How to get teaching work and stay successful.
Some advice for those interested in getting teaching work at a studio, from the point of view of a studio owner.
1. First, try to get into the headspace of the studio owner. What are they looking for? What attributes would make an ideal employee? If you were to hire a dance teacher to work at a studio you owned, what would you be looking for?
2. Research to find out information about the studios you're applying to. Which ones seem like they would be a good fit for you in terms of culture, location, professionalism etc. Visit their website and read up on them.
3. Email your CV and include your teaching experience. Be honest, no need to glorify. If you haven't had much paid teaching experience mention it, but talk about how much passion you have to get into the field. And don't forget to put your phone number. It’s also helpful to state right from the beginning of the email what days and hours you're currently available for work and/or for covering work.
4. Call to follow up. Studio owners are famously busy, typically running around and juggling many things. A quick call 2-3 days after emailing, just to check the email was received and to introduce yourself is a good idea. As a studio owner I appreciate it, and I see it as a sign of a passionate and dedicated potential team member.
5. Ask to pop in to introduce yourself. Don't be afraid to make the connection. How is a stranger really meant to know what you're like unless you meet them in person? On the phone say,
"Hi. I sent through my CV to you recently. I was wondering if it'd be OK with you if I popped into the studio sometime this week to quickly introduce myself. I've been on your website and it looks like you're doing great things and I'd love to see your studio. I won't take up much of your time, just a quick hello as I'm passing through."
I'd respond well to that. As studio owners, more than anything we want someone who WANTS to teach. This level of initiative and interest would be appealing so long as it was executed in a way that didn't put pressure on me to offer work. It's about making a connection so that they'll think of you next time they actually need someone.
6. Offer a trial class. No one should work for free, but if you're REALLY GOOD at what you do, and if you want a chance to show an employer just how brilliant you are, then offer to come in and teach a free one-off class. Then get in there and smash it! Be vibrant, fun and in control of the room. Make an amazing impression and you may get years of work from it, and so it will be well worth giving up an hour.
7. When/if your available hours change, send out an update. It's a good chance to remind that studio you're out there if they need you, which bumps you back up to the top of their mind.
8. Understand that 90% of all the hiring is done in November/December for the following year. That's when you should be hustling to fill up your teaching week.
9. Don't be outrageous with your wage demands. Negotiate and perhaps discuss starting at a more conservative hourly rate, but with an opportunity to review in three months, after you've proven your worth. Also leverage the size of the teaching block. Obviously if it's only 2 classes then it's going need to be a higher hourly rate to cover the effort of getting there, and more importantly the fact that the whole night of potential other work would become unavailable. Are there other classes you could take on, even in an assistant role at a reduced rate? Or private lessons you could offer to pad out the hours?
10. Once you've got the job, embrace the studio 100%. Don't just be someone who walks in and out and doesn't care, otherwise you won't last in the position. Get a studio branded T-shirt, learn the kids names, join the studio group on Facebook. Wave the flag and be part of the team.
11. Present well. Be likeable. Be prepared. Be patient. Don't be a diva. You're teaching kids to dance, not starring in a movie. We've all been there wiping booger-nosed kids and cleaning up a 3 year-olds’ accident in class.
12. Don't sweat the small stuff. Not being paid to be at a concert? It's up to you how you feel about that, but how often is it really happening? And is the studio owner driving around in a Porsche making millions from taking advantage of you? Or are they focused about making ends meet too, and likely putting in dozens of extra hours a week beyond what they're "making" from the business? Realistically for most, this whole industry is a passion-project. And yes, of course your time is worth something, but if it's only every now and then you’re asked for a little extra, it’s better to focus on the big things and the rest comes out in the wash. My staff who consistently put in that little bit extra, whether it be rocking up to an Eisteddfod in support, being there early to help on concert day, to just being valuable in general, get a pay raise every year and/or increased hours. And that works out to be a LOT more than if they nickel and dimed the little things.
13. What do we need from you? Pretty simple really.
· Be on time.
· Only miss class when really really sick and give as much notice as possible.
· Be prepared.
· Run professional, efficient and enjoyable dance classes, that the students will really love.
· Fit into the culture of the studio.
· Be good at what you do.
14. Want more hours? Want more money? Get more kids into your classes!
Ask what you can do to help advertise. Get out into the community and help parents who are out there looking for dance classes for their kids find your studio, and your classes. Post on Facebook. Offer to visit schools. Hustle. And make every lesson so incredibly life-changingly brilliant that the kids you DO have already can't help but talk about it all week and WANT to bring their friends. If your classes are the most filled, and if your numbers INCREASE significantly throughout the year, your studio owner would have to be an idiot not to see your value and be willing to negotiate your rate at the end of the season.
To summarise; put yourself at the top of our minds so that when we need someone - and we will need someone – we’ll call you! Then be brilliant and become the sort of employee that a studio simply couldn't live without. Irreplaceable. Then keep a professional dialogue and regular communication with your studio owner about your progress, your short and long term goals, and potential future opportunities for additional hours and rate increases.
If you can fill up your week with big blocks, work your way up in the industry with experience and skills, then it's possible to make $1200-$1600 a week in a highly rewarding part-time (25 hours a week) position.
I know a few dance teachers out there who have mastered the art of being a highly-employable non-studio-owner dance teacher and make over $2000 a week. They're are the top of the game though. While it won’t happen overnight, and it takes a great understanding of the needs of your employer, just know that there's great potential in the job of dance teaching.
How valuable can you make yourself?
By BEN STOKES
Founder of STUDIO SAVVY
(launching 22nd July 2019)
MDM – the future is now.