The Rule of 3
Doing something you’ve never done before can be intimidating.
A couple of years ago, I decided to audit a hip hop class. Most of the students were college freshman. Then there was me, a senior……citizen.
The first day I had to make myself be okay with moving across the floor. That’s the part of class when it’s you and three other dancers and the rest of the class is either waiting to start or waiting and watching on the other side. I had to dig down into my ego place and let go of my fears about public risk-taking.
It was hard to come back to the next class, but I made myself do it.
By the third day, I got into the groove. During the semester I learned to loosen up, get more grounded, and expand my identity beyond “modern dancer.”
Not only was it a pivotal experience for me, but I also earned the respect of the freshman class.
Similarly, our students may start by being intimidated or slow to embrace the new things we are teaching. This creates chaos, such as acting out, laughter, or non-compliance. In classes with youngest children, some may sit out, be reluctant to enter the room, cling or cry.
However, by Day 3 this dynamic has shifted. The little girl who wouldn’t enter the room without Mom is now pushing Mom out the door. The little boy who wouldn’t take off his shoes and socks is now relishing the feeling of bare feet on the floor.
For us, the teachers, the Rule of 3 also applies. The first time I teach a new activity, my delivery may be a little clunky. I haven’t yet figured out the fewest, best words and movements to demonstrate the skills. By the third time I teach that activity, the flow is better and I have clearer expectations for the outcome.
How does the Rule of 3 apply to becoming a creative dance teacher?
The first time I taught Anne Green Gilbert’s concept-based approach and lesson plan structure – and this was after 20 years of following my own methodology – I felt like I was wearing borrowed clothes. Having children say the concepts aloud was new to me, as was including a time for constructive resting. I had to trust the act of leaving my comfort zone so that I could grow as a teacher.
The upshot is this: be patient with yourself, your students and the process. It takes a while to get comfortable with “the new.” But the courage and perseverance is worth the reward, for students and teachers alike.