Dance Classroom Management: Least Invasive Intervention

Hello! Today’s Behavior Management Monday technique is called Least Invasive Intervention. It is part of a series of techniques used to create high behavioral expectations in the classroom. Of course, as a dance educator, as the founder and CEO of two dance education organizations, and as a dance educator coach, my primary current interest in behavior management techniques comes from a place of wanting to better support early career dance educators with having better student engagement, participation, and learning in their dance classroom.

If you’re interested in reading more about classroom behavior management for yourself, you can find all the tips that I post about write about in the book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (#ad).

The goal of using the Least Invasive Intervention technique is to correct the undesired behavior of one student without disrupting the entire class. Often, when only one student is off task, we will give so much attention to that single student and that moment that we lose the attention and focus of every single other student in class. Then, we have a much larger task at hand–we will find that we need to reign in several students instead of giving a quick, barely noticeable correction to one student.

There are 6 specific ways that we can give minimally invasive interventions, but the goal, always, is to be as unnoticeable as possible to the rest of your class.

  1. Nonverbal Intervention: You can make corrections with hand gestures, facial expressions, or intentional modeling of the action you expect students to take while never stopping your teaching.
  2. Positive Group Correction: This is a quick, verbal reminder given to the entire group to take a specific action. Example, using call and response: Teacher says: “One, two, three, all eyes on me!” Students reply: “One, two, eyes on you!”
  3. Anonymous Individual Correction: This technique is similar to a positive group correction because it describes the solution, but it makes explicit that there are people (who remain anonymous) who have not yet met the expectation.
  4. Private Individual Correction (PIC): This correction allows you to take more time with one student, while the rest of the class works on something or allows you to correct the student’s behavior quickly, but privately and away from the rest of the class. A teacher might take a few seconds to whisper a correction to a student then return to teaching.
  5. Private Individual Precise Praise (PIPP): When you use PIPP, you are whispering positive feedback to a student instead of a critique. This is a way of balancing your corrections with praise. Also, if you are balancing the corrections you give your students with the praise you are giving your students, they will be more open and receptive when you are approaching them.
  6. Lightning Quick Public Correction: There will be times when you will need to make public corrections of individual students. Though this should be used as a last resort, when you must give a public correction, you should focus on limiting the amount of time the off-task student is “on stage,” focus on telling the student what to do that is right instead of what they are doing that is wrong, and normalizing the positive behavior of the majority of the class by directing everyone’s attention to productive behavior that is occurring.

For more behavior management tips, be sure to check out the Dance Classroom Management section of DanceEdStartup.com!

 

Dance Classroom Management: Every Minute Matters

I appreciate the opportunity to share behavior management tips with a focus on Doug Lemov’s Teach Like A Champion for a few reasons.

First, it gives me a sense of reward to feel that I am putting my best foot forward toward (hopefully) inspiring the coming generation of dance educators and aiding in putting good education practices into the ethosphere.

Second, I feel a sense of satisfaction to push myself to further my education outside of my current academic program. For years I have considered myself a “lifelong learner” and to dedicate my time to daily or weekly reading, synthesizing, and applying information gives me a strong sense of fulfillment.

Third, it gives me a chance to create. In re-purposing content to which I was originally introduced as a young educator myself and placing it in the lens of dance education is a creative endeavor for me. And, yeah, I consider myself a “creative.” This is one way that I got my jollies, if you will.

Finally, I feel that I’m providing a little bit of insight into the brain of the mama of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools programs. (That’s me. Founder and CEO all day, yo.)

With that, let’s dive into today’s Behavior Management Monday Tip. It’s Technique #31 in Teach Like A Champion 2.0, and it can be found under the larger category of Pacing. It’s called “Every Minute Matters.”

In short, when practicing Every Minute Matters, we are respecting the students’ time by making each minute as productive as possible.

When explaining this technique, Lemov says, “Time, I was reminded… is water in the desert. It is a teacher’s most precious resource — it is to be husbanded, guarded, and conserved. Every minute of it matters” (p. 225).

