Continuous Professional Development for Dance Teachers

Sho presentingAs this blog is about CPD for Dance Teachers I thought I should share some thoughts on this topic.  I am a big fan of CPD.  It is good to feel that we are learning, developing and progressing.  Being a dance teacher is not all about the practical teaching practice – which of course is very important.  It is also about the knowledge, skills and understanding that we have to draw on when we need to make decisions about the how, what and why of teaching dance.  Continuing professional development or CPD has been around for a very long time but not necessarily in the dance profession – we have always had opportunities to further our knowledge but these were more usually called training.

CPD has been a requirement to enable doctors, accountants and lawyers to continue practising for a long time.  Many other professions also use a variety of CPD to continue to develop the broad range of knowledge, skills and understanding required to keep up to date with current understanding.  The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) requires its members to do a minimum amount of CPD to remain a member.  And although it is not yet compulsory for many dance teachers to do a minimum amount of CPD each year, we are heading in that direction.  This is a good thing because over the past twenty-odd years the amount we understand about the learning and teaching of dance keeps increasing.  Continuing to enhance our knowledge, skills and understanding on a regular basis not only helps us to do the best for those we teach but it keeps us on our toes as we bring new skills into the dance class and into our teaching.

SpineIn recent months I attended some anatomy workshops for massage and movement therapists.  I thoroughly enjoyed exploring anatomy from a different perspective.  It was quite different experiencing hands on anatomy of the sort that massage therapists use.  And it is exciting to work with people in another field.  These workshops are useful for my CPD because they extend my understanding about anatomy in a new direction and fire up my enthusiasm about the topic – as if this needed firing up!  They also remind me of how wonderful a really good massage is :).

I already have a variety of CPD workshops and events booked up for this year to look forward to.  And I know that each of them will enhance my understanding in some way.  I will share some of this learning with you in the months to come.  Of course CPD comes in many forms.  You can attend workshops, courses and conferences but CPD can also emerge from an inspiring conversation with a colleague or fellow teacher.  It might come from a book that you read or a DVD or television programme that you watch.  Once you begin to recognise that what you are doing is CPD you might realise that you are doing what it says on the tin – continuing professional development.  The continuing bit is so important.  It helps us to evolve our teaching shaped by new ideas and thinking.  Not all CPD is about learning something new.  Sometimes we attend a course or read a book and it reinforces that we are doing the right thing – isn’t it great to confirm that you are going about things the right way?

What I am trying to say here is that CPD is a really positive part of being a dance teacher.  And I hope that through this blog there will be some ‘gosh’ moments, some realisation moments and some exciting moments when you find a nugget of knowledge that you just know is going to help one of your students.