Preparation and organization are perhaps THE most important factors to determining a successful year of teaching. Even before we get to classes and setting choreography, the way in which we enter into a new year will directly correspond to the success of the content one is trying to teach.
Dance teachers have a difficult job because we are not only relaying information to our students which we hope they mentally absorb, but there is also an expectation regarding the physical execution as well. Always trying to develop, “thinking dancers,” the synthesis of both the intellectual and verbal content alongside the kinesthetic is a feat in itself.
So how can we as dance teachers develop the best approach to set our dancers up for success? Lesson-planning in the K-12 arena is definitely more exhaustive what with state standards to be addressed, outcomes, objectives, developmental age info for appropriate content, etc, to be included in the structure, but….there is no reason why studio teachers can’t take a nod from the K-12 system to use the same principles within their own teaching. The following are a few of my own suggestions to get you on the right track so your thoughts, goals and expectations are clear for yourself before they are clear to your students:
- **What are your long term goals this year? Where did you leave off last year and where do you hope to take your students this year? When June rolls around, what are the “big-picture,” accomplishments you wish to achieve?
- **How will you deconstruct those over-arching goals into “units” of content? What are the general topics you wish you cover this year? How will you achieve the “outcomes” of those curriculum units?
- **What will your weekly lessons then look like? What are the specific, targeted “objectives” you aim to include within those lessons?
- **What music do you need/want to accompany these lessons? Can you organize set play lists?
- **What materials would you to use to enhance the learning experience (i.e. props, books, videos, etc?)
- Think about how you work best. Is it better for you to lay out a whole year’s worth of material at the beginning of the season and follow it the best you can OR do you prefer to leave some “wiggle room” in there to improvise or go-off tangent if need be? Think about how “by the book” you generally go about things;” keeping in a realistic mind that EVERY teacher should anticipate to get thrown a few curve balls during the year. If you do have a more “fly by the seat of your pants” teaching-approach, that’s great too! That is an essential trait teachers need to have; to be able think quick and adapt to the classes presented in front of them. BUT…..as good as you are at thinking on your feet, there is still not one teacher who won’t benefit from at least some sort of general preparation prior to the start of the year; either before the season starts (if you know your students already) or immediately after meeting new students the first couple weeks of class. Even then, a general road-map can still be in place. Minor revisions can then be adjusted along the way if need be!
Good luck to you all this season!
See you in the dance studio!