taught could injure themselves. The fact that i was putting her in the hands of a qualified teacher gave me some reassurance (though I was never naive enough to believe it was any guarantee, and there were other things that I asked questions about too.)When you start your child on any new activity it's a step into the unknown and it's difficult for the novice to know how to choose a teacher. I think that opting for someone who has trained with a recognised body is usually the best approach, whether you are talking about ballet or other things such judo or swimming. It's possibly quite different at higher levels but I'd personally be uncomfortable in entrusting a young chld to an unqualified person.

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I thought that any person working with children had to have CRB clearence. As to regards a teacher being qualified in dance, I would sooner they were qualified in anathomy and how the bones and muscles work. I prefer a teacher who teaches a student to dance and how to not just listen to music but to really feel it, and doesnt get too bogged down by syllabus work. However I realise that many students want to do these exams so therefore the teacher needs to be qualified to teach the syllabus.

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No there's no legal requirement until you are considered caring for a child for several hours a week I believe.

Anatomy is included within the teacher training of most, if not all dance teaching societies.

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Just for the record, like ISTD, the RAD also recommends CRB clearance and Ive used their public liability insurance for years- that is a legal requirement.

Learning a syllabus is a very small part of teacher training. Of far more importance is correct ballet technique, anatomy, health and safety issues, the understanding of different methods of teaching,understanding of child development, the ability to convey musical instructions to pupils and pianists... the list is endless and a recognised teaching qualification takes years to complete. It was 6 years before I finally got my diploma-3 as a student and 3 professionally. And us teachers all have to do CPD now too (which I already did because you never stop learning!)

 

When looking at schools for my DS I always checked the qualifications. Yes there are gifted, unqualified individuals but it mattered to me that he was being trained by those who had clearly made some effort to get some teacher training and would therefore hopefully be up to date on safe teaching practises.

 

It frustrates me that in 30 years of teaching no one has ever asked to see my insurance certificates or checked my hard earned qualifications!

 

Just for the record, someone clearly well qualified with ISTD, RAD etc is not just a syllabus teacher. At least they shouldn't be. When being examined teaching classes my trainee teachers(RAD CBTS) have to teach non syllabus as the emphasis is all on correct teaching of ballet, good class management skills, musical understanding,the ability to progress all students of varying abilities etc.

 

Unfortunately some teachers, on being qualified do only ever teach syllabus but this really shouldn't be the case. Yes they are qualified to enter pupils for particular exams but this shouldn't be the be all and end all.

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It frustrates me that in 30 years of teaching no one has ever asked to see my insurance certificates or checked my hard earned qualifications!

 

My DD's teacher has all her certificates, insurance, licence to use music ((can't remember the proper name!) etc in frames on the walls in the studio so that everyone can see them. Could you do the same or do you teach in a variety of venues? I think you are right to be proud of your qualifications as they are definitely not easily come by. Where would we be without great teachers?

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Would I could have my own studio! Not only could we display qualifications, licences etc but there would be pictures of dancers galore,information on productions etc

 

However I work all over the place in a variety of venues 7 days a week!

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I agree with you, taxi. You can be the best dancer in the world but a poor teacher. Knowing how to do something yourself is different from teaching someone else how to do the same thing. A really good teacher has a degree of empathy and excellent communication skills. It's absolutely vital that teachers know how to avoid injuries in their students as well. As for CRB checks, I would be astonished if a dance teacher was not checked (even if it was not strictly legally required) when Sunday School teachers, choirmasters, Saturday morning football coaches, parent helpers in schools, most of whom are volunteers, are now all CRB-checked.

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Being qualified as a teacher is important ,not only do you learn about anatomy but also the different life span of dancers and their development from age to age ,children develop at different phases in their life and it is vital that teachers know how to teach safely and correctly at these various times .

Childrens bodies are very precious and no one wants to do them damage .

Working with people you also have to learn how to get the best out of them , some children you can joke with ,some its a soft word etc each child is an individual within the class.

Qualifications are always changing to be brought in line with the AQA and I find myself going on new courses to be kept up to date (which some times is a pain ) but at last dance has become a recognised qualification within the academic world and children can use these as accredited points towards uni.

I would not be able to enter children for exams if I were not qualified .

What does annoy the hell out of me is the fact so many people are setting up drama and dance clubs around local schools ,charging a fortune for them, very few are qualified yet because they have glossy adverts and charge a lot some parents think it must be good ! sorry rant over .

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What does annoy the hell out of me is the fact so many people are setting up drama and dance clubs around local schools ,charging a fortune for them, very few are qualified yet because they have glossy adverts and charge a lot some parents think it must be good ! sorry rant over .

 

There's a lot of it about, they do seem to be run by rather young people. Perhaps they can't find work on stage in the performing arts themselves, and have decided that being self-employed is better than being on the dole. I do admire their enterprise, but I wonder about their expertise.

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On the other hand.....only one of the teachers I took class from had any sort of "qualification." She was a Cecchetti teacher/examiner. While she was very good at basic elements like presenting a system to learn body/foot/head/arm positions, I found when I left after three years I was ill prepared in almost every other way.

 

There were at one time two RAD teachers in this area and in both cases well below the standard offerred by the other unaffiliated teachers and they went out of business quite quickly.

 

The rest of my teachers were mostly retired dancers. Not one of them had any kind of certificate. This is true for most of the dance instruction in the USA and we seem to produce some excellent dancers. San Diego alone has produced many professional dancers who have danced with major companies including principal dancers with those companies.

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Anjuli - I don't think we are talking about retired dancers here, whether they had a formal qualification or not, they knew what they were doing. It is the young, sometimes barely out of their teens students who simply do not know how to dance and would never be professional dancers. They have taken classes for a few years, learnt a little, but seem to think they know enough to teach.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Pas de Quatre. DD had a young teacher come to the school and the students loved her to start off with . 12 months later none of them had really progressed or learnt much. I found another teacher - really wished I hadn't waited the time but I had to let DD see the problem and she had also during this time informed me that this was now her career choice. Teacher we moved to was so good and worked so hard with DD to try and make up for lost time. The original school had gone through quite a period of trying to find teachers and there had been a lack of continuity so there really was a lot to make up!

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What frustrates me is that people think that any professional dancer will be a good teacher, and if you never danced professionally you'll never by employed by a vocational school, regardless of how good you are as a teacher. A colleague of mine is a wonderful teacher, her pupils all adore her, she is an RAD examiner and is warmly welcomed wherever she goes examining yet was passed over by one of the 'big 4' a few years ago for someone who had no teaching qualifications but who was a recent ex-pro. Similarly I have pupils who participated in a 'performance-based weekend ballet scheme' (which will remain nameless) - the company proudly advertise that all classes are taught by ex-professional dancers yet the kids thought that the person 'teaching' them hadn't helped them progress or learn anything other than choreography.

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