Development Series, RA Dance Blog, Teaching Tips

The Importance of CPD in Dance Teachers

I’m relatively new in my profession as a dance teacher and as such am still learning. Always finding a new tip here or there and thinking about the next qualification to gain. On top of this, I love seeing what other teachers are up to and what they’re teaching different age ranges. As I get more confident in my own teaching though, I don’t want this level of intrigue to stop as I feel it is a very important part of being a dance teacher. Many professions have this elusive thing called CPD, often it’s tied in with their jobs as they try to get a higher position in the company, or their job role changes. Dance teaching is no different, however there often isn’t the incentive to go out their and do more training.

There’s a few reasons for this;
1: We’re all really busy having weird schedules that never really match up with.
2: It can become expensive especially when it’s not adding profit to your business.
3: There are so many options it can become hard to choose which is the best for now.
4: Our job roles remain relatively constant, as such we may feel we don’t need new skills or refreshers.
5: No one particularly enjoys CPD, especially the planning of it.

So what actually is CPD? This is Continued Professional Development, and throughout my university course it was definitely hammered home that it was important, and we continued to do it in the form of workshops with dance artists, lectures, talks, and even by seeing shows at the university theatre. Now that I’ve been away from that little bubble though, I’ve struggled to find the time to put aside to do this additional training. I currently have a list of programmes/training courses that I want to do and am constantly putting off making the time to do any of them. The most recent CPD training I did was to increase my dance teaching qualifications to include IDTA Theatre Craft, this was great I set aside time every week to learn the syllabus and practice it, thinking about ways I would teach it etc. However, I completed that in November and am yet to have done anything further. While this does seem a short break in terms of studying etc, this also includes not having been to see any dance shows. The only form of CPD I’ve been maintaining is getting myself to a ballet class to keep up with my own dance training.

I divide CPD up into different categories. The first of which is professional qualifications. This includes any workshops, events or courses that lead to you getting a further qualification and thus being able to teach different syllabus or classes. As I’m at the start of my career as a dance teacher I have been trying to preference these in the hopes that it will help my business grow in the future. These are fairly easy to spot, many of these programmes are advertised or spoken about on sites like Facebook, within the dance teaching community. There are also other opportunities to do other qualifications though, through your dance teaching association, which aren’t as openly advertised.

Secondly there’s one-off events/workshops. These are opportunities to see how another dance teacher teachers and to learn little tips and tricks from them. It may not result in a qualification but it will help provide skills or exercises that you may not have thought of yourself. These could also be part of a bigger event, the Move-It Dance convention in the UK hosts many talks/workshops and classes that can help us all learn from each other.

Thirdly I would count refresher workshops as their own category. These could be events to go through updates to the syllabus or practical refreshers like redoing your first aid at work and chaperones licence. These courses are things that as a dance teacher we should be updating regularly, I think the latter two are both to be refreshed every three years but that should be checked with the authority it has been done with. These are the courses that you’ll do so many times, and probably begin to resent them but it wouldn’t be safe for you not to have them.

Photo: People Dancing and the Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK

Lastly there’s alternatives, I would pop seeing shows and going to regular class under this. They don’t directly help with our own dance teaching, but they do give us a little bit more inspiration as to what we should be aspiring towards. The more knowledge we have about what others are showing on a professional stage the greater amount of knowledge and training we can impart to our own students.

Without CPD training I believe dance teachers will become stagnant and as such students will begin to move away from us for ‘trendier’ and more ‘modern’ approaches. CPD can give us the tools to help retain and push students and ourselves further. Yes, it will feel like a never ending cycle of always trying to find something to improve upon. But these little tips that we pick up along the way will make us stronger dance teachers and our students will enjoy the classes a whole lot more.

If you think I’m missing out on any other type of CPD do let me know! Also I’d love to know what’s currently on your wish list of training. This can be in the comments down below, through my contact page or on any of my social media!

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