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How to Get a Job as a K-12 Dance Teacher

male dance teacher leading a group of dancers in lines in a gymnasium in learning choreography


After discerning that K-12 dance education is the right career path for you, and attaining the necessary education and credentials, the next step is securing a job. This will require knowing where to look for job postings, preparing and submitting application materials, and interviewing for the position.

Where to Find a Job as a K-12 Dance Teacher

Job postings for K-12 dance teacher positions can be found in many different places:

  • The NDEO Jobs Board features postings from NDEO member and non-member schools across the country. NDEO members can search job openings by sector and grade level, view the posting and related contact information, and even apply to the job through a link on the posting.
  • Job postings can also be found on third party platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, or ZipRecruiter.
  • If your state has an NDEO State Affiliate or another state-wide dance service organization, they may feature job openings on their website.
  • The website for your State Department of Education may also feature job postings for open positions within the state. If you know the school or district in which you’d like to work, you can also check their website.
  • Social media can also be a good resource. You can search dance-related Facebook groups or go directly to the accounts of the schools or districts and look for job postings.

Tips for the Application and Interview Process

Photo of Monica noble , a black woman with dark curly hair, in a colorful blue jumpsuit, she is posing on a sidewalk.

Once you find an open position that interests you, it will be time to prepare for the application and interview process. You will need to consider how to craft your application, how to prepare for your interview, and questions to ask during the interview, among other considerations.

What to know before you apply for a position as a K-12 dance teacher

Before you apply to a K-12 dance teacher position, you will want to gather as much information as you can about the school, the dance program, and the current administration’s goals for dance at your school. You can review the school’s website and dance program’s social media accounts, talk to other teachers at the school and alumni of the dance program, and attend the program’s concerts and events.

NDEO members offer the following tips for what to know before you apply for a job as a dance teacher in the K-12 setting:

“Make sure to review the website and social media for organizations you apply for: see who they are, and if they align with who you are and who you want to be as a teacher. See what their program looks like: how often do classes meet, how long are classes, what are the positives and what will be challenges to anticipate, and how much say will you have in programing and curriculum development.” - Sarah Roney, Performing Arts Department Chair and Teaching Fellows Coordinator at Holton- Arms School, a combined grades private school in Washington, D.C.

“Definitely research your district, school, and specific K-12 jargon so you can speak to your strengths and how that will serve the school and community.” - Liz Osborn, Dance Director at a public high school in Georgia

Cara taking a selfie with her students in a dance studio.

“Do as much research as you can on the school and the school’s philosophies around teaching and learning. If you understand the school's values when it comes to education, you will be able to show your personal alignment with the school’s values and how you would fit into the school community.” - Cara Lavallee (pictured left with students), Middle & Upper Learning Dance Teacher at The Galloway School, a private PreK-12 school in Georgia

“Do research on the school and school district for which you are applying and be able to describe how you will be able to fit in with the school's vision and culture. Be ready to explain what you can bring to the table if they hire you.” - Angela Criscimagna, Dance Director at Great Oak High School, a public high school in California

“Look at the website and see what opportunities the school offers for dancers (clubs, IB program, choreography, field trips, performances, levels, etc). Knowing the program will help you interview better as you can immediately identify ways you can fit into their program and bring opportunities that they don't already offer. Districts are always looking to improve in the future and if they have someone who has ideas, they will listen even if they can't implement them immediately!” - Deborah Toteda, Dance Teacher/Director at Harrison High School, a public high school in New York

How to prepare for your interview for a K-12 teaching position

Before your interview, you will want to make sure that you prepare all required materials, such as a CV, teaching reel, sample lesson plan or curriculum, or portfolio. Some of these may have been part of the application process, or you may be asked to bring them to the interview. If no requirements are listed, you might consider reaching out to the administration to confirm their expectations. Additionally, you will want to consider how your teaching philosophy aligns with the mission and values of the school, and what you can bring to the position that will be unique and beneficial to the students.

