I remember sitting in class in my master’s program, I forget what my professor was talking about, but I do remember that I was completely lost. I have never learned well with a talking head, I need to see things, I need powerpoints, pictures, timelines, anything visual helps me connect the dots.
I spent many years feeling like a failure, I was embarrassed and thought I wasn’t smart enough. That was until I learned about learning styles. You see there are 7 learning styles, 7 ways people process information, and the problem is we usually teach from the learning style that we are most comfortable with, but being aware of the various ways to deliver instruction, meeting all learners in your class, will not only help you feel successful, but help your students feel nurtured, and grow.
Below are the 7 learning styles, and how to use them in your dance classroom. Once I learned of these gems, I made sure to incorporate them into my teaching practices, because I never want a student to feel like I did, less than, not smart enough, not good enough.
7 Learning Styles
1 -Visual (spatial):Student prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Teaching Tip: Bring in videos, pictures, objects to further explore the concepts you are teaching.
Example: If you are teaching the concept - contraction maybe you can bring in an orange and squeeze the juice out of it, showing your students the idea of closing and opening, or a video of a flower blooming.
2 -Aural (auditory-musical): This student prefers using sound and music.
Teaching Tip: This we do as dance educators all day every day.
Example: When teaching use counts, rhythmic patterns with your voice, etc...
3 -Verbal (linguistic):This student prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
Teaching Tip: Here is where you say the word instead of the counts - example plie, 2, 3, tendu. Basically interchanging the actions with the counts.
4 -Physical (kinesthetic):This student prefers using your body, hands, and sense of touch.
Teaching Tip: This is tactile, hands-on corrections where you guide the students through a correction using touch.
5 -Logical (mathematical): This student prefers using logic, reasoning, and systems.
Teaching Tip: This is for the student who loves to know and explain the why behind things.
Example: Let the student explain why plies come before tendus, and so on at the ballet barre. This can be done with any dance discipline, allowing the student the space to explain the “why” behind something.
6-Social (interpersonal): This student prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
Teaching Tip: Allow the student to work in groups to apply corrections, problem solve, create work, etc...
7-Solitary (interpersonal): This student prefers to work alone and use self-study.
Teaching Tip: This is the opposite of social, allow students to work individually, giving them time to process what is being taught.
I hope this helps shed some light on all the different styles of learners you may have in your dance classroom. The point is not to address all of these teaching styles in every class, but to be aware of them. If students aren’t grasping a concept, maybe it's time to change your approach. Every child can learn, it’s just a question of if we are reaching them.
For learning on the go check out “The Power of Do Now in Your Dance Classroom” Episode 57 of the Dance Boss Podcast Listen Now
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 classroom expert and specializes 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 onInstagram andFacebook.