I want to share a discussion from a dance teacher about how you select a dance teacher. The funny thing is that her list of criteria applies any kind of service provider – a coach, consultant or trainer. For clarity, I have italicized her comments vs. my commentary on how it applies to coach, consultant or trainer selection.

Ask for the teacher’s education and certification, or other credentials.

Good teachers either have a degree in dance education or a certificate from one of the Dance Teachers’ Associations, or similar credentials. In other words, they have studied how to teach dance. In some states you are not allowed to teach without certification, either yours or your studio owner’s.

The coach, trainer or consultant should not be offended if you ask about their experience and credentialing. In fact, they should have it available on a public forum, such as a website or LinkedIn profile.

All good teachers can both lead and follow.

If they can’t do both, they shouldn’t be teaching (You can’t teach what you don’t know).

Nothing trumps experience, in my opinion. Sometimes coaches or consultants get trained in a particular process or method, but lack the experience or background in the area they want to specialize in. What I want to know more importantly is how have they used their knowledge or what experiences have they had that can help me with my specific problem. Certificates get you in the door, experience is what makes you relevant.

Once you have established that the teacher is experienced and credentialed, take a class or two with him/her before you make any long-term commitments.

Different teachers work for different students. Find one that works for you.

It is acceptable to give a consultant, trainer or coach an first assignment to see if you or the organization can or like to work with that person or provider. Sometimes the relationship between the two parties means more than other factors such as costs or convenience. If in fact you are wanting to try them out, pay them and forget about luring them for the bigger project.

The most expensive is not necessarily the best, though it often works out that way.

Don’t assume a teacher is good, just because they charge a fortune. Go through the steps above. On the other hand, you do get what you pay for. Free lessons are usually worth what you pay for them.

This is a lesson that many people or organizations learn the hard way. If price is your screen for finding coaching, consulting or training services, then count on making some bad decisions. Understand the relationship between price, quality and timing and how there is always a trade-off. Nothing replaces doing your homework on someone’s ability to solve your problem.

It’s OK to take lessons from multiple teachers, if they are all competent.

Sometimes it works better to have a couple of service providers, especially if you have different needs or requirements that cannot be met by one coach, trainer or consultant. If you find that your service provider is offended by your approach, you may want to ask yourself if that provider is working in your best interest.