Below you will find advice from NDEO members on how to prepare for your K-12 dance teacher interview:

Headshot of Heather, a white woman with blond hair, she is gazing away from the camera with her hand on her face.

“My advice to those wanting to interview for dance teacher positions in a K-12 setting is to have a portfolio ready to show as well as coming ready with your goals for the program. Principals want to see what you can bring to the dance department at their school and see who you are as an artist, and what you can teach their students. Think of your interview as an audition and go in with the same level of confidence in your own work and experience.” - Lucia Martinez, Dance Director at AcadeMir Charter School Preparatory, a combined grades charter school in Florida

“Know the "why" you desire to be an educator and how you will make dance accessible for all levels of learners. Think through the assessment process and how you will do this in dance and connecting it to standards will help.” - Heather Almanza (pictured right), Dance Teacher, Mission Hills High School in California

“Address how your teaching philosophy connects to the school's mission and design and if it's a new program you are interviewing for, what types of skills you can add to the mix. Be prepared to be able to speak to "why" you are teaching what you are teaching in your sample lesson plan. When giving the sample, do your best to keep the full group moving, participating and enjoying.” - Ann Robideaux, Theater/Dance Coordinator/Teacher/Choreographer at Princeton Day School, a private combined grades school in New Jersey

“Understand current teaching practice and classroom management key words. Administrators will have no idea how qualified you are as a dance teacher or how to evaluate how well you know your content area. They will look for how charismatic you are- will you be able to engage the students? They will ask questions regarding your approach to managing disruptive/ non-compliant students, differentiation, remediation and acceleration, collaborative learning and planning, assessment etc.” - Heather Nelson, Dance Teacher at North Port High School, a performing arts magnet high school in Florida

“Be ready with ideas for how you would build a program at their school. Many schools in our area are adding dance programs for the first time, so they are relying on teachers who are knowledgeable and ready to hit the ground running. If you get an interview, come prepared with sample lesson plans, a unit outline or course overview, and be ready to explain it to someone without knowledge in dance.” - Elisa Foshay, Dance Educator at Jones College Prep, a charter or magnet high school in Illinois

“Be a member of NDEO and keep up with the K-12 forum. Ask those in the building who have curriculum experience to share that documentation as they can easily be edited for dance. Do not be afraid to ask someone who is not in the arts as their templates can be modified or changed for the arts.” - Kathleen Dominiak Treasure, Dance Director at Hammond Arts and Performance Academy, a public high school in Indiana

Photo of Caroline, a white woman with dark eyes, smiling.

“Know how to write curriculum. know the Dance standards. be prepared to talk about the mental health of our young people and have a strategy to help them with that. Create a public school program---not a conservatory or private studio atmosphere but a space where individuality and self-expression is encouraged.” - Caroline Brackett (pictured left), Dance Educator, West Genesee High School, a public high school in New York

“Be prepared and organized. I had a portfolio ready with assignments, spreadsheets of how Igraded participation, etc. Also teaching in a public school is not just about being a good dance teacher, it's about building relationships, so let your personality show.” - Niki Thuman, Teacher at L'Anse Creuse Public School, a public high school in Michigan

“My best advice would be to able to articulate your teaching philosophy and demonstrate your work. Either by showing past work with students or in person.” - Gina Statile, Dance Educator at Garfield Public Schools, teaching in public middle and high school in New Jersey

What to ask about in the interview process

It is important to remember that the interview is a time of discernment for both parties. The administration will determine if the applicant is the right fit for the position, and the applicant will determine whether the job is right for them. As the applicant, you should be asking questions of the administration that will help you decide whether or not this is the job for you.

Below, NDEO members offer their advice for what kinds of questions to ask during the interview process:

Kristin on her knees against a dark backround, pointing at something off camera.  She is wearing a black tshirt and green pants.

