You know it’s coming....Observation Week.
For caregivers, this is the opportunity to observe their child’s classes, witness the progress they’re making, and catch up on the latest studio news.
For teachers, this is the week of our career that takes a close second to the pre-recital nightmares of performance week. If history teaches us anything, our students will act as if they have never stepped into a dance class, caregivers will “teach” their child from the sidelines, and we will feel the pressure to be perfect. The room is a buzz with chit chat, cell phones ringing, and younger siblings running amok. It’s not necessarily a week we all look forward to each season. In fact, inviting caregivers into our safe space so they can judge us, yell at their kids, and gossip with one another can be terrifying and deflating.
It’s time to flip the script on Observation Week.
What if we use our skills as educators AND performers to shift our approach to the traditional observation week? What if we take full advantage of this time, when we have the room’s attention to educate our observers? An educational performance, if you will.
From the moment we start class, we share the “why”...Why we begin class with this activity...Why this exercise helps improve________...Why we must first achieve ______ to then be able to do ________...
If we’re making eye contact with our audience (observers), speaking to them about their children’s work, and leading an informative class (with fancy dance terminology and all), we will have their full attention. In addition, they will clearly see our class objectives, the progress in our progressions, and the structure of our lesson plans leading to a better understanding of the anatomy of our classes. Perhaps a seed of appreciation for our work as dance educators and the impact we have on their children will be planted. With each passing observation week brings a new opportunity for growth. Growth for our dance families, but also for us. The more we study and understand our own “why”, the more we grow as an educator.
I truly believe that education leads to respect and respect leads to appreciation. And not just an appreciation for you as their dance teacher, but also for the art of dance. Maybe their child won’t grow to be a professional dancer, but that family will grow to have a deep appreciation that drives them to continue supporting the arts. Being artists at our core, what more could we ask for??
Who’s ready to flip the script? I encourage you to go beyond educating your students and educate their families as well. Observation weeks are a great place to start! We, the dance world, deserve to be respected and appreciated. We can cultivate that appreciation through education. Lucky for us, we’re amazing educators.
Andrea Trench is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.