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Classroom Management


Teacher article



The best time to get control of you class is right in the beginning of the year by setting the tone with a list of rules, regulations, guidelines or any other name you want to give it. If presented in a positive way, they will, for the most part, be happy to follow the ground rules you set forth. Have your students sit down in each class, preferably the first one they take and go over each important matter you would like to have in place.

It is also recommended that you give them a print out of the rules to bring home to help the parents understand that it is not a free for all and that you are not just a babysitting service. Some of the topics we like to talk about are: proper grooming and class attire; no gum chewing in class; no talking (this is a big one to get across); the importance of being on time and paying attention; how to respond to correction and not to take offense when one is given; respecting teachers and fellow dancers. I am sure you will come up with your own laundry list of pet peeves when you do this. This is the first step in gaining control of your class and letting them know that there are boundaries. Students do respect them but will try to push beyond them. You can then revert back to the guidelines and remind them that everyone is expected to follow the rules.

Dealing with that one problem child is always a tricky situation and must be dealt with carefully. If a student is reprimanded I always like to follow it up with a smile shortly afterwards so they now it is not personal. Once they start to see that you mean business and that the guidelines are to be followed they will start to get with the program! Sometimes parents will come in and say "you yelled at my child " ! You cannot remember doing so and you probably didn't but the student's perception is that you did. So how you reprimand the student is very important. Try to focus on the behavior not the person. Let them know before the class is over that you do not hold any grudges. we hope! You can achieve this by saying something good about something that they did well during the class, even if it is a stretch!

A business consultant once told me that before you can give someone a correction at work you must first give them 3 good things to hear! It's the 3 to 1 theory, this is pretty hard to do all the time but I have found that when students like you and feel that you think they have something special, they are eager to please you. If you don't have the benefit of starting at the beginning of the year then I would recommend that you teach the first class and make mental notes throughout of things that you don't like or feel that are not conducive to the learning process. Then approach the studio owner and ask if you can set some guidelines to help the students learn faster and have a more pleasurable experience. Then, sit the class down and set the new rules in a fun and upbeat manner. I never like to make it sound like they are going to jail! I have been to studios where things are so out of control I don't know how the teachers can stand it! If you are spending too much class time reprimanding it could be a sign that you are losing them and it would be a wise idea to stop the class and calmly go over the guidelines again and again if necessary. Sometimes the only thing left is to dismiss a child from the class. This is always dramatic and will pull the whole class into focus. I would recommend talking to the one that was asked to leave the class before they leave the building and letting them know that their behavior will not be tolerated and that if it happens again they may not be allowed to take your class anymore. We all know that some classes are great and they always do the right thing. We also know that there are some classes that you just want to pull your hair out, or theirs! But you can get them in order just by setting guideline to keep them in place and keep using them to refocus the group as needed. Good luck!


Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Steve and Angela have owned and directed their dance studio in Fairfield, CT for the past twenty two years and in 2005 added music and vocal classes to their curriculum. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, Steve continues to adjudicate and teach for major dance organizations. Recently taught at the Interdanz conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, He choreographs for theatres, television and conventions and DValda & Sirico are currently in production choreographing the opening to the National Speakers Association convention on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis for August of 2008. Steve is co-owner and director with his wife, Angela, of the website Dance Teacher Web designed as an online resource for teachers worldwide.

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