He goes on to explain in this chapter that if we let students “relax” for just the last 5 minutes of every class for 6 classes in each school year, we are giving up 75 hours of valuable instructional time.

One of my favorite parts in this chapter is as follows:

Mastering Every Minute Matters means spending time with the greatest possible productivity by attending to the everyday moments when time is often squandered. It means assuming that events will forever create new and unanticipated opportunities for downtime to occur, and therefore being prepared with “back-pocket” activities: a high-energy review of what your students have learned, or a challenge problem. It means keeping a series of short learning activities ready so that you’re prepared when downtime threatens . . . . You can, in short, always be teaching. (p. 226)

As someone who has directed summer camps, been a camp counselor, directed after school programs, been a teaching artist, been an elementary classroom teacher, worked as an internship coordinator, and who currently directs my own dance education organizations, I think that the above quote is so powerful and it is one of the skills that impresses me most when I am observing other teachers, both new and experienced. I think that having a “bag of tricks” is one of the most important skills for an educator to develop, and it is something that comes with time.

When I was first working as a teaching artist for Dance Daze in Schools in the Bay Area, I worked very hard to develop my bag of tricks because I quickly realized that the way I had been trained in dance wasn’t entirely working for teaching dance in schools for several hours per week. Back then, I was teaching dance for kids in kindergarten through sixth grades at multiple schools. I worked hard to find ways to blend my knowledge of dance classroom culture (really: dance studio and pre-professional dance training culture) with elementary school culture. One way in which I did this, and, therefore began developing my bag of tricks was reading. I read about different ways to engage students through movement and thus began my person deep dive into the world of dance education.

One of the books that helped me to teach dance in schools was Making Fun Out of Nothing at All: 101 Great Games That Need No Props. I loved this book because it was inexpensive, practical, and full of movement activities that would allow me to break up the monotony of my in-schools dance classes, keep my students engaged, and continue teaching fundamental elements of movement and dance-making in a way that resonated with my students–play. Oh, also, in case you didn’t catch it in the book title–NO PROPS are needed for any of these 101 activities. AWESOME.

So yes, this is one book I would highly recommend for adding to your bag of tricks as a dance educator, especially if you are teaching at a school, camp, or community center.

Be prepared to teach the art of dance in any environment. And be prepared with a deep and interesting bag of tricks so that you can make every minute of learning time impactful and productive for your students.

Dance Classroom Management: Be Seen Looking

Hey everyone!

It seems that I took an unplanned break from blogging to focus on some other areas of my dance business! But, now I’m back with new ideas and newly inspired, ready to start writing here again.

A little earlier this evening, I was reading about teaching preschool dance classes, and the author recommended that we dance teachers use some behavioral management methods that I will talk about in further detail later–positive behavioral narration and specific public praise.

Behavioral narration and public praise are two techniques I absolutely love using to help manage my dance classroom. However, as I was considering these two methods, I couldn’t help but backward mapping and considering what newer dance teachers might have to do before feeling comfortable enough to use either of those tools.

I know that finding one’s “teacher voice” (and yes, dance teachers have a “teacher voice” also) can be difficult and take years to understand and develop. This made me think about all of the non-verbal cues that I’ve learned to use in my dance classroom space over the years, whether I’m teaching dance for my studio-based dance classes or for my dance programs in schools.

One simple, effective strategies I use is called “Be Seen Looking.” It is one of the short phrases that was drilled into my head (thankfully) during my intensive classroom teacher residency program. It is a tool I continue to use today to manage my dance classroom.

In Teach Like A Champion 2.0, Be Seen Looking is listed as High Behavioral Expectation Technique #51. This technique is described as a way to, “prevent nonproductive behavior by developing your ability to see it when it happens and by subtly reminding students that you are looking” (p. 387).

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When I was taught this technique, I remember being encouraged to do it overtly and with a flair of drama (which is typically my student when teaching). For example, in the dance classroom, after giving a clear direction or explanation such as, “I’ll know everyone is ready when you are all standing with your feet in first position and your arms in low fifth position (or en bas),” I might lift my chin just a little and simply wait, while checking the position of each student’s feet and arms.

