The start of a new dance season is one of my favorite things in the world. The energy is electric and the possibilities feel endless. I love the potential that a fresh start holds: the potential for my students to meet their individual goals, for my class to come together as a community, and for myself to establish good habits that can preserve my work-like balance and reduce burnout later in the year. In celebration of the potential of this new season, I want to share 8 easy ways to make the most of back-to-dance season:
1.) Get to know your students. When you get to know your students, you can teach them more effectively. Taking some time at the beginning of the dance season to learn about your students and make connections with them can help you support their learning all throughout the year Getting to know your students allows you to:
- Design lessons and assessments that help them reach their goals and grow in technique, artistry, and overall well-being through social and emotional learning.
- Respond to their unique cultural backgrounds, dance experiences, and individual needs.
- Keep them engaged and having fun by using music, cultural references, and imagery that they can relate to.
2.) Create a class community: One of the most important benefits of dance is that it brings people together in a shared physical and creative experience. Creating a strong sense of community in your class will help your students feel comfortable with one another and begin to develop friendships. This will allow them to feel safe to take risks, make bold choices, and push themselves to grow as dancers, artists, and individuals. This kind of community doesn’t happen overnight, however – you have to work toward it! Making time for team-building exercises at the start of the year will help you foster the kind of community your students need to thrive. Check out some of my favorite team-building dance games in this blog post.
3.) Support your students’ social and emotional development: Most dance teachers know that we teach much more than just steps and technique! Dance training can help students develop important social and emotional skills that will serve them well throughout their lives, like responsibility, grit, communication skills, and empathy. Building these social and emotional skills into your curriculum and weekly lesson plans will ensure that your students are getting the most out of their dance training. Read about 5 vital social and emotional skills that students learn through dance, and discover new ways to building them into your curriculum and lesson plans in this blog post.
4.) Make time for play: Research has proven that students of all ages learn through play, and that holds true in the dance studio! Still, many dance teachers tend to think of dance games as “time-fillers” or rewards for good student behavior. The truth is, students can learn as much about dance through games and they can from drills and progressions – and play can help keep students engaged and having fun in the process! Making time for educational and productive dance games in the beginning of the year can help students fall in love with dance as they develop skills that will benefit them throughout the year. Check out The Holistic Dance Teacher Dance Games Bundle, with 75 educational dance games to keep your students learning through play all year long!
5.) Invest time in goal-setting: I like to think of goal-setting as a road map that will guide you and your students throughout the year. Goal-setting can be a transformative process that will keep students engaged and motivated in their training. It is important that students have clear and specific goals for dance technique, artistry, and their overall well-being, as well as an action plan and timeline for achieving these goals. The Holistic Guide to Goal-Setting for Dancers will help you easily build goal-setting into your back-to-dance lesson plans.
6.) Set your own goals, too!: Goal-setting can also be a powerful tool for dance teachers and choreographers! It can be easy to let our own personal development start to stagnate as we focus on helping our students grow. Setting some goals for your career, creativity, and personal life can keep you motivated and help prevent burnout later in the season. This blog post features tips on setting and achieving goals that are applicable for your students and yourself!
7.) Commit to caring for yourself: Teaching dance is a profession like no other. Our passion for the art form and our dedication to our students can easily start to overwhelm our lives outside the studio. Of course, it important to be committed to your craft and your dance community. But it is equally important to avoid the kind of stress that can lead to burnout. This year, make a commitment to build meaningful self-care into your back-to-dance routine. Some ideas can be found in this blog post and this one too. You can also join us in The Holistic Dance Teacher group on Facebook for daily inspiration and advice on caring for yourself as you care for your dancers!
8.) Create good habits: The “fresh start” that the new dance season brings offers the perfect opportunity to create good habits routines that will serve us well through the year. In the first few weeks of class, it is vital to create good habits around class management, student behavior, dress code, and basic technique. Establishing these habits now will help you keep your students progressing safely and effectively all season long. Check out this blog post for some of the habits that I think are most important to start at the beginning of the year. Good habits are important in our lives outside the studio, as well. The back-to-dance season is a great time to look at how you manage your time, take care of your body, and set boundaries with your workplaces.
What are your best tips for making the most of back-to-dance season? Share with us in the comments … I’d love to learn from you!
In The Holistic Dance Teacher Collection, you’ll find great resources to help you start the year off right – without adding to your workload! Check out The Holistic Dance Teacher Back-to-Dance Bundle, featuring all the tools you need for back-to-school season!
Visit my Resources page for tools that support a holistic teaching and creative practice. Keep in touch by signing up for my quarterly newsletter, or join me on Facebook at The Holistic Dance Teacher.