We can all agree, giving corrections and assessment to your students can be a delicate thing. Long gone are the days when dance teachers used to just call you out by your name and tell you bluntly what you were doing wrong in the middle of class.

Funny, how my generation loved that kind of attention. Any attention from the teacher was good attention whether it was the rare compliment or a tactile correction. It meant and was understood that the teacher noticed you and was taking an interest in you, your talent and your progress.

Somewhere along the way in recent years, some of this new generation of dancers doesn’t see critique quite the same way. Perhaps it’s due in part to the inundation of assessment that they are dealt with in school and at home. Unfortunately in this day and age, there is now a palpable sensitivity and somewhat of a thinner skin. With the world being consumed to be “PC” all the time, it’s hard to know where the boundaries are and when they are crossed.

My question is, “when did correction become a bad thing?” When did it come to mean you weren’t good enough, or the teacher “hates” you or you’re being picked on? When and how did that mindset come to be? And, why in general as a culture do we tend to associate negativity with critique. There is some explanation that is not occurring and some miscommunication that needs to be resolved. It’s essential for teachers to always remember to be as transparent with their students as they can, so they have the full capability of comprehension.

So, why not with this? It’s time to get students to understand that correction is par for the course. If they had no room for improvement then why bother coming to class? Even the most decorated professionals get corrected. The difference is how we take those corrections and what we do with them. It also has a great deal to do with the tone, delivery and the manner in which you make those corrections. Positive reinforcement is essential, but being direct and to the point is OK as well. It’s a balancing act. Remember how you perceived your teachers. As a result, be aware of that and remember every student is different and may need varying approaches in order to understand the lesson you are trying to teach them.

But remember, as a teacher, your job is not only to give correction but enable your dancers to understand that these tokens of love come from a place of good intention and experience. Reminding your students that receiving corrections from faculty should be looked as a gift, not as a sign of failure. This is the first step to ensuring your dancers have the most positive experience in the studio. 

To take it one step further, you may want to encourage the behavior and etiquette norm of having your dancers say “thank you” to a teacher after receiving a correction or answer to a question. It’s a good habit to instill and creates a constant reminder for them that they are being recognized. They are fortunate to have someone taking such a vested interest in their future and it is your responsibility to remind them that you are there for them; to teach, help, guide, support, mentor and yes…..correct them from time to time. Explain that each correction is a new bit of knowledge being offered to them that they can take with them to build upon their training and education. The more they know, the more they will succeed and that is a gift nobody will ever be able to take from them!

Good Luck!

See you in the dance studio!

Jessie

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