On November 29, 2016, the National Dance Education Organization will host its third annual Thank A Dance Teacher Day campaign. NDEO’s Thank a Dance Teacher Day is a global movement to shine the spotlight on quality dance education and the teachers who make it possible. It was started in 2014 by NDEO with two goals. The first is to use social media to raise awareness of the benefits of dance education and the important role that dance teachers play in shaping the lives of their students. The second is to raise money to support NDEO's Professional Development Scholarships. Each year, these Professional Development Scholarships are awarded to deserving dance teachers, so that they can advance their careers, better serve their students, and give back to the field of dance education.
NDEO's Thank A Dance Teacher Day was one of the first projects of the Decade of Dance Education (2015-2025), a ten year initiative designed to raise the profile of the National Dance Education Organization and the field of dance education centered in the arts, while simultaneously ensuring the growth and development of NDEO for years to come. It is hosted in conjunction with Giving Tuesday, an initiative started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y & and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season.
Why is it important to support dance education and dance educators?
Research suggests that a quality dance education provides physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and psychological benefits. According to Evidence: A Report on the Impact of Dance in K-12 Schools (NDEO, 2013), studies from a range of sources reveal that dance classes as part of school curriculum can have a positive impact on student achievement, teacher satisfaction, and school culture. In addition, thousands of personal testimonies from dancers and former dancers attest to the fact that dance education can have a life-changing effect. Through dance education, students acquire self-respect and self-discipline, learn to collaborate, communicate, and think critically and creatively, and develop empathy and community building skills.
For Michaela DePrince, who had been orphaned in war-torn Sierra Leone, dance taught her about community and collaboration, which helped her to become a member of the Dutch National Ballet:
In ballet I’ve learned that there is no “I” in “class” or “corps”. Dancing in a ballet class or a corps de ballet teaches you that you are not the center of the universe. Learning this basic fact of life is absolutely necessary if you expect to collaborate and empathize with others in all aspects of your life and career, no matter what it might be.
It is an undeniable fact that a quality dance education helps students succeed, both in and out of the studio. Melinda Siligo, a United Airlines Pilot, credits her dance education with her success in the air:
When I showed up to my first interview with an airline, they asked me why I have dance all over my resume. I told them that it is because of my dance classes that I should be a pilot. If I can do several pirouettes, I can spin an airplane. The same thing that keeps you spotting is what keeps an airplane safe. Flying is an art form. It is an aerial dance. You can’t be a pilot with just smarts. You can’t fly airplanes by numbers, but by kinesthetic awareness.
However, none of this would be possible without a trained, qualified, and committed dance teacher. James Whiteside, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York City, acknowledges that his dance teachers were influential in both his professional and personal development:
They are the reason I fell in love with dance so quickly. The thing I cherish even more than the ability to dance is the work ethic they instilled in me. There was no other way. It was go hard or go home, and they had little tolerance for nonsense…which is an incredible influence for a wayward teen (as I was) to have.
An important aspect of a dance teacher’s training and career is Professional Development. It plays a critical role in the life of a dance teacher and their ability to provide quality dance education to their students. To be successful, dance teachers constantly need to to broaden their knowledge, improve their teaching skills, and stay up to date on research, trends, and development in the field. Professional development provides all of this, and more. Most importantly, the teachers can take back what they learn in their professional development to their studios, classrooms, and communities.
Why should you donate on #NDEOThankADanceTeacherDay?
Unfortunately, taking part in quality professional development can be a challenge for many dance educators. Often what is provided by school districts is not dance-specific, and teachers in universities or private studios have to seek out opportunities on their own. For dance teachers in all settings, professional development can be cost-prohibitive, especially when funding is not provided by their employer. NDEO is proud to provide access to quality professional development specifically for dance educators through its annual National Conference, Special Topic Conferences, and Online Professional Development Institute. These face-to-face and online learning opportunities provide dance teachers with access to the latest research and trends, tried and tested teaching methods, and valuable content that can be passed on to their students. Our professional development programs are designed and presented by leaders in the dance education field. Dance teachers who demonstrate both financial need and merit are eligible to apply for an NDEO Professional Development Scholarship. These scholarships provide a crucial opportunity for dance educators to advance their careers, benefit their students, and give back to the field in new and exciting ways.
What is the impact of your #NDEOThankADanceTeacherDay donation?
For Shawn Lent, a 2015 Professional Scholarship recipient, the scholarship helped her connect with the field after working abroad, and allowed her to give back in real and meaningful ways:
“After living and working overseas for a few years, I was struggling to regain a place in the U.S. dance education landscape. I knew the unique voice and perspective I had gained could be a contribution to the field, but I didn't know how to access the conversation. Years of volunteer work and life on an Egyptian Pound salary had made for an unstable financial situation; the NDEO Professional Development Scholarship was thus a crucial life-line, a way back into the national field. Since attending the NDEO conference last year, I have had a paper on "Inclusion Strategies for Conservative Dancers" accepted to the Journal of Dance Education, spoken at four universities, and have been pushed by my peers to expand my thinking and practice.”
For Terri D. Smith, Founder of the iMOVE Dance & Production Program, taking courses in our Online Professional Development Program (OPDI) gave her credibility and the confidence to teach in new and impactful ways:
In the after school care program that I started last year (iMOVE), I'm teaching students about the basic elements of dance, how to observe and comment on what they see in dance and they're learning how to create simple dance movements. They're broadening their understanding of the art form. And they are also able to make connections between dance and subjects they're studying in class, like reading, history and science. The Elements of Dance course was extremely helpful in shaping my knowledge and allowing me to share and teach what I've learned. In addition, I'm also starting to identify developmental needs in my 4th-6th grade students that helps me to teach them more effectively. And I wouldn't be as aware of the various stages and needs of my students as I am know if I had not taken the Developmental Domains course.
None of this would be possible without your support!
Please help NDEO in our effort to increase access to professional development opportunities for dance educators nationwide. At NDEO, we believe that “It All Starts With A Dance Teacher!” We have seen first hand how impactful a quality dance education can be for students, regardless of their gender, age, race or culture, socio-economic status, ability or interest. We know that dance teachers make that impact possible, and we exist to support those educators in their good work. On Tuesday, November 29, 2016 be sure to thank your dance teacher for the special role that they have played in your life, and “pay it forward” by donating to the NDEO Thank A Dance Teacher Fund so that more teachers can benefit more students by providing them with a quality dance education. You can donate here at any time before December 31, 2016.
To learn more:
Follow the hashtag #NDEOThankADanceTeacherDay on social media