Development Series, RA Dance Blog, Teaching Tips

New Year, New Rules (For Class)

I have a little problem. I’m not very stern with the children I teach. My teaching style is relaxed and friendly, as I found this the best approach when I was growing up. But as I spend more and more time teaching the same students, they too are becoming more and more relaxed. This means they are; 1. not putting in the effort, 2. getting distracted very easily in class, and 3. not really showing me the respect of even listening sometimes! In an effort to get my classes a bit more controllable I’m going to start implementing some rules.

I know the transfer to no rules to even just a few rules will be a little bit of change, not just for the children but for myself. But I am hopeful that everyone with adapt and really grow from these changes. While I want to foster a loving and friendly environment, I’m also really cautious that sometimes this doesn’t truly reflect what it would actually be like as a dancer. For one during classes with top choreographers it’s unlikely that you’d be able to simply go ‘I can’t do that’, and not even try!

So onto the rules, these are coming from a complete place of pretty much no rules. As I’m not the owner of the schools I work at I struggle to really feel like I’m in charge and able to make the rules. But I’m going to make a stand and encourage the children to be a little more respectful of their dancing to both themselves and to me.

1 – No phones in class. Once you’ve started class phones should be away, on silent. They’re only to be taken back out if we need to call someone or if we need to video something so you’ve got your own copy of the routine.

2 – Try everything that you’re asked. No simply stating you cannot do it, we need to try these things first, and understand what we’re doing when we try them.

3 – Once you’ve finished something, stay in your end position. This bugs me so much, the second they’ve finished they’re walking all over the room chatting. I’m going to incorporate a 3 seconds wait at least I think, it will also help with my judgement of wether the moves looked good or not, as at the moment everything looks messy!

4 – Chatting and gossiping is for breaks, when you’re in class you focus. We don’t need the constant chatter to remind each other that we’re all friends, give yourself some time to work on yourself.

5 – Listen out and respond back if you’re listening. There’s a few call and response options going around and so until I find one that I like, I’m going to bounce between a few. The first will be ‘hocus pocus’ ‘everybody focus’, I say the first half and then the dancers are to respond with the second. Another may be, ‘1-2-3 all eyes on me’ ‘4-5-6 my hands are on my hips’.

6 – Hair is to be tied up securely. If you’ve doing your hair right it shouldn’t need to be done 20 times during your 45 minute class. Have it up and off your face so you’re not distracted while your learning.

7 – Wear the right clothing for each dance genre. Leotards and leggings are to be worn for acro and contemporary jazz. Jeans should not be worn for any lesson.

8 – Support each other during every class. If someone is struggling a little bit, don’t keep forging ahead, give the teacher time to help them while you go over it at a slower pace.

This list isn’t very exhaustive, but I think it should be general enough to help give the children structure to their lessons, and can be used for all the genres I teach. At the moment I’m tempted not to do a punishment/reward system but am also wary that by not doing so it gives them no incentive to actually take heed of these new rules. What do you find works best when introducing new rules to your classes?

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