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.
This edition will feature Jade Whitmire and her student Chloe Madding. Chloe was asked to be part of Dancerpalooza's performance on "The Ellen Show." Here is how Jade felt about that.
As a dance teacher, I experience daily moments of pride and triumph. Whether it is witnessing a student master a difficult step, support a fellow dancer, or take creative risks; I always feel so grateful to be a part of that growth. I always knew dance would be a monumental part of my life, but I NEVER dreamed I would fall in love with teaching, and I resisted it every step of the way.
I started teaching tap in a small town at age 16…. much too young to take over an entire tap program! I had no real interest in teaching at the time, but there was a lack of tap talent in the Houston community and I sort of fell into the job. I continued teaching while in college and enjoyed working with the kids each week, but it paled in comparison to how dancing made me feel. There was just no spark there yet, so I moved to NYC with intentions of dancing for a few years and attending law school. I ended up subbing here and there, and the next thing I knew, I was teaching dance more than I was training or auditioning. Somewhere along the way, the small spark was lit, and I began to embrace being a teacher and let go of being a “dancer” as a priority.
My first year after returning to Houston, I had a tiny, shy 6 year old student named Chloe Madding in my classes. At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was to teach her, or how she would change my life, but she smiled and worked hard, and that is all one can ask from a student that young. Two years later, I choreographed her first tap solo. Not everyone believed she could pull it off, as she was not the kid who “got it” right away … but she WAS the kid that would go home and work until she did, and at age 8 she blew us away with her first tap solo performance. As she grew stronger over the next few years, I began to realize just how rare and special she was, as she constantly challenged and inspired me to grow as a teacher and choreographer. I realized THIS is what teaching is all about, and felt the artistic fulfillment and pride I hadn’t felt since I was a “dancer”. Pushing and inspiring kids, and having them push and inspire you.
Chloe is the type of student who always instills an instructor with pride, and many teaching moments stand out in our time together. Most recently, Chloe booked her first professional paid gig. I received the call last month that Chloe had been invited to dance on the Ellen show with 30 of the nation’s most talented young dancers, representing “Dancerpalooza”. I mean, who gets to say their first job is with the Ellen show?? I was so proud and excited for her, I cried. My little Clo would get paid to perform on national television! Even though the tap section was short, I knew it would be one of those life-changing moments for her, which in turn made it special for me. I will never forget watching the live show, and how proud I felt when I spotted her bright red tap shoes and big smile on the TV screen. As dance teachers, we are always proud of our students…but that is definitely a “teaching moment” I will cherish and never forget.
Here's Chloe on "The Ellen Show."