- Be Organized.
Know what you're saying when and what music you're playing when. Nothing looks worse than a teacher fiddling with the music for 2 minutes. Know when the song is going to end and be there to pause it before the next one starts playing. You should never have to sprint back over to the DJ table. Plan what you're doing next while the music is playing, not after the song has run out.
- Establish a flow.
Every time a new concept or term is introduced, make sure students know what it is and have some time to practice (and don't try to talk at them while they are practicing!). After you've said "let's go!" or "grab your partner" or "get ready" do. not. stop. to tell them something more. It can wait until next time. Make sure students know exactly what they should be practicing/learning/working on and what they'll need to do with that knowledge.
- Be clear and confident.
Walk forward when you're talking to students and make eye contact with them. Don't talk at students when you have your back to them. Learn what your verbal and physical phidgets are and stop. Never, ever talk over the music; students won't hear you (or worse, they will and you'll have broken the flow). Students can tell the difference between a pause to figure out the most effective phrasing and a pause to remember what you're talking about.
- Know the material.
You should understand two or three levels of truth beyond the words that come out of your mouth. If you don't know the difference between a snare and a hi-hat, you shouldn't be teaching a class on musicality, period. The best material is often what you struggled a lot with as a beginner or intermediate, so that you deeply understand the difficulties. Every song you pick should be the best demonstration of the topic.
- Be good at dancing.
This is more than knowing the terms and what you should be doing. Some students learn by words, some by watching, some by doing (most by a combination of all three). You need to be able to tell students to move from their core and then show them what really great core-driven movement looks like. You need to have confirmed and been told by people who know their stuff that your core movement is fantastically good.
- Know yourself.
In order to be a great instructor, you *must* be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you're great at rhythms, teach a rhythms class. If you're great at spins, teach a spins class. You also need to be aware of your bad habits and be actively working on them; they will show up 100-fold in your students.
- Watch your students.
As an instructor, you *must* be aware of how much material your students are retaining and how engaged they are in the lesson. This means watching them carefully as you're talking and every time they're dancing. Watch where they're looking: at you or off into space? Watch their posture: forward/interested/eager, back/closed off, or not paying attention/spaced out?
Written by Paul Mandel