Proud teaching moments can come with the smallest of achievements. They can come with students overcoming the largest of obstacles. You can have many a week or maybe just one a month. Sometimes the students' progress seems to move slowly and if you ask my students, they will tell you that I think they never practice enough. But throughout the course of each student's training, we have these special moments where we see it sinking in and it starts to click. These are the moments that make us fall in love with teaching.
The purpose of this blog, Teaching Moments, is not only to inspire each other as teachers but to let our students know how greatly they affect us. I'm hoping this blog gives us a platform to share our stories and tell our students how proud of them we really are.
I wanted to start off this series with my wife. I get a first hand account of how much she loves teaching and I get daily reports on the progress of her students. There was one dance in particular that she choreographed this year that I knew she was nervous about. A lot of the times, the things we worry most about become the most rewarding in the end. I'll let her explain.
I was hired at Dance Dimensions in New Milford, NJ when I decided to go to college at Montclair State University. I started off teaching an hour and a half a week with six kids in my class. Every year though, the number of students and number of hours increased. Over the next 13 years, the number increased to 55 students competing in various different tap routines. Pretty impressive to think that I started with 6. Thinking about this now, I’m extremely proud of how far the tap program has grown at this studio, but it’s not my proudest moment.
About six years ago, the owner, Annette Romano Merlini, gave me the opportunity to do a “tap production” competition number including all different ages and levels, whoever wanted to join. The first year started with a number somewhere in the teens. The next year a few more students joined. Last year, I hit my highest. 26 students were in the group ranging from ages 9-16. We had such a successful year with that routine and experienced an amazing week in Ocean City, MD at nationals. I didn’t think I could be more proud of a dance and the students that were involved. That is until this year.
2015/2016 turned out to hold my proudest teaching moment in my career. Sign-ups for our “tap production” started like any other year. The number got up to the twenties again. And then the thirties. And finally it got up to 40. 40 kids had signed up. Ages 8-17 this time. I had no idea how I would do it but I was up for the challenge.
The process was hard and tiring but choreographing almost all dances are, especially when you’re pregnant. The outcome, for me, was the most amazing feeling. It made all the stress, the worrying, the countless hours put into it, totally worth it. Watching them perform on stage was the tip of the iceberg. Seeing those little 8 year olds try their best to keep up with the 18 year olds was unbelievable. Seeing 40 kids tap dance on a stage together was even more incredible. Knowing that I was about to cry in front of the entire studio from pure joy seeing them on stage was, well, not the best feeling, but I didn’t stop the tears. The tears rolled down from excitement knowing that 40 kids loved tapping and I was the one who guided them. I don’t think I could be more proud of all of those kids. I still cry every time I see them perform this dance. (Even watching them on video.)
If you have a TEACHING MOMENT you want to share email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.