However, the focus of even the most committed students can suffer when faced with a nonproductive environment. Dance teachers must manage the classroom environment properly in order to produce successful dance students. Here are five classroom rules that should always be enforced to help you build an atmosphere conducive to learning the art of dance.
Rule #1: Stop the chatter during class time
For many students, the classroom is the only opportunity they have to socialize with their group of dance mates. Yet, this is no excuse for chatting during class time and especially during a rehearsal. Chatter while an instructor or choreographer is teaching is one of the most damaging offenses to a constructive classroom environment. It is distracting; not to mention completely rude. Always enforce a rule that students abstain from chatter during class time as much as possible. This rule is the primary way that students can show the instructor or choreographer they are focused and eager to learn.
Rule #2: Break up the cliques
Friendships between students can prove to be beneficial and are usually encouraged. But, if you’ve ever walked into a new class and been given the “cold shoulder” by dancers who all seem to know each other, you’ve experienced how these tight-knit groups can be damaging to the classroom environment. Make your classroom more comfortable by breaking up the cliques. As difficult as it may sound, your students must let each other “in” to their circles so that the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere of the classroom can be preserved. You might remind them that the person they refuse to befriend today may be the future choreographer whom they find themselves auditioning for tomorrow.
Rule #3: Bring an end to tardiness
Chronic tardiness spawns from a poor student attitude.
Repeat offenders feel they don’t necessarily NEED to be punctual; that’s why they’re tardy. Allowing tardiness presents the danger that a tardy student lacking the proper warm-up may seriously injure themselves. In addition, tardiness affects the focus of the classroom. Late comers disrupt the classroom and can potentially throw off the entire session. Tardiness ends when dance teachers set a standard of punctuality and then enforce it. Explain to your students that tardiness is completely unacceptable. Find a way to reward students who are punctual to encourage that behavior. And require students plagued with chronic tardiness to be early by at least 15-minutes each class. The punctual students will appreciate you eliminating that distraction and the cured student will benefit by learning to be on time.
Rule #4: Enforce the proper attire
Whether it’s Jazz, Ballet, Salsa or Tap; it is always important for students to wear the attire appropriate for the class. This includes hair and shoes. Be sure to specify the attire for the classroom and hold your students accountable. Explain to the students that proper attire allows you to see body placement better. This way you can help the students perform to the best of their ability. For example, you may favor snug clothing over baggy pants so that you can see the dancer’s knees and correct their alignment more easily. Make sure cover-up clothing comes off at warm up and the students are fitted properly for each class.
Rule #5: Teach them respect
Disrespect is another sign of a poor student attitude. Students who are disrespectful are difficult to teach, if teachable at all. Allowing students to be disrespectful will ensure you have an unproductive classroom. Address issues involving respectfulness the moment they occur. And require students to show a high level of respect towards each other. Have students use courteous body language when communicating. They should make eye contact, listen attentively to instruction and display a positive attitude at all times. Teaching your students how to be respectful is truly one of the greatest deposits you can make into the bank that is their professional dancing career.
Teaching dance requires an environment where the art form can flourish. But it’s the responsibility of dance teachers to manage this environment appropriately so that students have an opportunity to shine.
Gerard Davis is an experienced dancer and avid dance teacher make sure to click the previous words