For returning and prospective Classroom Assistants,
If you have not already done so, please submit a letter to us expressing your interest in becoming a classroom assistant. This letter should include:
Why you are interested in assisting this year
How you think being an assistant may benefit you
Why you think you are a good candidate for the position;
what skills you have that may be of service to our students and their teacher
The age groups and dance disciplines you are most interested in assisting
Your available days and times
Once the schedule settles into place and we see where we need help, we will match you up with a class. Returning assistants get first preference. If at first there is no class that needs an assistant during your available times, then we will keep your name on our list in hopes that something does eventually open up for you. You will remain on the list as a substitute assistant if all positions are filled.
Classroom assistants must be age 12 or older and be studying dance with us at an Intermediate (level V or “Silver”) or higher level.
To assist with Playtime Dance, Preschool Dance, Kinderdance, and Ballet, you must be enrolled with us in Ballet.
To assist Basic Dance you must be enrolled with us in Ballet and Tap.
To assist a Jazz I, II, or III class you must be enrolled with us in Ballet and Jazz.
To assist a Tap I, II, or III class you must be enrolled with us in Tap. You must also be enrolled with us in an Adv Beg or higher level or Ballet or Jazz. (for upper body placement, turns, arm positions, etc)
To assist a Kids’ Hip Hop class you must be enrolled with us in Jazz and Hip Hop.
Gain leadership experience
Gain a better understanding of how important dance fundamentals are and how they should be taught
Learn teaching techniques that encourage cooperation, focus, and discipline. This may help you if you ever decide to become a teacher yourself one day!
Reaffirm and strengthen your own dance technique and foundational building blocks
Enjoy the enthusiasm, innocence and joy of younger children
For your first year of assisting, there is no compensation. You would be assisting as a volunteer. This is considered your initial training period and, as such, the teacher is teaching you to assist. Because she is training you that first year, it is actually sometimes more work for the teacher to have an assistant than to not have one at all!
For subsequent years of assisting, you may be compensated via tuition credit. The more years you assist, the greater the dollar amount is. This means that the work you do as an assistant helps pay for your own dance education! This helps relieve your parents’ financial burden and helps you become more responsible for your training.
Since most schools require a certain number of volunteer hours for graduation, you may instead choose to continue assisting on a volunteer basis. Be sure to bring in the proper forms for us to sign so that your school will have verification that you did indeed put in the hours that you say you did!
Being a classroom assistant provides you with wonderful teaching skills and, in fact, is essentially an apprentice teaching or teacher training program. As such, you may be asked (if you are age 15 or older) to substitute a class on occasion. This is a huge responsibility and I trust you will not take it lightly! It takes a great deal of maturity, confidence, organization, preparation, experience, leadership skills, and focus to be an effective teacher. Because of the level of responsibility required, I prefer to have an adult teacher sub. But when one is not available. I may turn to my older, more experienced assistants to do so.
Further, because we are investing in you by providing you with teacher training, it is not acceptable for you to use those skills in any other program in the Sarasota or Lakewood Ranch areas. Teaching or assisting for another organization in the same areas as our Studios would be considered not just a conflict of interest, but also disloyal and unethical.
The same holds true for your post Studio of Dance & Music experience. Students who have been part of our assistant program are prohibited from teaching elsewhere in the area. We have no problem with you using the skills you have learned with us outside of the area (say, if you go to college in Orlando or Gainesville and work for a studio there). In fact, we would encourage you to do so and would even be happy to supply you with advice for those future teaching opportunities! However, teaching in our area for a program that could in any way be considered competition for our studio is strictly prohibited.
We expect that you will always set a fine example for other students in the Studio.
You are a role model for them and they do watch you and follow your lead!
We expect our assistants to:
Arrive a few minutes before the class start time
Look over the lesson plan (if the teacher provides one) so that you know what to expect
If applicable, look at the attendance sheet to see whose turn it is to be line leader
Ask the teacher if there is anything specific that she needs you to do prior to class starting
Follow the teacher’s directions and model for the students a respectful attitude toward her
Learn the students’ names and greet them when they arrive
If they are under age 8 (Playtime Dance, Preschool Dance, Kinderdance, Basic Dance) ask them if they need to use the rest room before class starts
Treat students with kindness and dignity; be friendly but not their “pal” or “buddy”.
Speak to children with loving but firm authority
Be careful not to overstep your authority though (in other words, the teacher is the “head honcho” - follow her lead). If you are not sure about what you should or should not do, be sure to ask the teacher for guidance!
Help students with tying shoes, fixing hair, etc. If they need to leave the room to get a drink or use the rest room, help them if needed, or check on them if they don’t return to the classroom within a reasonable period of time.
Comfort a child who gets hurt; encourage a shy child; bring a distracted child back into focused attention
Help with “crowd control”. That is, help to arrange students in a line or in two lines as the teacher indicates; or organize them into groups for across the floor movements.
Help with handing out stickers or newsletters at the end of class
At the end of class, make sure all young children get into the hands of their parents! If a child can’t find her parent, stay with her until she does, or take the child to the office and ask the office staff to call the parent.
Dress appropriately for the dance discipline (Playtime Dance, Preschool Dance, Kinderdance, Basic Dance, and Ballet should follow the dress code for a ballet class; Jazz and Tap wear attire as listed on the “Classroom Attire“ sheet for those disciplines)
Wear hair tied up securely
Treat parents with courtesy and respect
Answer parents’ questions or, if unable to do so, refer them to the front office or to speak with the teacher.
Demonstrate dance technique and steps as accurately and clearly as possible
Listen carefully to the teacher as she instructs to see if you can improve your own technique while assisting
If the teacher asks you to lead a particular exercise, speak clearly and use enough volume when giving directions so that the students can hear and understand you!
Help the class and the teacher at rehearsals and performances.
Pass on your own enthusiasm and love for dance!
If you are unsure of what the teacher expects of you, please speak with her directly.
I look forward to a wonderful year and appreciate your desire to be of service to our teachers and to our youngest students. Please let me know if you have any questions.