Scaffolding Your Dance Classes
By Erin Pride
Picture this… It’s Monday evening I did a HUGE grocery shop the day before, yet here I am at 6 PM staring into my fridge reviewing all the amazing food I bought and all the possibilities...Yet… I Have No Freaking Clue - what to cook! (can you relate?)
It’s a first-world problem, I know, but it’s so frustrating!!
But then, It dawns on me…I did ZERO food prep on the weekend. I basically set myself up for failure and a case of the fridge gaze…
The same can be said about our dance classes…
I’ve been there. I’ve had the best dance class ideas, combinations, and choreography but didn’t have a clear plan, and thus it was kind of an epic fail...
When we have a clear plan, your meal, your dance class, and your life become a whole lot better and thus, more enjoyable for you and your students!
Okay, enough about food...Let’s talk DANCE. Today I will walk you through the concept of Scaffolding to help you plan and execute amazing dance classes!!
When it comes to planning my classes, something that has helped me immensely is a strategy called Scaffolding. This strategy helps structure your classes in a way that helps your students learn while saving you time.
Before I embraced the magical world of scaffolding, my teaching practices were….a little chaotic. My students were not consistently motivated and my lesson planning was a nightmare!
Now, it's not the sexiest thing to talk about, but when you adopt this strategy of scaffolding, it not only saves you time and energy, but it consistently helps you keep your students motivated and engaged.
Firstly, what is Scaffolding?
Now, I’m not talking about a building scaffold per se, but the same idea applies. Stacking concepts on top of each other to reach a result. If we were thinking about a building, it's stacking the bricks on top of each other, making sure they are aligned and support each other so that the whole building is strong and supported.
So how do you use Scaffolding for dance classes?
It looks something like this... Taking one concept and stacking it onto the next, and each week introducing a new element of the concept.
Here is an example using Pas de bourree:
Week 1: Introduce Pas de bourree
Week 2: Introduce Pas de bourree with arms
Week 3: Introduce Pas de bourree turning with arms
Week 4: Introduce Pas de bourree turning traveling with arms
How to do it?
- Establish your foundation with the goal in mind. What is your goal? For your students? the lesson? the warm-up or combination? Do you want students to master technical skills or combinations for an exam? Learn choreography for a recital piece? Have a clear picture of your ideal end result.
- Then, stack the material you are working on in class one at a time to meet that goal. Try to break it up into weeks as seen above, or even throughout a term until you reach the end result.
Breaking up material when teaching new or challenging movements for our students is not only practical but optimal for learning and memorization.
Scaffolding is beneficial for a few reasons:
- It helps you lesson plan
- Keeps you on track with the curriculum, as well as student benchmarks
- It helps to reduce overwhelm when your students are learning new concepts
- And is a great strategy for building other projects such as recitals
This has helped me so much when planning my dance classes for my students. Preparation is key!
The same strategy carries with my meal prep. I no longer look into the fridge and glare into the abyss of groceries (well...most days) but I now see a Tupperware with pre-cut veggies and fruit or some leftover lasagna ready to be heated! I am prepared and this puts me at ease; with my meals, with my dance classes...with my life. And you can do the same!
I hope you enjoyed my tips for Scaffolding your Dance Classes!
Remember, you don't have to make up the whole thing. I just plan one class at a time and add on for the next class. It’s about building a foundation and scaling from there.
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 on Instagram and Facebook.