Heading into a new year (or really what is "mid-year" for the dance season,) is just as exciting for dance teachers as it is for students. Everyone can benefit from the little bit of down time over the break which helps to re-energize and gear up for the remaining season ahead. Sometimes however, there can be a little anxiety with the thought of heading back into the studio in terms of lesson planning, finding music for the spring shows, coming up with fresh ideas for choreography and rehearsing for those shows as well as cleaning for competition.
With a job description that requires the pulse of creativity to constantly be flowing, how do we ensure we get back to work recharged and full of inspiration? Sometimes, we are lucky and we already have an arsenal of ideas in terms of lesson plans and choreography that is waiting to be unleashed. However, having the same kids year after year can either prove to be beneficial; in terms of knowing these dancers inside and out, but also daunting in terms of knowing what they are already capable of doing and challenging them. Also, knowing their level of motivation, excitement and consistency to work hard is a direct indicator of how excited you’re going to be to teach them.
We all love our dance students, whether company members or recreational and the expectations and goals we set forth for them and ourselves will really help set the precedent for all that follows and is accomplished year after year. Understanding and knowing what they’re there for will help guide them and you towards success. Below are some of my suggestions to think about when organizing your own lessons for the remaining year as well as preparations.
Good luck to you all for a great 2016! Here’s to success and fun for all!
See you in the dance studio,
1. Who are your students? Are they recreational? Are they company? How old are they?
2. How will you stay organized? Write your lesson in a notebook, keep a choreography journal, use an IPAD or tablet? What works best for you?
3. What level will they be entering this year? By the end of last season, how satisfied were you with their progress, individually and as a group? Did you accomplish everything with them you set out to last year? If not, what were the things you either didn’t get to or feel the need to revisit at the start of classes so you can proceed?
4. When reviewing your lesson plans from last year, how was the content? Was it appropriate for the levels/ages you were teaching? Was it cohesive and progressive? Conversely, was there too much content? Were there places to simplify?
5. Did you anticipate spending less time on certain concepts/choreography/technical vernacular, etc. only to find it took much longer? How will you adjust that this year?
6. In terms of technique, where will your initial focus be with certain classes? Will you map out a general guideline as to what your syllabus will entail for each class?
7. What other “lessons inside the lessons” do you hope to pass onto your students? Etiquette, dress code, collaboration, etc.?
8. In terms of classroom management style, what are your expectations for a smooth sailing, well behaved, focused, successful, hard-working yet fun spirited class week after week? How will you relay those expectations to new students in the beginning of the year and remind returning students of “the law of the land?”
9. Where did you pull choreographic inspiration from last year? How will proceed this year? Do you want to attempt fresh new styles and explore experimental movement with certain students? Are there classes where you feel sticking to fun, clean and basic technique will showcase the dancer skills in the best light?
10. Lastly, who are you as teacher? Who were you last year and who do you want to be this year? What is your teaching style? Habits, good and bad? How would you like to progress and challenge yourself this year so that you are evolving and growing alongside your students? What can you learn from them?