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Fear in Teaching Belly Dance; Its Necessity & How to Handle It

One of my favourite educators for the craft of teaching, Parker J Palmer says: "After thirty years of teaching, my own fear remains close at hand. It is there when I enter the classroom and feel the undertow into which I have jumped". 

If after thirty years of teaching experience, one of the world's leading luminaries on teaching still feels fear - what hope do we have to avoid the pain of feeling this way in class!

I would like to say that it is not only natural, but appropriate, to feel fear when teaching.  For the very simple reason that we hold our students' self esteem in our hands. 

When I was a young teacher developing the Belly Dancing from the Heart Method, a lady came to my Wednesday night class. After class she came to me rather emotional and said something to the effect of "Thank you so much for the way you teach. I never felt judged by you once (and she was right - I never judge my students in my head, ever)... you know, I tried Belly Dancing classes years ago. One day my teacher said in front of the class that my arms were too long to look beautiful dancing. I never went back, I was so devastated. I had grown up my entire childhood ashamed of my long out-of-proportion arms. I'm so glad I had the guts to try again, I loved this today with you."

I am flabbergasted as to why anyone in their right mind would do something like that. But it's not the right mind that is needed here, it's the right heart. 

This is why we need to have some degree of fear, or in the very least a caring, concerned presence in class. 

The next level from there is to not become our fear. Whatever went through that teacher's head that day, it had to have been fear based. It could be that the student wasn't doing what the teacher had repeated five times already, so that triggered her insecurity as a teacher, and that then fired off a belittling comment to the student.... such things happen in classes all the time. It is human nature. 

If you pass the words that are about to come out of your mouth, via your heart first, edit them, then release them, you won't inflict any pain on your students, you will infuse your class with that undeniable but oh so intangible essence of love, and you will keep your integrity and protect your students in the long run.