While the West Coast Swing "league" (social dancing, events, and comps) is still waiting to be reopened, smart WCS teachers are taking advantage of this time to reassess, refresh, and rebuild their teaching practice.
All around the world, the local teachers are the new champions, rebuilding the scene at the grassroots level. That’s what we specialize in - supporting local teachers with tools, training, and resources so they can teach smarter and grow their communities.
So for World Teachers Day, we are excited to share with you a 3-part series to help you plan now to come back to teaching after COVID stronger than ever.
But first let's recap...
The 3-part series for teachers to rebuild
In Part 1, “How smart WCS teachers can prepare now for post-COVID”, I described how I started my journey in teaching, coaching and teacher education. I had a brilliant mentor coach named Taimi who inspired me to develop a coach training system which was published when I was 16. I’ve been building systems for education and sport ever since, and the impact it has is incredible.
In Part 2, “Top priorities to refresh & rebuild after COVID”, I was describing how I started my WCS teaching career and did my due diligence by going on a quest to find a WCS teaching system, which was ultimately fruitless. I found many great teachers teaching great content, but I didn’t find the critical Skill Development or Pedagogy I was looking for. So I decided to use my background in education and sport to build one.
Part 3 is the video below for WCS teachers where I explained how we developed the Swing Literacy Teacher Development Program, which I believe is the most comprehensive and effective teaching system in the world. Then I guide you through an exercise to reassess and reimagine the 3 top priority elements of your teaching practice that will make the most difference to students. In this article, I summarize the video and give you the Rebuilding Brainstorm Cheatsheet I mentioned.
Here's that Part 3 video:
What is on most teachers minds these days is obviously safety, but after that is rebound.
Something we can expect to see after COVID is a surge of people looking for live social interaction hobbies, and WCS is perfectly positioned to fit the bill. But in order to really capitalize on it, it would be smart to optimize your marketing and your systems now to be able to attract new students and retain them.
So have you considered how can you position yourself for rebound? Start with evaluating your systems and brainstorming possibilities.
How we built the Swing Literacy system
Short story: 20 years ago, I was armed with a full resume as a school teacher and professional swimming coach when I first started dancing WCS. So when I decided to start teaching, I did my due diligence and went hunting for a system, a formula for teaching WCS, but I didn't really find one.
While I found many amazing teachers and content, I was surprised not to find some key essential elements that make any teaching system more effective. So I used my training to build my own system based on these elements, and have curated it, expanded it, and refined it over the years so that we can train any teacher to help their students learn WCS smarter, faster, and easier.
Myles (who was already a Champion by that time) and I collaborated to take the industry standard WCS-specific content that we mined from decoding top WCS teachers and analyzing great dancers, and taught it using the pedagogical best practices I had been trained to use, then added the special sauce of progressive skill development.
Since moving online in 2009, we have trained over 400 teachers live and remotely in our digital courses, most of whom have reported the same awesome results from Day 1 that we did: the secret is the unparalled comprehensive system.
How you can be a grassroots hero of WCS
2020 sent the global WCS community into hibernation, like a gardener pruning their garden for winter. But spring is coming, and the first to blossom after the frost will be the small groups in local communities. This is where WCS will come back to life first, which will set the tone for how the global community rebuilds. Serious superhero potential!
Local WCS teachers are now starting to be able to teach live again, albeit with restrictions. It’s still not full strength though, and it will be a while until events will be allowed to run again.
The silver lining here is that this is the perfect time to upskill your craft: You have more time than you did before COVID due to lacking social dancing and events, and your student base is nice and small due to number restrictions - yes, I said nice and small! The perfect size for experimenting with new systems.
Students these days are so happy to be back in class that they are super patient and accommodating for new procedures, so now is the perfect time to introduce them to new methods at the same time.
This is the time for your makeover - haircut, weight loss, nose job, etc. Me - I got laser eye surgery! This is the perfect time to give your teaching an update too - reassess, redesign, and rebuild your teaching practice the way you've always wanted to.
So at 23-minute mark of the Facebook Live video, we do an exercise to help you assess what your teaching practice looked like before COVID, and then brainstorm what is possible and what you would like it to look like going forward. Kinda like a mini-audit.
But as I explained in Part 2, here I zoom in on the 3 most impactful elements of a teaching system that any teacher should prioritize: Current Content, Pedagogical Best Practices, and Progressive Skill Development.
In the video I mention a cheatsheet which contains ALL of the Rebuilding Brainstorm questions. You can find that at the bottom of this article.
Keep reading to get a cheatsheet of the complete set of Rebuilding Brainstorm questions.
Where to get answers to fill in the blanks
Make no mistake, these are massive fields of study and not things you can simply check off a list. For the past 20 years, these are exactly what we have dedicated ourselves to curating and perfecting for West Coast Swing.
It’s totally understandable that you will not have all the answers to these questions - they are not a test - only meant to prompt introspection and give you a launching point to reassess the most impactful aspects of your teaching practice.
But what we do in the Swing Literacy Teacher Development Program is answer all of these questions and help you design your ideal teaching practice so you can help as many students as possible progress as fast as possible and keep their passion for WCS! We give you a optimized system you can follow that so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch to make your teaching more effective.
"Finally, a relevant PRO invented a digestible system... no need for us to reinvent the wheel and develop our own from a mish mash Frankenstein collection! (unless you WANT to go through all that unnecessary rigamarole). For myself, since I did go through the labor of creating a program, it was still invaluable. It helped me to see where I had holes or where a different sequencing was needed."
"I am so thankful I invested in the Swing Literacy Teacher Development Program. This course is as developed and in-depth as college courses I have taken online. It has given me the confidence to know that I am presenting my students with all the tools they need to dance WCS authentically and effectively. I have already had great feedback from students telling me that they are finally learning connection, elasticity, and other vital techniques that often get skipped in other classes. To anyone looking to get certified to teach WCS, this comprehensive program is the way to go!"
We are excited to hear about your new plans! Feel free to comment below or message us on our Facebook page.
Once again thank you to all the teachers out there for your invaluable work during this epically challenging time.