How to Overcome Dance Teacher Burnout
By Erin Pride
About four years ago, I went through a period of time where I was uninspired.
As a teacher, I remember one particular day. At 5:00 in the morning. When this alarm went off, it felt like a knife was stabbing me in my stomach. Dramatic, I know, but it's my truth and I was pouring resentment, anger, fear.
I wanted to pull the covers over my head and disappear. I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to participate. I wanted nothing to do with it….
That is how uninspired, unmotivated I was. I knew the next right thing was to go to work. So I get dressed and I get in the car and I call a friend and I'm complaining the whole way about me, me, me, me, me, I've been in this job for 10 years. I'm burnt out. I don't get the support I need blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Spouting negativity all the way to work…
I get into the classroom in front of my students, I teach a class and it's like I'm on autopilot.
I’m not inspired. I’m not engaged. And as a result, my students are not inspired and they are not engaged! This is not easy to share, but it’s the truth because I know this happens to many dance teachers.
I am hoping that by sharing this, I'm letting you know that it's OK. Teacher burnout happens to the best of us.
So how did I overcome my burnt out, lack of motivation, and loss of inspiration?
Well first I had to get honest with myself and admit that something was wrong, and secondly, I had to decide to change.
I started to try new things in class, to bring more of myself into the classroom. I honestly didn’t know what would work at first…
And then something magical happened. I started my podcast, The Dance Boss Podcast (shameless plug..)
I didn't know that the podcast was going to serve me as much as it would serve the listeners.
I started interviewing people, dance educators, dance entrepreneurs, people who were doing amazing things in their classroom, who had an amazing perspective on dance education.
I started learning again. I started learning how to approach my dance classroom from a place that lit me up from a place that was authentic to me.
I took these ideas, these thoughts, these suggestions people had and I began to play with them within my classroom...
And here’s what I’ve learned:
Most importantly, it all starts with you!
Get out of your own way & let go of that resistance
Be open to always learning
- I was in total resistance of not wanting to go to work. And I had to humble myself and I had to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
- We’ve got to stop putting our happiness on hold and full-heartedly love what we do.
- Nothing is going to change if you don’t change
Remember this Wayne Dyer quote: “Change The Way You Look At Things And The Things You Look At Change”.
- I thought I knew it all which put my learning on hold and limited my ability to grow and change for the better
- Take away that ego and be open to learning more, and be open to learning “your way’ isn’t the best way, and there may be better solutions which will help you and your students in the long run
Explore different concepts & ideas
- I wasn't willing to move outside of my comfort zone. I was stuck in a box in my own ways.
- It wasn't until I was OK with getting uncomfortable, okay with getting perspectives that things improved.
- The best things happen outside of your comfort zone and if you don’t get out of it you will always be in the same place...
- Approach dance education from a place of play!
- Have fun with it and enjoy the process
- I used to be very rigid. I used to put up the comparison monsters, you know, thinking I had to be like everyone else which is NOT TRUE!
- Show up and experiment. Have conversations with others and your students and don’t be afraid to receive feedback.
Once you implement these points and are open to learning again, things can start to change.
When I did, I was re-inspired.
From there, my students grew, and they have gone deep. They are on another level now!
This is such a mirror reflection of how I enter the classroom now. It is so fulfilling and breathtaking. It almost brings me to tears sometimes when I'm just watching my students because they are such leaders in the classroom.
I'm very proud of what I created, but I will say this. It took me a long journey to get there. I had to chip away at the resistance, and if what I described, in the beginning, sounds like you, then you must chip away at it as well.
I know how it is to not want to get out of bed and be in class because you don't know what to give. But the thing is, you do know! Most of the time you need to get out there, learn, hear, explore and listen to re-spark that light that was dimmed!
Because, trust me, if I can, so can you!
Best of luck my friend, I hope you enjoyed these tips.
Join me at Dance Boss Live August 22nd-23rd 2020 in New Jersey. 2 jam-packed days of workshops with Dance Industry Experts, and learning how to implement all those amazing ideas and plans for your dance classes! Learn More Here.
Erin is your personal dance education coach. Jersey girl all the way, she graduated from Montclair State University with a B.F.A. in Dance and received her Masters in Dance Education from New York University. Erin is a dance classroom expert and specializes in lesson planning, unit plan design, and curriculum creation, as well as classroom management strategies. She has over a decade of experience teaching, writing curriculum, and developing programming. Erin is the Director of a High School Dance Program in New Jersey, and the Host of the Dance Boss Podcast. To learn more about Erin visit erindpride.com, and you can hang out with Erin on Instagram and Facebook.