I think this is a powerful technique for many reasons:

  1. It is quiet and doesn’t distract from your lesson.
  2. It gives the dance teacher an opportunity to develop their teacher presence and non-verbal teacher “voice”.
  3. It reminds the students that you care about what they’re doing during class time.
  4. It lets students know that they should be vigilant about listening to directions during class.
  5. It’s easy to remember and simple to implement.

The Be Seen Looking technique is part of a cycle that works to get 100% of students’ attention 100% of the time. Page 387 of Teach Like A Champion 2.0 states:

“Great teachers ensure that they have 100 percent of students with them for the teaching and learning; their expectation is 100 percent of students, 100 percent of the time, 100 percent of the way. Great classroom managers generally step in to address distractions earlier than other teachers, allowing their interventions to be almost imperceptible. The recipe implicit in their success is simple and powerful: catch it early and fix it noninvasively, without breaking the thread of instruction.”

That is my Management Monday tip for today, folks!

What techniques are you using or encouraging teachers at your studio to use manage student behavior and maintain atmospheres that are focused on learning in an engaging and artistic environment? Let me know in the comments!

But, what’s a hobby?

Okay, so the title of this blog might seem a bit ridiculous to some people. But, in the same way that I’ve always hated answering questions about what kinds of music I like (and, yes, I’m saving those juicy deets for another blog),  I’ve always hated answering the questions “What are your hobbies?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

I strongly dislike answering questions about my hobbies because, quite frankly, it makes me feel like I’m not doing anything with my life. But, of course, anyone who knows me (or maybe even you, because you’re reading my blog, maybe follow me online, or at least know that blogging is a THING that takes time and effort) knows that I’m always, always working on something. And when I’m not working on something directly, I’m making plans for how to complete a project.

Still though, I can’t help but wonder if all the somethings I do are legitimate hobbies. I mean, really, what’s a hobby?! (I just feel like I’m a hard-working, type-A, ambitious, relentless hustler!)

Google tells me that a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Wikepedia tells me that a hobby is “a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. Hobbies include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements.”

Okay, so then there’s me. I spend my waking hours doing only things that give me pleasure in some way. I explained this in Episode #7 of The Happy Dance Podcast. I honestly feel like every single thing in my daily life (when I have complete control over my time) I’m doing either because it makes me instantly happy or because I believe it will make me long-term happy.

So, let’s take this blog for instance. Is blogging a “HOBBY?” Or am I working as I type these words? Sure, writing is fun for me. Writing is something I enjoy. It gives me great pleasure to craft words, communicate ideas, perhaps spark new insights, and maybe even engage in the occasional online conversation with a fellow blogger/digital-entrepreneur type. But, I’m also working. I’m also creating content. I’m also trying to build an audience. I’m also keeping this blog up-to-date as part of a carefully planned mini-project that is as part of a larger business-growth plan of mine.

And, while I suppose I’m not a professional blogger (I can tell you right now: I’m not making a dime directly from this blog….), I definitely spend some of my time reading about how to become a better blogger or writer.

I’m in no way a professional podcaster, but I’m constantly consuming information about how to manage, grow, and monetize a podcast.

In fact, I’ve gotten paid for many activities (e.g., posting sponsored tweets, editing resumes, managing social media accounts, etc.) that I’ve never considered my professions.

So, are these things hobbies? Simply because I’m not getting paid any big bucks to do them? Because, personally, I view everything on which I regularly spend my time as sort of a low-key startup.

I mean, as I recently said in my Instastories: In the age of influencers, isn’t any hobby a potential business? Isn’t any leisure activity a potential means of income?

When people are getting paid to make sounds into expensive microphones, the possibilities are endless, right?

So, all of the above to say this: I’m not sure where the line blurs or the boundary ends between doing something strictly for fun or doing something because it’s fun and because it could potentially make some financial income.

Maybe I don’t know what a hobby is. Or maybe I’m so wonderfully fortunate because I am spending a large portion of my life doing the things that I love, so much to the point that my work feels like fun and leisurely activities. Or maybe I’m living with such a high functioning level of anxiety that I can’t even tell that I’m a workaholic with restless mind syndrome who has to literally schedule in social activities, otherwise I’ll forget to make friends or to talk to humans IRL.

