As dance teachers, we have a unique opportunity to recharge and reflect on the past year's teaching experiences during the summer. It is a great time to analyze your teaching methods, assess student progress, and refine your lesson plans. By using the summer effectively to pre-plan for the upcoming year, dance teachers can enter the new season with renewed energy, fresh ideas, and well-thought-out class structures.Oftentimes we are moving quickly to the next thing and don’t spend time analyzing how things went or pre-planning for the upcoming season. Spending a few hours over the summer following these four steps will help set you up for a successful season and lighten your planning load once the season begins.
The first step in pre-planning dance classes and lesson plans is to reflect on the past year's teaching practices. Schedule time to evaluate the effectiveness of your instructional methods, choreography choices, and classroom management strategies. By asking yourself key questions, such as "What worked well?" and "What can be improved?" It is also a great time to identify areas that require adjustment or enhancement. Reflective journaling, seeking feedback from students and fellow teachers, and reviewing recordings of dance classes and routines can be valuable tools for gaining insight into strengths and weaknesses. If you find that you need additional resources to help you in a certain area, summer is a great time to get continuing education and take a course to help you improve your teaching skills.
The next step is assessing the progress of your students. Summer break provides an excellent opportunity to assess student progress and identify areas for growth. It is also wise to schedule time to review performance evaluations, attendance records, and individual feedback to gain an understanding of each student's development. This assessment will allow you to identify specific strengths and weaknesses, which can inform the creation of individualized lesson plans and goals for the upcoming year. We use a curriculum that is specific to our studio with an online syllabus component, so analyzing progress is quick as long as the work is done during the season.
With a better understanding of your own teaching practices and student progress, you can then establish clear objectives for the upcoming year. These objectives should align with the curriculum, goals and consider the age, skill level, and aspirations of your students. Setting specific and measurable objectives will guide the development of lesson plans that promote
Finally, schedule time to design comprehensive lesson plans that cover the entire season. Each lesson plan should have a clear structure, including warm-up exercises, technical drills, choreography practice, and end of class roundup. Be sure to create a balanced curriculum by alternating between technical skill-building sessions and creative exploration. Additionally, you can integrate performance opportunities, prop work, and community time into your plans to enhance your classes and foster a dynamic learning environment. If you have been teaching for a while, you probably have built out lesson plans. If that is the case, it is a great time to analyze how they are working and make small tweaks to make them even better. For me, teaching an entertaining and engaging class is important, so taking time over the summer to plan out how I am going to make the lessons fun and exciting for my students makes a big difference.
By utilizing the summer break to reflect on teaching practices, assess student progress, and pre-plan classes and lesson plans, you can elevate the quality of your instruction and create a more engaging learningexperience for your students. Additionally, taking the time to thoughtfully analyze the past season and set clear objectives will provide you with a solid foundation for the upcoming year, ultimately benefiting both you and your students .I prefer to schedule 45 minute time blocks in the morning during the summer to follow these four steps. It sets me up for success and ensures my classes will be entertaining, engaging, and my students will progress. It also helps during the season when things are busier to already have the classes planned.
If you have not pre-planned your lessons and classes in the past, I suggest giving it a try, even if it is just for one class. Maximize summer break and in turn you will maximize that class for the next season and help free up time for you during the season.
Pam Simpson is the founder, president, and driving force behind Forte Arts Center, which was established in Morris, Illinois in 1993. In addition to building her business from a small, one room studio to a large, multi-location organization that offers dance, tumbling and cheer programs as well as private music lessons, Pam is a leading force in the realm of small business ownership in the dance and tumbling industries as she travels all over the country speaking to and educating for large organizations such as Rhee Gold Company, Dance Teacher Summit, and More Than Just Great Dancing. When not working on her businesses, Pam enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her daughter, who is a performer at Walt Disney World.