In today’s world it is acceptable to think negative. I have had students tell me that some of the most popular kids are the ones who dislike everything and are negative about their peers who have success. What message is this sending to the youth of today? The good news is, we know better! And dance training will teach these children that a 'can do' attitude will take them so much further than any negative thought ever will.
As a dance teacher, I believe that one of the most important things we can do is to bring out the best in people—to have them exceed their expectations of themselves. That is a wonderful gift any teacher can give to their students. When you teach dance technique it can be used as a vehicle to do just that.
It’s all about the M.I.W. In past articles I have written about the phrase we use with our students. M.I.W. which stands for Make It Work and it is part of our 'can do' attitude that we promote at our school. I encourage you to help your students develop a 'can do' attitude with a fun catch phrase that you can use with your students. When you instill this important life skill in your students, they will move mountains and achieve great success, no matter what level or age they may be.
Get Rid Of "I Can't" Our students know that word is not allowed in the studio. If someone accidentally says it we have them grab the word out of the air and throw it out of the studio door... And then do 10 pushups! We tell them that no matter what they do in life if they say "I Can't" then they won't achieve anything. But if they try and work at it and believe they can do it, then they are half way there!
Master the management of failure. I think it is vital to create an environment that demonstrates that failure is not fatal! I like to tell my students about some of my own trials and tribulations and the different types of struggles that I had to work through. It is not the end of the world to make a mistake, and once our students learn this they will be less apprehensive about making one and will take more chances. We tell them that we have made mistakes when practicing a lift and, because of the mistake, ended up creating a new move. As a teacher, the tricky part is how we correct errors without defeating enthusiasm. Remember not to lash out too harshly when mistakes are made and to make a big deal out of any, even small, accomplishment. It is important for students to learn that mistakes are part of dance, just make them big, learn from them and move on.
Master the art of the compliment. Have you ever really looked into the eyes of a student that you have just singled out for praise? It is amazing how you can see into their soul as they listen with great glee to your words about them! Here are some tips on how to compliment your students:
1. Hand out compliments in public. Make a big deal out of it in class and tell their parents after class if you see them.
2. Use every success as an excuse for a celebration. We have students of the month posted out in the lobby and when someone in a class is consistently trying hard, the entire class will get a reward.
3. Put it in writing. Send a student home with a congratulatory card that you have handwritten.
Give students the motivation they need to succeed. Here are some phrases that we have posted at our studio and hand out to all students on cards during the year:
* It’s not your aptitude that determines your altitude, it’s your attitude.
* I can do whatever I set my mind to.
* I love how I feel when I express myself through dance.
And here is one that you can write to yourself to remember how children think:
'I have found the best way to give advice to children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.' —Harry Truman