Why You Can't See My Lesson Plans

As a dance professional, I subscribe to a few different professional groups. Some are on Facebook, some are blogs that I frequent, but one thing that I’ve started seeing more and more (that I totally can’t stand) is teachers asking to see other teacher’s lesson plans and curriculums.

What the honest eff you guys?!

I realize this might seem like a harsh overreaction, but hear me out on why I find this so irksome.

To me, this is the equivalent of someone copying my test questions that I studied really hard for. I put in the time and effort and research and hard work to ace this test, and I’m NOT going to let someone who is less prepared leer over my shoulder to copy my work.

“But Katrena, this isn’t high school or college and I’m not copying anybody’s work. Chill out!”

Oh contraire, mon frère. If you’re asking to look at my work without also engaging in a conversation with me about why I chose to organize my lesson the way I did, and what the benefits are of the progressions I used, and why I used specific music or props or incorporated partner work during a specific exercise, than I feel you are completely missing the point (and art) of proper lesson planning; you really might as well be copying. In the same way we ask our dance students to be accountable for their actions, progress, and behavior, us dance teachers need to be accountable for our process and methods.

And here’s the real and honest truth: I have no problem whatsoever with teachers or other dance professionals asking my thoughts, opinions, or how I would approach something in dance. I am completely happy to share my experiences and knowledge, and I love learning from others and hearing what you’ve done that works. But I’m not down with giving away the recipe without having a chat about the history of it, why I use the measurements I do, and how tasty the finished product will be.

The second part of my beef with this seemingly harmless request is that it feels like it reinforces the starving artist complex and doesn’t allow or encourage teachers to value (and charge) for their work. When I see a request from one teacher to a group of teachers to see their lesson plans or curriculums, my internal (and sometimes verbal) response to them is: “Nope! But you sure can pay to see them!” I offer curriculum building for dance teachers and studios. It’s a skill set I’m proud to have and offer to the dance community. When we ask our fellow dance professionals to give us something of value for free it only feeds the pervasive belief that artists shouldn’t be paid for their work. And that’s some bull.

So please, I beg of you, don’t be the person who asks without thinking. Let’s get thoughtful about what we’re really asking for, and be willing to have conversations instead of easy answers. We teach our dancers every day in the studio that the only person who can show up to get the work done and improve is themselves. Now we need to apply that same teaching to ourselves. Let’s ask, talk, value, and treat our services the way we wish others would.

Agree? Disagree? Continue the conversation with me on social media!