BE AVAILABLE AND APPROACHABLE
The most successful instructors are those who make time to talk with and become acquainted with their members. Be sure to arrive early (10 - 15 minutes prior to the class start time) so that you can be available for your students. In addition to being available - be approachable! Make sure that your students know that you're open to their comments, suggestions and ideas. Be available after class to chat with them also. (Of course, if another class is going on - go outside of the room to chat so as not to disturb the other class!)
RE-INVENT YOURSELF OFTEN!
Whether you've been teaching for one year or ten - we all get stale and need to rejuvenate our classes. If you're bored with your class - just imagine how your students feel. As a Director, I often hear the complaints from members - a plea for new music or new choreography. It doesn't take too much to make them happy. Consider the following....
Be sure to change your music at least once a month. If you don't want to invest in more music - re-arrange the sequence that you use your music. Use 1/2 of one tape and then 1/2 of a different tape to get a new feel to the class. Switch it around for the next class and continue to surprise them with music. Consider a theme day and borrow a tape from a fellow instructor - maybe you'll have a country theme one time and an oldies theme another. Many of the music companies have produced an "American Theme" tape (after the onset of 911) which would be great for Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day!! (I don't recommend that you use theme tapes over an extended period of time because if the member doesn't like that "theme" - they'll hate your class!)
It's hard to find time to develop all new choreography all the time - when time is a crunch - just re-arrange or change your current patterns. Try doing the 2nd group of choreography 1st and the 1st group or block 2nd! Or - do the choreography facing the front of the room and repeat it facing another wall. My favorite is to split the class in half and have the right side of the room perform the choreography on the right lead and the left half do the pattern on a left lead and then we switch - this makes it very interesting because the traveling patterns often go towards and then away from one another!! You can also just change the #'s of your movement patterns - for example - instead of always doing 2 grapevines - just do 1 - or do 3. Think about changing the rhythms or emphasis of your current patterns - it's all so simple yet it makes a big difference in the feel of the class.
Another way to re-invent yourself is to write single movements (such as v-step, grapevine, step touch, march, etc) on colored flash cards (one move per card) then select different colored flash cards and write methods to vary choreography on them. Select an odd number of choreography moves (5 is good) and then 3 variation cards. Combine the movement patterns in the sequence you drew the cards then add the variation changes (such as lever change, directional change, rhythm/speed change - 1/2 or double time, elevation, range of motion, arm movement patterns, etc. to the moves! This method forces creativity!
Write your choreograhy patterns in a journal so that you have materials to reference when you're feeling stale or burnt-out. You may want to place them on cards so you can scramble the cards for a new sequence and new choreography!
When you can't figure out an easy change - ask another instructor to come and co-teach with you (maybe they'll invite you to do the same). This makes the class very interesting for both you and the members. You can have them do the 1st half and then you finish or vice versa. My favorite is to have each other do a surprise "add-on" class. (This can only be done with experienced instructors!!) To do this, instructor A begins with a "piece" (could be an 8-count, 16-count or even 32-count phrase) and then instructor B adds on to it. Then instructor A adds on and so on. It's a challenge for the instructor and great fun for the class. This is especially nice for the holidays when you're looking to do something different.
Theme classes are fun for occasional variety in the classroom. Tap into the holiday themes, cultural differences, or make up your own special themes. If you don't have any great ideas - ask your members to provide some ideas! Some suggestions - beach day (bikini tops, sunscreen and sunglasses), Hawaiian luau, country, patriots day, Halloween, Irish vs. non-Irish, etc.