Dance is a beautiful, dynamic, and expressive art form that touches our hearts, connecting us to music and emotion on a visceral level. To those who are swept away it is much more the ‘just dance’. We dedicate our lives to the art form – whether performing, teaching, or creating. It becomes a part of who we are as people. Because of this personal connection to dance we tend to become tied our ideas and methodologies, so much so that perhaps our expectations are a bit unreachable on occasion.
We may even take ourselves a bit too seriously at times. 🙂
As [dance] educators, whether teaching preschoolers or high school students, we need to remember that not only are we molding the technique and artistry of our young dancers, we are also molding their minds via our role as educators. The words we choose, or do not choose, directly impact students’ self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.
So does that mean that giving correction and criticism is wrong/damaging? Short answer, No. Constructive criticism and correction is entirely appropriate when given and taken in the right context. It is key to ensure that correction and constructive criticism is given with a purpose.
Why do we correct? Because we know that a particular student or group is able to do more and accomplish more within their technique. If we didn’t see the potential, we would not push students toward more specificity, more artistry, more performance, in their work. We want you to be the best that you can be!
A group of 5 yr old creative movement students reminded me that there is an important exchange occurring between both students (of all ages) and teachers. It’s an important exchange that is worth paying attention to in our teaching.
Filling up the buckets.
It was a Saturday morning and the conversation with my 5 yr old class went something like this …
(Me) “H, why are you sad today?”
(Little H) “No one filled my bucket today!”
(The entire class of 18 ) “We have buckets too! Our teacher says that when you do/say something nice to/for someone that you put a little happy into their bucket.”
(Me to little H) “You know, when you put some happy into another persons bucket you are also receiving a little happy in your bucket too.”
(Little H) “Yes! I did do something nice for someone else today. My bucket IS full!”
Later at the end of class…
(Me to the class) “You all were so patient today while you were learning your recital dance. Good job!”
And everyone in the class, as if on cue, held out their hands like little buckets to receive their compliment. On this particular day my bucket had been feeling a bit empty, but as they left the room I felt like my bucket was suddenly over flowing.
(Cue the sunshine flowing into the room and my heart melting… )
It is crucial that we, as dance educators, ensure that we are making the time and effort to fill the buckets of all of our students, everyday. The individual work of fine-tuning technique with confidence and the enjoyment of dance is directly connected to the joy we all feel when in the studio. This fullness is what carries each of us (student and teacher alike) through the days/moments when maybe we aren’t so positive or are maybe struggling with the work.
How can we do this via our teaching?
- Taking the time to acknowledge the effort students are putting into their work – whether they have accomplished a step/task or are still working on it.
- Taking the time to recognize and acknowledge an effort to change behavior or to make a better choice.
- Helping a student find other ways to be a part of class when they are injured.
- Acknowledging that what they are working on is challenging and that they are doing a good job at working through it.
- Or maybe it’s a simple “thank you for working so hard today!” at the end of a class.
Some things to avoid.
- Sarcasm –whether it be in jest or within a correction. Sarcasm can be easily misconstrued and taken to heart.
- Poking fun.
- Making up names for students, though [probably] only done in jest this puts the students in an uncomfortable position and negatively impacts self-esteem.
The moral of the story? How we choose our teaching words can give or take away the joy our students feel through dance. And when we give our students joy – what an amazing gift we receive in return. The Best!
Author: Jacqui Davidson
See?! AD4L really is still online! Life has been a little crazy lately and well, sometimes life takes priority over blogging. It happens. But don’t dismay! A newsletter is in the works and today is a NEW POST inspired by some amazing and energetic 5 yr olds.
Hope you enjoyed it!
Have a beautiful day.