RA Dance Blog, Teaching Tips

Start of Term Checklist

It’s the first week back for many of the dance schools I work at this week and so I thought I’d share a list of things I try to get sorted and ready to start term on the right foot. This list is not exhaustive as I’m sure I’ll go back this week having not done many a thing. But it should be a good start to making sure the first week runs smoothly.

1 – Know your schedule
This seems like an obvious one, and there may not have been many changes since last term. But make sure you know the order and the length of each class. This will avoid waiting parents or overruns in the class and will help you be prepared for the lessons you face that day.

2 – Charge and update everything
Any devices you only use for teaching are likely to have become a little neglected over the summer, and as such may need charging or have various updates to do. If you use any subscriptions services for music you may also need to re-authenticate/download the music if the connection to your account has lapsed.

3 – Bring contact information
You may have the information for many of your students already, but be ready to give new students a contact form, so you’re able to contact someone should they fall ill or injure themselves. There may also be a need to update all of your students information as numbers may have changed, or email addresses updated. Check in with the parents and try to get them to give you their most recent contact details.

4 – Registers
I think everyone is struggling at the moment to know exactly who will be at their classes come the next term, with children having so many activities open to them. The best thing to do is have a list of who you think should be there, leaving space to add more. Then you’ll know who to contact if they don’t turn up and who needs to pay for the lesson.

5 – Find one key piece of music for each class
This one takes me so long, it could be a song for a routine, or a song for a certain exercise, but having a song that suits the class well will help immensely. Especially when you have to fill out a playlist for that class alone.

6 – Set goals for each class
Exam, Competition, Expression or Technique. Each class could have a totally different goal, think of something that will benefit each class, as well as compliment other class goals. For example this term I want Senior Street Dance to work on their arm-ography and Senior Tap their presentation. While both groups need to work on both things I’ve separated them, many of the students go to both classes so will learn a from both and (hopefully) put them together to improve their dancing as a whole.

7 – Have a rough guide for each class
You probably already have this in your head, but write it down somewhere. Then if you get into class and ten minutes in you’re like ‘what am I doing today?’, you can look at it and be reminded, warm-up should finish about now, now to work on turns, then grade work followed by a routine. It can be as rough or as detailed as you want. But it should be usable.

8 – Set the holiday dates
Yes, you’ve only just gone back, but setting these dates and letting people know them will make everything run a little more smoothly.

9 – Document the first week
You’ve probably already advertised but let everyone know how much fun the students have had this first week. It might help fill some extra slots, or simply increase everyone’s visibility of your dance school.

10 – Have fun
The first week back is hard. Anxiety about who’s coming, what they have/haven’t done over the holiday, injuries they’ve picked up, dealing with parents again, and much much more. Just hang in there and give yourself a little bit of fun, maybe get each group to do a little game or organise a little trip for yourself when you’re not working. (P.S. that means you have to give yourself a little bit of time off).

There’s just 10 little tips to help kick-start this term in the right way. I’m hoping you all have a great first week back after the holidays!

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