Have you noticed that my CPD courses and posts are not about dance syllabi? There is good reason for me avoiding syllabus in favour of all the other amazing things that are so enlightening and useful for dance teachers around the world. A good percentage of dance teachers are likely to be teaching some sort of syllabus in one or more dance genres. And if syllabus is your bread and butter for class content then why would you want to spend your CPD time looking at the same steps, movements and dances that you teach most of the time? Yes, we need to know the syllabus and content at each level but if we are teaching it regularly then is it not more useful to use your CPD time to enhance aspects of your dance teaching that whilst not about the syllabus, will surely add to your knowledge, skills and understanding of the how, what and why of dance teaching including syllabus? Teaching syllabus requires much more than just knowing the steps. To be able to teach with understanding of the physical and psychological issues relating to the learning and teaching of dance needs us to look outside of the syllabus and open ourselves up to the other areas and topics that help to make us better dance teachers.
I am dismayed when I still see so many syllabus sessions presented as if they are the only CPD that we can do. Of course reviewing syllabus or learning new syllabus is important to keep syllabus knowledge up to date but there is so much more to CPD than syllabus. And this is why the short online CPD courses that I offer stay strictly away from syllabus. These courses are suitable for anyone teaching any genre of dance from Ballet, Highland, Salsa, Jazz to mention but a few. These short courses deal with improving teaching methods and approaches. Or improving our understanding of anatomy and function in dance. They explore ways to enhance our understanding of how to help our student dancers develop self-confidence and a sense of self as well as performance along with their technical dance skills. This exploration of relevant topics outside of the syllabus aims to help our student dancers develop and flourish as people as well as dancers.
Teaching ethically is something that we need to focus on as well as on the steps in the syllabus. So it is vital that we look outside of the syllabus to find out what ethical dance teaching is and how we can incorporate it in our teaching of syllabus for the benefit of our dance students and ourselves as dance teachers.
Whether you became a dance teacher following on from a dance learning route that started in childhood. Or following on after a career as a professional dancer. Or perhaps you were a later starter and studied long and hard as a young adult. Or perhaps you turned to dance teaching later in life as a social dance teacher. Whatever route you took, you became a dance teacher. If you have been teaching dance for some time then you may or may not, be familiar with the sorts of research that has emerged in dance medicine and science, particularly over the past 20 plus years. If you have come to dance teaching in more recent years you may already be aware of the new knowledge and understanding that has been regularly emerging in relation to safe dance practice and other health promoting topics relevant to dance teaching. There is so much fabulous, knowledge and understanding available these days and it is there to help us be the very best teachers we can be.
When I look back on my own dance learning, as I did during my PhD research and studies, one thing stands out above all else, the need to be curious. My curiosity fired up early on and it has never left me. I continue to learn and develop and value CPD, not as a chore, but as something wonderful that helps me to develop and add to my skills. My endless curiosity has taken me in various directions during my career including studying Health Education, Medical Ethics, Psychology, and lots of other fields of knowledge that have all contributed to my personal and professional development as a dance and health educator. Continuing to be curious and open to learning and development is the secret.
There are so many ways to experience CPD and many types of CPD for those of us involved with dance teaching. I urge you to experience a variety of CPD that will give you opportunities to enhance different aspects of your dance teaching for the benefit of both you and your dance students.