Dance Teachers... Let's keep the spark for yourself and your students and ﬁnish the season strong!
Spring is in the air. The ﬂowers are starting to bloom and the sun is shining. The school year is coming to an end and spring fever starts to creep in for our students and ourselves. It is important to keep that spark going throughout the season, especially atthe end. As teachers, we need to keep the excitement and energy going in the classroom until the year end recital, but that can be hard for us to do. We all see the ﬁnish line and can go into auto-pilot to just coast to the end, but that is not what we are here to do. We are here to teach, inspire, and motivate our students. In this blog I am going to share a few tips on keeping that spark going for both us as teachers and our students so we can all ﬁnish strong.
Focus on the journey, not just the destination: Probably the most important tip is this. By focusing on the journey you are on with your students rather than getting to the end of the season gives you a totally different mindset. Remind your students that the joy of dance is in the journey, not just in the ﬁnal performance. Emphasize the process of learning and growing as a dancer rather than just the end result. By doing this, it will shift both your mindset and that of all of your students!
Incorporate fun activities: Organize fun activities in the classroom. When you organize a fun activity it gives you a spark of inspiration and excitement to plan it and makes your students excited to participate. Fun activities, games, contests, and dance parties are all great activities for the end of the year. This will also create a sense of community and help students bond with
Mix things up: Try to introduce new material, music, or choreography to keep things fresh and exciting. This will keep bothyou and your students engaged and motivated. This could be as simple as changing direction for your warm up, changing the warm up completely, altering how you go across the ﬂoor by moving diagonally, going with partners, or doing add on progressions. I always love to teach fun new combinations in class in the spring to mix it up. A little show and tell with other classes is a fun way to mix it up as well. Another all-time spring favorite is spring dress up weeks. We theme a week for spring and students dress up to come to class. We theme our playlists, lessons, and activities surrounding the theme. This is a way to get everyone involved and excited.
Set year-end goals: To keep both you and your students engaged, set achievable goals for yourself and your students. These goals can be related to technique, choreography, performance quality, or even attendance. Revisit these goals weekly and celebrate when they are achieved. I have found this
to be one of the best ways to keep everyone excited and engaged. Working toward and achieving a goal is exciting and rewarding. I always celebrate by taking a photo or video and posting on our Facebook page. I also reward the students with buttons or stickers. For myself, I reward myself when I reach the goals I have set too. Having something I am working toward with them helps keep me on track and focused on progress instead of just getting through the classes.
Emphasize progress over perfection: Instead of focusing solely on the end result (the dance recital), focus on the progressthat has been made throughout the season. Celebrate the small victories, such as mastering a difﬁcult move or perfecting a section of choreography. This goes hand in hand with the year-end goals. When you are focused on the progress of the students your mindset shifts and you are more motivated.
Encourage self-reﬂection: Encourage your students to reﬂect on their progress during the season. This works well with older students ages 10 and up. It is a fun exercise to have them journal and reﬂect on skills that they have achieved during the season. When we do this, I take out our syllabus and list skills that we have worked on or put the skills on a poster on the wall for them to visually see how far they have come. This will help them see how much they have improved and motivate them to continue working hard. For us as teachers, by doing this reﬂection, it keeps us motivated to keep working on progress of skills and making sure that we complete the skills that are on our syllabus before the end of the season instead of only focusing on the recital dance.
Finally, share your excitement. As a dance teacher, your enthusiasm for dance can be infectious. Share your excitement with your students and encourage them to share their passion for dance with each other. When you focus on being excited, having a positive attitude and teaching with enthusiasm the energy in the room changes. Your students will feel that and want to join in with
enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you go into class lacking excitement, your students feel that as well and in turn do not enjoy class, act up, and may even drop out before the end of the year.
A ﬁnal thought about keeping the spark as a teacher is to make sure you are taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat healthy. Take time to rest and recover so you can be your very best for your students and your family. Spend time planning your classes to keep them fun, exciting, and engaging as the season comes to an end. You will enjoy the end of the season much more with just a little shift in your mindset and some
Happy spring! Enjoy the ﬁnal stretch and keep that spark!
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.