I have had many years of experience in both situations. Working in a chain studio, you are a salesman first and foremost. Then you are restricted on what you can teach; for example if a student purchases a Bronze 1 level, you are required to stick within the BR 1 level material regardless of the students ability. If they want the advanced material, they have to know that it has to be purchased. There is a price for everything. I lost many students because of that thinking. As an "indy" you don't have the teaching restrictions but you have to really work on promoting yourself as a dancer and as a good teacher. I feel there are many people promoting themself as a s good teacher and they couldn't get you through a wedding dance. My preferance now is being an "indy"
Firstly... from a workaday point of view. At any chain school( And ive owned, managed etc, for them in the past ) your day is regimented, and if you like stucture, thats a good place to be..they do supply your students, and some schools have good benefits. Also, in larger cities, there is possibly good training, and the opportunity for travel. You are restricted to stay within syll. when teaching ( not necessarily a bad thing ) but.. they are all pretty much driven by "sales " .
On the Indie side.. you MUST be motivated on a daily basis, and building a client basis is never easy, no matter your experience. You also need to factor in costs, like floor rental and advertising..PLus you will need to keep on training, with good Prof. advice .
The foundation work one gains in an organised school, will become the lynchpin of your workdays ,if you go Indie..
I've worked in a franchise for 5 years and have no complaints. I'm sorry to hear that others feel like their job had a lot to do with sales. If you are a good teacher the lessons sell themselves. Also an executive should be stepping in to handle tuition.
Yes, you are structured in your teaching, but for good reason. Your technique in basic figures must be built in order to be able to execute advanced patterns correctly. Many basic figures are designed to set you up for patterns to come later. I have had many students come to me from independent studios that have been taught patterns from all different levels. Sure, they can replicate the foot placement but can't lead them in a social environment because they lack the ability to differentiate it from similar patterns that they should have learned first. This is not to say that all independent instructors teach in this format, but I have seen it many times.
As far as training, we are initially trained in house but have regional training with top coaches multiple times per year.
I have no practical experience in an independent studio, so I will not guess at something I don't know about.
"Yes, you are structured in your teaching, but for good reason. Your technique in basic figures must be built in order to be able to execute advanced patterns correctly. Many basic figures are designed to set you up for patterns to come later."
If only that were actually true.
A technique-foundation approach to dancing will use far fewer figures than found on even the shortest syllabus, with much more attention to the execution, and much more repetition and partnered practice time.
But, this requires teachers with far more personal expertise than studios are usually able to provide from amongst their employees. Working to master the basics under the guidance of teachers who aren't all that great at them either is not a sound investment.
The typical studio syllabus is instead designed to provide an enjoyable and slightly progressive variety of material which teacher trainees with a lot of support, but limited depth of expertise, can teach to students of varied degrees of interest.
The difference between a relatively unskilled teacher with good support, and a really expert one works out something like this: the unskilled teacher may be quite demanding about the details on which they have been trained - the kinds of things that can be put in a chart in a book and asked for on an examination. But they will not really understand how these aspects work together to create good dancing, and will tend to miss qualities that are even more important, but much harder to describe in words. This means that each aspect of a given figure is a unique and separate challenge to the student - and not uncommonly, one that is in direct conflict with some other aspect of what the student has been asked to do. In contrast, with a teacher whose expertise goes far beyond mere training, all of the detailed aspects of technique work in concert to support each other.
One of the supreme ironies is that most of the "bronze" level material, and especially its more varied forms as found on a syllabus which subdivides bronze into multiple levels, tends to be material where the "linkage" between the different aspects of technique is some of the most obscure, meaning its unlikely that even the teachers really understand it. Instead of the relatively simple, linear swings characterizing the "silver" material, you have a lot of sharper changes of direction which require extreme mastery of foot usage to connect along a swing.
The reason why the bronze material is as obscure as it is is that it is designed to be possible to dance without a sense of swing or flow, by students who cannot yet project their weight from the standing foot. Students normally begin to discover these concepts in the silver material, though perhaps somewhat crudely. Only after a lot of practical experience with the obvious linear swings and gradually refined control there is it really possible to go back and start to find the subtle little swings that turn the bronze material from a disjoint catalog of movements into flowing dancing. Trying to master a closed change or a whisk to that level of quality is definitely a project with merit, but a student is not going to get there without years of experience in the more "advanced" but simpler material, and the guidance of a far more expert teacher than is usually found working with bronze students.