Friday, December 16, 2011

Holidays are here - give yourself a break and your staff too!

Hopefully, you have set some time aside in your calendar for the holidays. Perhaps you just finished your holiday performances or are just gearing up for the spring show. Either way, as dance teachers it's really tempting to move your "to do list" into that small class break timeframe.

I want to encourage all dance teachers to take a break! Even it it's just a day or two. Take a real break. Don't do paperwork, don't choreograph routines, don't run errands, don't order costumes. Just stop.

Stop and listen to your heart. Stop and spend time with family. Stop and do something fun for yourself. Heck, just sit on the couch and watch the fireplace flames dance if you can. Relax and disolve your thoughts of work. It will be hard to sit still at first, as teachers we are used to going a million miles a minute in two different directions.

Taking a break, even a brief one, will help you be more efficient later. So schedule a break, set the day - time for it, write it on the calendar, program it in your phone. Tell people you have the day off.

Whatever it takes do it and protect it.

Consider it a gift to yourself. The gift of time. Enjoy!

P.S. This is easier than it sounds. I dare you to try it :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's the little girl in the back row, back corner that needs the most help

I've been teaching dance since I was in high school. I've observed a lot of recitals, classes, workshops in my time and it continually amazes me that teachers can do a few simple things in the studio that can make a huge difference to the quality of the dancer's learning experience.

Here are a few tips:

Watch for the student in the back row, in the corner... that will be the student who struggles the most. As a teacher it's imperative that you find away to get that student up front or to the middle of the room. If they are so shy they don't want to step up closer, you must at least move yourself closer to them - demo the steps twice - up front and then move yourself back to their "safe space".

Check for right handed - left handed students. As a teacher it's not always apparrent if a student favors a side. Normally, I always teach a combo to the right foot/side and then we reverse to left. Sometimes students need to learn it first on their strong side from a mental standpoint. Physically they are often balanced but "getting it right" might mean starting on the left for the left handed student. Teachers need to be aware and let the students show their strengths in the best way possible.

Welcome each student at the start with roll call process - make it fun. I like to have students state their name and tell me something else like their favorite color. Talking out loud is important and you can scout out the shy ones that will need more attention quickly with this technique.

Its imperative that you learn their names! Do whatever it takes to memorize the names yourself and make sure any class helpers do too. Avoid calling all of them "sweetie" or "honey" - force yourself to learn the name. If you can't then use name tags.

Repeat what they learned today at the end of class. Do a quick review.

These few teaching techniques will help you have a successful class!

Releve' Dance Poster sample

Releve' Dance Poster sample
sample of poster