Teaching dance should not just be focused solely on the teaching of technique (where students copy or reproduce movements according to teachers’ instructions). This is especially true when we’re talking about teaching how to dance socially. Here, the “social” part is equally important as technique. The first thing we need to address before anything else is to make sure that we create a positive learning/teaching environment in class.
Before we go into it though, we’d like to let you know that we’ve created a series of articles with ‘4Teachers’ tag to support our fellow instructors. We are aware that a lot of us are coming from a non-teaching background, so we hope that you will find some of the articles useful.
To create a positive learning/teaching environment, we need to make sure that the:
- Teaching is supportive, encouraging and non-threatening
We need to eliminate fear from the classroom. For many people, it is quite an achievement in itself to attend a dance class, any social environment could be daunting. It is our job as their instructor to make sure that it is a safe and fun environment for all students to learn how to dance in.
- Goals are clearly stated
At the beginning of every class, we need to state the goals for today’s lesson clearly. This way students know what to expect and can focus on achieving those goals. Emphasise correcting things that are aligned with the goals and relax on those that aren’t strictly relevant to the goals.
- Students respect the rights of others to be taught and to learn
Classroom dynamic is really important and we need to extend this understanding to the students too, by making sure that they respect other students in the class. For example, instead of teaching the students throughout the entire lesson, we could provide some direction during part of the lesson, and then let the students be in control of their own learning and work with their peers.
- Students are given equal opportunities to learn and develop their dance skills
Sometimes we come across a student in the class who demands more attention than other students. We need to make sure they understand (and see) that everyone is given equal opportunities. Not just the good ones and not just the ones who are struggling the most, not just the leaders and not just the followers, also not just the loud ones and not just the quiet ones either. Everyone is equal.
- Teachers encourage students to accept reasonable challenges and to take risks with teacher support
Do not give in to lazy students who aren’t interested in taking more challenging tasks. Give them a generous amount of encouraging praise leading them to accept reasonable challenges under your supervision.
- Students support each other in challenging or risk-taking activity
Encourage students to acknowledge other student’s achievements. Create a certain camaraderie within the classroom.
- Cultural, gender and age differences and different physical and learning abilities are reflected in fair and inclusive teaching/learning practices.
This is very important and instructors need to lead by example by implementing inclusive teaching/learning practices. Pair people together to make a point and learn how to execute the task differently for example, say how to lead a turn with a much taller follower. Or encourage learning leading/following for men or women.