The Student, The Teacher and The Expert.

Most of the subjects I am asking you to teach your students will be well within your range of knowledge. You know what an outward figure 8 is, you can show others how to do it, describe it, and make it fit to the music. I have confidence in you!

However, there may be topics in these lessons that you are less confident in passing on to your students, like ATS or zills or veil.

If you do not feel confident in teaching a particular subject, you have two options: Avoid teaching it; or increase your knowledge.

There are many fabulous, well known and well respected teachers who limit their classes to the topics that they enjoy and that fit in with their knowledge. Then there are other teachers, like me, who love to study all things belly dance and want to share it all with their students. No matter which camp you are in, you will have to plan your own education alongside that of your students. I also recommended that you spend some time understanding the difference between being a student, a teacher and an expert.

We all start out as students, no matter the subject. We want to learn. To begin with we study from one or two sources, and then, just as we start to think we understand, we find conflicting information, differing views and realize that our subject is more confusing that we first thought. As a teacher, we need to understand this process, and provide our beginners with a reasonable level of information, so as not to overwhelm them. We are their primary source of information.

You will have someone attend your lesson about outward 8s who will have seen a video where the dancer uses her feet or knees (or says not to use the feet or knees). This may be in conflict to how you want the move done. At this point you have to accept the role of teacher and say something along the lines of “some people do it like that, we do it like this”. Congratulations, you just asserted yourself as a teacher. You accepted that other opinions exist, but put your own personal preferences first. That is not to say you can invent a whole new reality. You must still work within the boundaries of the generally accepted norms. But we all know that there is no solid, perfect, “right”, way to do a movement.

As a teacher, you need to have studied belly dance in detail, and have formed your own thoughts about everything from movement and styling, to history and stagecraft. However, you do not need to be an expert.

Experts are those people who have studied a topic in great detail for many years. Usually they have done so through a college or university, or by living the life, or researching for respected publications or books. In belly dance we have many wonderful experts who have taken a life time to study, develop or research a particular style or technique. I have added a list of experts to the final lesson in this course.

As a teacher, there is no need to become an expert in all aspects of belly dance. Indeed, it is probably impossible. However, the experts are there for us to study with, to learn from and to refer to. All teachers should be constantly planning their own continued study, be that in their favored topic, or in the broadest stroke of all belly dance. Recognize your own weaknesses, and look for gaps in your education. Purchase books and DVDs, book workshops, take on-line lessons, approach local experts, host workshops and surf websites. The experts have provided the information you need, to pass on the key concepts to your students.

Understanding how teachers work as a funnel from the experts to the students, helps us define our role as teachers. If we arrived at our first class with a truck full of research, we would drown our students. However, they look to us to back up our lessons with facts and the opinions of experts. Equally, the experts are not doing all this study just for their own pleasure, they look to us to pass the key points on to our students, to dismiss myths and pass their finding on to the next generation.

As you work on your education, keep notes of what information is suitable for your students, so you can provide them with the strongest foundations in belly dance.