Thoughts on Teaching #2: The First Day of Dance Class

Our lab program meets Saturday mornings. We run two rooms simultaneously.  There are generally 12 children in a class, who have chosen to take this class (self-selected). After our first day with the children (ages 4-5, 6-7, 8-10) here were some remarks I made in response to my college students’ comments.

Building Trust and Emotional Safety

  • Get on your students’ level, physically (particularly important with younger children). Go ahead, squat down!
  • Give them something to do right away (we always have interesting props set out on yoga squares so everyone can go to a spot and find something as they come in the door)
  • Be enthusiastic and supportive
  • Be honest and caring
  • Show interest
  • Be loving
  • Never be afraid of your students. You are the Alpha dog in the pack!
  • Give freedom within structure, which conveys permission to be expressive
  • Consider the “V” of freedom. Start narrow and gradually open out. (As with good parenting).
  • Plan activities that help kids get comfortable with community (like sharing yoga squares with more than one person) and a get-together, welcome, name song
  • Be flexible with the shy kids; the transition may be harder on them. But expect that by 3 days into the semester, they will have adjusted. (although our class rule is no parents in the room, I make an exception for the separation of that one child on that first day).
  • Make sure all voices are heard (call on others besides the raised hands)
  • “No” is a ‘wall’…..look for ‘window’ options instead. “No” is reserved for safety and boundaries (such as it’s not okay to hurt yourself or other people in class)
  • Learn and use students’ names frequently. We take pictures of every child wearing a name tag the first day, then never have to use name tags again.
  • On Day #1, the room should be creative, but structured enough not to be overwhelming. Otherwise, with too much freedom, issues would arise.
  • Set boundaries and expectations the first day, and have an easier time thereafter. Example: Always give instructions while students are seated.
  • Establish audio cues the first day that indicate “clean up, time to warm up”.  My go-to instrument for the start of class is a recorder (block flute) upon which I play a series of 3 simple motifs based around the notes B-A-G.  Each motif guides students to pick up, put away, find a spot for warm up.

 

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October 6, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Lesson Plan Organization, Studio Teaching, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series, Transition Magic.

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