“Ask questions about extra contracts and opportunities available, such as choreographing for the school musical. Ask how the administration feels about having dance as a part of their high school offerings.” - Kristin Blatzheim (pictured right), Dance Teacher at ISD 196, a public high school in Minnesota

“Ask questions about the short and long term goals for the dance program. Ask to see the space where you will be teaching. Ask if you will have a budget or need to fundraise to get the resources you need. Are you giving teachers their preps? Is there an expectation for your students to have performances, have dance classes after school, or for you to have a dance company or choreograph the school play?” - Gina Spears, Dance Educator at Portage Park Elementary, a public elementary school in Illinois

“Ask if you can visit the space you will be teaching in, and find out the resources they can offer to help you build your program. Ask about their expectations regarding performances, arts integration, other duties outside of class time, and collaboration with other teachers in the school. The ideal school should be a place where you feel valued and have room to grow.” - Elisa Foshay, Dance Educator at Jones College Prep, a charter or magnet high school in Illinois

Special considerations for the interview process

Dance education jobs are unique - and the interview process for one can be unique, too! Here are some special circumstances that you might want to consider when it comes to your interview, as offered by NDEO members:

Ashley Zardus, a white woman with red hair, wearing a black tank top standing and smiling at the camera.

“Keep in mind that if you are applying for a K-12 dance teaching position, you will most likely be teaching multiple levels. In your interview be prepared to show how you would adapt a lesson plan for all ages and abilities. My interview panel also asked me to teach them as I would teach my possible students. Be prepared to bring your ideas and lessons to life.” - Ashley Zardus (pictured left), Dance Director/Teacher at a public high school in the Novi Community School District in Michigan

“Most of the time, the interviewers are not dancers and do not have dance backgrounds. It is very beneficial to be up to date on current educational trends and topics and be prepared to explain how those trends and topics will be addressed in a dance classroom.” - Hannah Olmo, Dance Teacher at Dover Public Schools in New Jersey

“Do not be surprised if you are asked to teach a sample class or if you are interviewed by a team of colleagues and not just the principal.” - Gina Spears, Dance Educator at Portage Park Elementary, a public elementary school in Illinois

“Within my job interview, I was asked to share about my dance teaching pedagogy, classroom management strategies, and overall vision for what I wanted to develop within the high school program. On my interview panel were performing arts teachers and other administration--not everyone in your interview may be familiar with dance terminology so it is important to be clear in sharing about what you bring to the k-12 setting.” - Hannah Jones, Dance Director at Richlands High School, a public high school in North Carolina

“Share your vision of where you see dance education and your future program going. Also, don’t be afraid to say no to teaching courses you are uncomfortable teaching. Additionally, share job related skills that you are comfortable with. Such as lighting design, fitness or nutrition classes, etc.” - Michelle Dunn, Dance Educator at Centennial High School, a public high school in Nevada

Mary Anne, a white woman who is wearing a gray tshirt and black leggings, she is mid movement and looking at her hands.

“Interviews are a difficult and often artificial process. If at all possible, ask if you can work with the students as part of the process.” - Leslie Williams, Director of Dance at Liberty High School, a public high school in Colorado

“First. Be a member of NDEO. Second, fully understand how all that you teach in the studio impacts a students' overall school experience; its relationship to their confidence level, their motivation, their skills of collaboration and critical thinking. The person interviewing you probably has no clue about dance, but they understand these other things.” - Jessy Kronenberg, Dance Teacher working at El Cerrito High School in West Contra Costa Unified School District, California

“Be confident. Be a good listener in interviews and respond with sincerity.” - Mary Anne Herding (pictured right), Dance Department Chair and Dance Educator at Xavier College Preparatory, a private high school in Arizona

Photo Credits (in order of appearence): Courtesy of Dr Phillips HS Dance Magnet, Photo of Monica Noble by John Nalls, Photo courtesy of Cara Lavallee, headshort courtesy of Heather Almanza by Elazar Harel, photo of Caroline Brackett by Cassie McNeill, photo by Paul Allen of Allen Photoworks, photo courtesy of Ashley Zardus by Focal Life Photography, photo courtesy of Mary Anne Fernandez Herding by Robin Silver

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