Maybe I’m super ahead of my time and the word hobby should be eliminated from our vocabulary.

Maybe the word “hobby” is only relevant for people who haven’t found the magical blend of taking every single opportunity as a learning experience, being a student of life, observing human behavior, and using what they observe to better govern themselves and their daily decisions.

Maybe we need to expand the definition of hobby to include a space for us internet entrepreneurs, nay, born hustlers who are living each day casually mixing what we love with making money and making the world better.

Until next time, I’ll be working on my hobbies (or hardly working???)!

 

 

What Is Your Primary Responsibility As A Dance Business Owner?

If you are a dance studio owner, if you run a dance education program that serves children in your local community, if you run any kind of business that provides the service of dance to clients, what is your primary responsibility?

Some might say their main responsibility is to introduce students to the art of dance and to help foster a love for dance for all students.

Some might say that it is their responsibility to properly prepare all students for professional careers in dance, including careers in dance performance, dance education, arts marketing, arts fundraising, dance research, and more.

Some might say they are focused on using dance as a tool to empower their students, giving them a lens through which to see the world and a voice for self-expression.

Perhaps your primary focus is social and restorative justice. Maybe your programs are focused on repairing and uplifting the people in communities that have been forgotten and neglected.

Maybe you feel that you’ve moved on from all of the above. Now you’re focused on making money. It is a dance business after all, right? If you don’t meet your bottom line, the business ceases to exist.

Maybe you love the marketing, the digital content, the UX design, the social media. Maybe that’s your primary focus and responsibility. Because, no matter what you’re doing, if you aren’t bringing in clients, you can’t really do what you want to do anyway, right?

Is your primary focus simply being organized? Handling registrations, hanging those flyers, getting those dance team jackets out, directing rehearsals, overseeing end-of-semester surveys and technique progress reports, making sure every student has the correct front-stitched leotard or slip-on jazz shoes, ensuring that all students and their parents know how to correctly sew elastic onto their ballet slippers?

Maybe you have mastered the art of delegation, and you are now primarily responsible for making sure your team does all of the above. Your team has to know and live out the values of your organization, manage the day-to-day tasks, communicate effectively with students and families, be a positive representation of your dance program in the community, ensure that regular outreach is happening, manage the social media accounts, teach the classes, keep students engaged and challenged, and more.

So what do I think? What is the primary responsibility of someone who owns or directs a dance business?

All of it.

Yes, when you’re running a dance business, your primary mission is to make sure that all.the.things are getting done, every minute of every day, by any means necessary.

I talked about how challenging finding balance can be in Episode #7 of The Happy Dance Podcast. I also talked about how we may sometimes be doing really well with doing the things that naturally bring us the most joy, while simultaneously failing (yes, failure is a thing… it’s just not a forever thing) at doing all the things that are the most tedious, the most time-consuming, or the most stressful.

So how do we do it? How do we stay motivated? How can we keep worrying about things like performance costumes or even on innovating within our established programs when we are in the middle of a slow season and we want to dedicate all our time and all our funds to marketing and outreach?

We can leave for a while, but we have to come back. This is a paraphrasing of some advice I got from my world religions teacher in high school, by way of my mother. I remember my mom told me that, during a parent-teacher conference, my former teacher mentioned to her that I spaced out during his class sometimes. He was fine with me letting my mind wander, as long as I always brought myself back.

This is what I believe we need to do as dance business owners.

We literally are some of the people in the world who DO IT ALL. (See also: women, moms, stepmoms.)

It can be daunting. It can be exhausting. It can be overwhelming in a terrible way. It can be impossible.

But impossible is nothing.

If you’re a dance educator reading this, you likely already know that huge responsibility that we have in the world as well as the great opportunity that we have to make an impact.

Follow your dreams. Model your educational philosophy. Develop great dancers and great citizens. Live your business mission and see the vision through.

Do it all. And if you ever just can’t do it all, then leave it for a minute… then get up and get back to work.