Hello From The Top Family and welcome back to another blog post! Today we are having our first teacher tips blog post of the year with a discussion on how to establish an advantageous, healthy bond with the students in your dance classes! Being a dance teacher is such an influential role to play in a student’s life whether child, teen or adult. The studio is where progress is made, bodies are challenged and even sometimes where tears are shed. As instructors, we hold the responsibility of being the foundation of their education. However, it goes so much further than just eight counts. It’s all about the way we grow these dancers both physically and mentally as they go on this journey. So today, feel free to come along with us as we talk about a few small, but effective ways to establish a healthy connection with your students. Let’s go!
- Pay Attention To Them…For Real.
Tip number one is to be sure that you stay present and pay attention to your students. Not just in focus, but really see them for who they are and who they are growing to be.Pay attention to the way they learn, their technical strengths and their insecurities. Now, while paying attention to every single student may be a bit tricky (especially if your class is on the larger side), putting this method into action is actually far easier than it sounds. As time goes on, you become used to your class regulars and that is actually where the connection starts. You don’t have to ask them questions or try to pick their brain. Simply just pay attention to the subtle things such as the questions they ask, the concerns they express and always keep your eyes moving to see where they excel. Observation is key to an instructor.
- Make The Atmosphere That Of Safety
Now we’re not saying that you have to throw flower petals at the beginning of every class (unless you’re into that!). Creating a safe place for your dancers is simply your class being a source of positive energy. Even when the nature of the class is that of “let’s get down to business”, positive energy is something that doesn’t have to be compromised based on the situation. Dance is expression and a source of vulnerability for millions of people. Keeping the energy of your class pure is not only something that can aid in the release of those elements in your students, but it’s something that can be set in place, and controlled, by the instructor of each class. Set the tone to produce prosperous results.
- Know When And How To Establish Tough Love
Well, let’s go here, shall we?
Tough love is a teaching method that has been in the art of dance for decades. It’s a method that says “Unless you’re hard on your students, they won’t be the dancers that they are meant to be”. And while in some cases, tough love is necessary, this method can begin to do more harm than good as time goes on. The conversation surrounding this teaching method has been regular in occurrence in the dance industry over the last few years, and I really believe that the conversation is necessary. While tough love undeniably helped me in areas where I needed the extra push, I know for a fact that if my teachers had implemented this to the point of toxicity, it would have broken me. And that is the point that I am trying to bring out.
This method of teaching has broken a lot of dancers.
However, This is where you can break that pattern in your own classes. By knowing when to be tough on your students and when to be constructively chill. You can correct the posture of a dancer without making derogatory remarks on their body. You can right a wrong, without being insulting and just plain mean. Instead, add construction with encouragement. Compliment what was done right and then move onto what’s wrong. And if you have to give down right straight no chaser criticism, do so with respectful communication. You can attract more bees to honey than with vinegar and this will not only make your students appreciate you, but also respect and trust you.
- Be Transparent
And lastly, another way to create a special bond with your class is by basically being an open dance book. For example, one of the things that always soothes the mind of my newer students if they are making mistakes while learning a piece is admitting that sometimes, I still mess up too. I’ve been dancing for literally as long as I could walk and will still mess up a routine from time to time to this day. I can even go one further. The choreography I’m most likely to mess up on…is my own. Once I express this, they breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that they aren’t the only one that experiences these hiccups and they go forward with more confidence. It’s the little things like these that can make student’s feel more comfortable and in tune with you during class. Even as instructors, we aren’t perfect and by letting the humanity of ourselves show, we prove to be dancers who are still growing just like they are, instead of big bad judges. And that is enough to make anyone comfortable.
We thank you so much for stopping by and hanging with us today! We hope these tips were able to help you as you continue to grow in your journey of being a wonderful dance educator! Until we meet again, have an awesome weekend and remember…