Last September, I started an internship as an assistant dance teacher at a dance studio not far from my university. I went to four classes a week to help out and now I am doing five classes with kids ages 3-10.
I knew going into it that teaching dance was something I was interested in and that this was a good start I could use to get some experience and learn from current teachers by working closely with them in their classes. However, I have built a relationship with these kids that I never had expected.
I love being a role model to them and seeing their dancing skills improve as a direct result of these classes that I am a part of. Some try and work so hard and it is inspiring to see. As someone who has grown up in dance classes, seeing how they work in class just rekindles my passion for dance even more. I was once in their shoes and now I get to share the knowledge I have accumulated, help them have fun, and reach their potential as dancers and as people.
There is an after-school program before the classes I go to and sometimes I like to get there early and watch them interact with each other. It might sound strange, but they're so innocent and kind. It doesn't matter where the other kids come from or whether or not they know each other from school; they all play together and become friends in no time. It's the sweetest thing to watch and gives me a sense of hope.
I know as they get older, they won't act the same. I know kids get into groups at school and some will exclude others because they think they don't fit in. But everyone starts at this point. Everyone can find it in themselves to love all their peers and accept each other no matter what if we just tune into what was in us as kids.
Maybe its because they don't understand differences yet, but I believe we can all tune into that childlike sense of acceptance and compassion. Being close to them and seeing how they interact with each other puts a smile on my face and makes me constantly reevaluate how I am interacting with the people around me every day.
Even though sometimes I have to discipline them for things like not paying attention to the teacher or touching the mirror, I love to joke around with them and be someone they can view as a friend. Yes, I'm an adult and they are children, but I know from personal experience how much a kid can look up to a dance teacher and that motivates me to be the best I can be for them.
Teaching dance is such a gratifying experience and even though I'm not teaching my own classes yet, I know I want to eventually. Working with kids as great as the ones I'm with now is something I will always look forward to and something that motivates me every day to get out of bed and be the best person I can be.
I learned so much from my dance teachers growing up and now I can continue to learn from a different perspective; from the kids I get to teach.