Summer has arrived! This dance season has ended or is coming to a close. Competitions and recitals are basically over. Your small dancers are most likely getting excited about getting out of school and summer adventures that are coming. You need to ensure that classroom etiquette and positive behavior practices stay in place through the very last class and continue throughout your Summer Session. Here are 5 tips to ensure that will happen:
(1.) Remember that understanding where the excitement is coming from is not an excuse for inappropriate class behavior. Remind your small dancers that you understand it is an exciting time of year and that it is important for them to continue do their best. Define in concrete and objective terminology exactly what their best is (having strong arms through each dance or eyes forward when at the barre or tall still bodies while watching other dancers in the class do a combination). Repeating 2 or 3 simple overarching rules in the beginning of class will help your dancers stay on track.
(2.) Keep things positive. Look around the dance room and notice the positive behaviors that you have cultivated over the past year. Give yourself credit for teaching some incredible skills to your small dancers. Remind them of how wonderful they are doing with specific praise. You are likely to see an increase in these behaviors if you keep reminding them what they are doing right and how they can do even better. Your students want to succeed and achieve, this tip helps point them in the right direction to do so.
(3.) Be a model of the behavior you want to see in your classes. We, as adults, also get summer fever and want to enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather. If you are asking your small dancers to work hard, then you must also. Make sure you are showing up for class really ready to teach and focused on what is at hand. If you are not, how can you expect your dancers to be?
(4.) Give them time to celebrate and share the changes that are coming in their lives. Create an opportunity for when your dancers can celebrate the end and transitions and connect with each other as friends on this social level. Tell them exactly when this time will be. Maybe it will be the last 5 minutes of class for the next three weeks, maybe the last dance class of the semester will be a party or maybe you create a time right after a class for this connection to happen. If you give your small dancers the space and let them know when it will be, it makes it easier for them to focus on dancing when in class.
(5.) Mean what you say and say what you mean. This is the most powerful behavior tool. Words are important and you are in control of what you tell your small dancers. The integrity of your word leads to your students to know you are consistent and reliable. The directions you give and the expectations you hold are all in your control. If you are going to ask them to practice one more time, then make sure you mean it and make that happen. If you say they need to do it until it is perfect, define perfection, so that your dancers can achieve it. Whatever you put out to your small dancers, make it be true!
With these tools in hand you are ready to have a fantastic end to your dance school year and a fabulous launch to your summer.
PS- There is a great post entitled Summer Excitement on the Behavior and Beyond Blog – feel free to share it with your dance parents!