Teachers, you may have noticed an over-abundance of ailments, injuries, illnesses, etc. from your students lately. Sometimes I walk into the studio and feel like I’m taking the first five minutes of class to greet my receiving line of students waiting to tell me what is wrong with them that day.

Now, let me preface this discussion with in no way should we as teachers, especially of dance be dismissive of injury or illness for that matter. However, there is a fine line of which injuries are ones dancers are able to work through and which are not. But, the more I see “selective injuries” come my way, I’m determined to address it and manage it before it really gets out of hand.

So what do we do? How do we as teachers and studio owners address the legitimate things going on and show concern but reign in the injuries which are manageable?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Have a meeting with your students. Remind them that it is always important to tell teachers what is going on with you physically if there is a problem. But ask them to self-reflect. If they are continually injured, ask them first, why is that happening? Are they working properly in class and if so then what could be the culprit? Secondly, ask them to really think about what injuries are workable and which are not. While they may need to adapt some of the warm-up, choreography, etc. for the time being, are they able to dance? Now if your student comes in with a broken foot, obviously not, but if they are suffering from a small dose of tendonitis in their hip….they must also learn ways of working through things. Again, all about balance and working smart.
  2. The “selective injury.” This is a popular one. Be on guard for those dancers that come in with the injury and “need” to sit out. You agree, and then magically come time for rehearsal that dancer comes to you with, “I feel a little better, I think I can dance now.” Sorry kiddo, if you can’t do technique warm-up then you shouldn’t be able to learn choreography in rehearsal. While this is also a little bit of testing boundaries, stay firm on this, because the truth is if the dancer really does have an injury you going to do even more damage with them not warming up and then jumping into rehearsal.
  3. The “repeat violators.” This is the one where the same kid comes in week after week with something wrong with them. After about three or four classes in a row, start documenting in the attendance book what was wrong with them and that they sat out for a class. This could be an indicator of something else that is quite serious going on, so keep note that way if a parent meeting is necessary you can show them the sequence of events to get to the bottom of things to find out what is going on with the child.
  4. Request the “doctor’s note.” If you are getting to the point as I am where more than two children are chomping at the bit to tell you their latest injury the second you walk in the door week after week, during your class meeting let students and parents know that again, it is imperative that your teachers are informed of injury and illness, however, doctors notes are now required so we can keep note of what the diagnosis is.
  5. Time well spent. If a dancer is sitting out of class, do not allow it to be a free hour to sit and do nothing. There are plenty of lessons they can still learn by observation. Have them take notes on the class lesson, have them notate choreography; give them an anatomy diagram to fill out, etc. At least if they have to sit out, they can keep their brains activated and get the most out of their lesson!

Good luck to everyone! Stay healthy!

See you in the studio,

Jess

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