Finding the Best - How We Recruit Perform Teachers
When Perform parents feed back to me about our teachers, they consistently use the same vocabulary to describe them. 'Nurturing', 'energetic', 'inspiring', 'amazing' are words that come up again and again. Considering there are 250 of us, I find it such a joy to hear parents echo exactly the qualities that we look for.
But then finding the best people is something that we spend a lot of time on. We work hard to recruit the most fantastic teachers we can for our classes because, however good the scripts, songs, games and dance are, we know it’s having the right person teaching that makes the difference. It’s the individual connections that they have with the children that make Perform special.
So how do we find our teachers and how do we train them?
Well, firstly, we are very picky about which CVs we accept. We only consider actors, singers and dancers who are performing arts graduates. Not only is it important that they are properly trained but we also need them to be ‘triple threats’ – they must be able to act, sing, and dance.
Then we hold a workshop audition for potential teachers. As well as checking their singing, dancing and acting abilities, we also get them to lead a drama game so I can see how they deliver it and, importantly, if they have the right energy for Perform.
If we think that they have the Perform sparkle and talent, they are invited to watch some Perform classes so that they see the style and format of what we do firsthand. After that, they attend a Basic Teacher Training course where they learn from our team of Area Partners exactly how we teach. We’re very specific about the methods we use and despite all our teachers having wildly different personalities, we all possess a similar teaching style that we know gets the best out of the children. Behind the scenes at this point, we’re also gathering references and running DBS checks. In their final training session, the teachers undergo a Health and Safety training session from me too as the safety of our children is paramount. Then, once our new teachers are ready, we send them off into the world of Perform, with their first few sessions supervised by an Area Partner.
But training doesn’t stop there. Each week at HQ, we run 'Refining Training' so that the teachers are improving their teaching skills termly – a bit like a CPD. And, every term, we all meet on a Sunday and sing and dance for 6 hours, making sure we all know exactly what we are teaching for that forthcoming term.
The only downside to recruiting a pool of incredibly talented performers is that inevitably some will leave us for acting work. But we team-teach all our classes in pairs so that, even when that does happen, we’re still able to provide continuity for the children.
When I recruit, I always remember my days as an actress (a long time ago now) and often say to interested teachers, 'This isn’t a little bit of teaching that you do in between acting jobs. If you’re not passionate about passing on your skills and inspiring children through the performing arts, then this isn’t the job for you. However, if you’re looking for the most fun and rewarding job in the world, that stretches your skills daily, and you want to change children’s lives, then it really is.'
And finally, I’ve picked out this parent’s comments (just one of many) because it exemplifies exactly the kind of impact we hope our teachers will have on the children. We hope all our Perform children enjoy classes as much as Connor!
'You fill Connor's six-year-old heart with complete joy each and every Saturday morning, so it was no surprise to us that he chose Aled as his favourite person when the 'hero' email arrived from school.
And he's not shying away from the idea of giving a presentation either. Quite the opposite, in fact; he simply can't wait! Your influence is strong.'