3 Reasons Your Dance Students are Losing Focus
By Erin Pride
You can have the best lesson plans, use great imagery, have to dopest combos, but if your spending most of your time putting out fires in your classroom are you really teaching?
First please know, I have been there. I had seasons of my life when I did not understand the importance of setting up clear structures and systems in my classroom. I (for some strange reason) thought students were able to read my mind and would know exactly how to conduct themselves when entering my classroom.
Well, as you probably know, that’s just not the case. Just like a relationship with a partner, family member, friend, we have to constantly share our needs, wants and desires. We have to teach people how to treat us, by setting boundaries, and reminding them when our boundaries are not being honored.
The same goes for our dance classrooms. Students need guidance, they need to know what is expected of them. When we fail to do this, students lose focus, they become disengaged, distracted. When you do not tell students what to do with their time they do what they want, not what you want.
Below I am sharing what I like to refer to as my “Universal Classroom Management Systems.” These systems can travel with you from class to class, studio to studio. Just remember the key to implementing these systems is repetition. Just like repetition is the key to developing a solid technique, a key component in having successful classroom management strategies is consistency.
- Room Entrance and Exit - What happens within the first 5 minutes students are entering your class? Do they enter and run around the classroom until you yell stop running? Are they on their cell phones? Chatting it up with a friend? Do you have to remind them over and over to do something? When leaving the class do your students make a mad dash to the door, and leaving items behind?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s totally OK it only takes a second to create an entrance and exit strategy. Here’s an example: entrance - when entering the class students sit by the desired wall, when the teacher cues, students then put cell phone in cell phone box, and items in bins, students then enter center floor, and begin warming up, or sitting until the teacher calls students to take another action. The exit can be similar, think about each step the students have to go through from walking off the dance floor, to collect their items, to exiting the class, and then make a system for it, and practice it consistently.
- Call to Action - This is how your students know the class is beginning. A call to action can be as simple as raising your hand, and when students see your hand raised they know they must raise their hand, stand, and get ready to move. Or once students see you in front of the room they know it's time to get into the starting position. A call to action can vary depending on your personality, teaching style, or studio culture. The key here is to explain the call to action to your students over and over again and practice it over and over again.
- Attention Grabber - I love attention grabbers, and this system has helped me stop yelling, and grab my student's attention in a way that is tied into what I am teaching. An attention grabber is a way you get your student's attention, moving away from the energy-draining cues such as, stop talking or pay attention. Some examples I love to use in my classes are - I clap once, you clap twice - I keep repeating this until all of the students are doing it and I have their eyes and ears (this also helps with introducing students to rhythmic patterns). Another idea- say freeze, and talk the students through a slow-motion 30-60 second improvisation exercise, once all students are engaged, say "thank you and now that you slowed down a bit let’s get back on track" (this helps reinforce listening skills, and touches on improvisation.).
Do you have an entrance and exit strategy, call to action, an attention grabber that you love to use? Leave a comment I would love to hear.
If you like this, then I think you will love the free 4 days live virtual training I am hosting for high school dance educators, to learn more visit https://erinpride.com/
Erin is your personal dance education coach. Jersey girl all the way, she graduated from Montclair State University with a B.F.A. in Dance and received her Masters in Dance Education from New York University. Erin is a dance classrooms expert and specialize in lesson planning, unit plan design, and curriculum creation, as well as classroom management strategies. She has over a decade of experience teaching, writing curriculum, and developing programming. Erin is the Director of a High School Dance Program in New Jersey, and the Host of the Dance Boss Podcast. To learn more about Erin visit erindpride.com, and you can hang out with Erin on Instagram and Facebook.