I often hear my students saying things like, “It must be so boring for you to have to teach me this basic stuff,” and, “I’m sorry, I’m a slow learner.” I want all of my students to know that, #1 – I have the BEST job in the world and I honestly don’t find it boring! I love dancing and I love watching the light bulb blink on over someone’s head when they understand something for the first time. It’s like watching a child experience the magic of Christmas – how could that ever get old? #2 – Chances are, you are NOT a slow learner, you’re pretty average. It’s quite likely that I’ve had students who have caught on a little faster than you do, and students who have caught on a little more slowly than you do. If you’re watching, listening, and trying to do what I’m asking, I’m happy. Finding different ways to get my ideas across for different people is actually part of what makes my job fun and keeps it interesting! If you’re feeling self-conscious about how slowly you’re learning, you’re actually wasting part of your concentration, which you could be putting to better use by trying again! I feel bad if you feel bad – I don’t want you to feel intimidated in any way, I just want you to have fun and find a good balance between working hard and not taking any of this too seriously!
If you really want to make your coach’s day, here are a few insider tips:
#1: Five minutes before the end of your lesson, whip out your phone to take a quick video, and ask for homework. We’ll be happy to give you a few tangible things to practice (things you can do even if you don’t have a lot of space at home) before your next lesson. Then, actually PRACTICE in between your lessons. Show your coach you listened to what (s)he said, worked on the skill(s) at home, and then came back better than you were when you left! We want to give you new information and move you towards the next goal during each lesson, we don’t want you paying us to repeat the same lesson we did last week! A good rule is for you to put in practice time at a ratio of at least 2:1 to your lesson time, so if you take a 45 minute lesson each week, plan to practice for 90 minutes each week. It’s best to break this up throughout the week – 15 minutes per day is perfect! That will give you a chance to review the video you took at the end of your last lesson and walk through the exercises. A quick practice won’t seem like such a chore, and then your body will be more accustomed to the movement since you’re practicing it more frequently.
#2: We love it when you wear perfume/cologne sparingly (or not at all), and take a little care of yourself before you come (remember, you’ll be in close contact with others)! We really appreciate it when you wear tops that have at least short sleeves (i.e. no tank tops, sleeveless dresses, etc.). Wear clothing and shoes in which you feel good and can move comfortably. If you’re uncomfortable or self-conscious, it will distract from your learning! Before you show up for your lesson, lift your arms above your head and see if your stomach peeks out from under your shirt! You may not notice this during the rest of your day, but we guarantee you’ll be lifting your arms in your lesson, so make sure you feel good about the shirt you chose! Also, remember that you’re in a ballroom, and you WILL be spending a good deal of time in front of a full-length mirror, so take this opportunity to pamper yourself so that you feel happy when you look at yourself! You deserve it!
#3: If you have a question, especially one that will take more than 30 seconds to answer, PLEASE ask it well before the end of your lesson! We hate feeling like we’re pushing you out the door when you have a question, but chances are, we’re already supposed to be on the clock with our next student (or we desperately need the 5 minutes in between lessons to pee!).
#4: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Leave your ego at home and don’t forget your sense of humor! Work hard, but don’t be down on yourself. Recognize that the harder your coach is being on you, the more promise and potential (s)he sees in you! We wouldn’t waste our time screaming and yelling if you were a lost cause! Your coach is pushing you because (s)he sees a breakthrough just ahead – trust us, and keep on keeping on! There are no shortcuts – the only way to success is with time and effort spent practicing. Learn to love the journey, not just the destination.
#5: If you have a medical limitation or pain, PLEASE be honest with us about what you can or can’t do!!! We want you to be comfortable and safe!!! Otherwise… JUST DO IT. Try to let go of the need to give explanations or make excuses for why you didn’t do what your coach is asking you to do. If you’re not sure you understand what we mean, PLEASE ask questions; but if you do understand, please don’t argue with what we say – it’s a waste of your time and money! Think we’re crazy or wrong for asking you to try doing something a certain way? You can make up your mind about that on your own after the lesson – but for now, give our request a try – that’s the only way you’ll receive the benefit that we’re intending for you!
#6: Be kind to yourself, your partner, and your instructor. Everyone is doing their best. Instead of saying, “I can’t—,” try, “I’m currently working on–.” If you’re taking the lesson with a partner, encourage them, and laugh at yourself before you point a finger at them. A partner with hurt feelings or a nervous heart will be a lot harder to dance with than one who knows it’s OK to make a mistake. Finally, try to be respectful of your coach – (s)he has worked hard to get to the level (s)he is at, and is doing his/her best to help you along your dance journey. Yes, it’s a job; but none of us took it because we wanted to punch in and punch out at work – we put a lot of ourselves into what we do, and we really, really appreciate respectful, courteous words!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas in this Blog post! Feel free to post your own ideas or questions!