A Group of Individuals
One critical element of a beautiful dance is synchronicity, when all the dancers meld together in seamless timing of movement. In those perfect moments, it is easy to forget that the dance is made of individual dancers. As teachers of dance, you influence each dancer and teach each of them about their individual skills and talent. Clear messages to each student about their strengths and weaknesses will remind them of the importance their individual role in the group.
While teaching a class, it can be challenging to highlight individuals. Yet, this is a critical role as a teacher. During each class, provide 2 genuine insights to each student. One insight highlighting a strength. One insight pointing out an area in ned of focus for improvement. State the insights you give as observable, objective and concrete. This will give a clear idea of what was good and how to repeat it or what was bad and what needs to be done differently in the future. For example, saying to a student, “Love the effort in keeping your arms straight” is a much more effective insight than “Love the effort today”. Similarly, saying “You are two beats behind in your timing” is a much more effective insight than saying “Your timing is off”.
If you are in the habit of giving group directions, as you make this shift to add individual comments, start with half the students in your class and work your way up to everyone. This practice will allow for students to see patterns in their feedback and who they are as individual dancers. Providing individual feedback is not to replace all group directions. The cohesion of the dance class/group is necessary for beautiful dances. It is about strengthening in the group and individual aspects of your dancers.
Knowing areas of strength and weakness for an individual student, allows you to highlight the big picture of where this particular dancers journey will lead. It gives individual dancer and their parents more of an understanding of who they are as an individual. Many parents want to know where their child is going and how to have them succeed to be the best dancer. The individual insights are a place to start conversations about personal growth and achievement. It helps highlight how each dancer is unique and places some of the onus back on the individual dancer for achievement. If overall your classes or dance school focuses on individual dancers, your dancers and families will start to focus on their individual journey.
PS- There is a great post entitled “We Are All Unique” on the Behavior and Beyond Blog – feel free to share it with your dance parents!
PPS-If you want to learn more about how behaviors work, a recording of a 60 minute teleconference I ran is available for free at www.BehaviorAndBeyond.net/signup-teleconference.