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: Warm/Strict

Today’s Behavior Management Monday Technique from the book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (paid link) is one of my favorites. It is an extremely simple technique that I use regularly in my work as an educator, both in the traditional classroom and in the dance classroom.

This technique is under the larger category of building character and trust in your classroom. Using the Warm/Strict technique allows us to “send a message of high expectations, caring, and respect” (p. 438).

This is a short section in the book, but I really love the way that the technique is described:

We’re socialized to believe that warmth and strictness are opposites: if you’re more of one, it means being less of the other. I don’t know where this false conception comes from, but if you choose to believe in it, it will undercut your teaching. The fact is that the degree to which you are warm has no bearing on the degree to which you are strict, and vice versa. You should be neither only warm nor only strict. In fact, as the Warm/Strict technique shows, you must be both. You should be caring, funny, warm, concerned, and nurturing–but also strict, by the book, relentless, and sometimes inflexible.

In fact, you should seek not only to be both warm and strict but often to be both at exactly the same time. When you are clear, consistent, and firm while being positive, enthusiastic, caring, and thoughtful, you send the message to students that having high expectations is part of caring for and respecting someone. (p. 438)

In reading the above paragraphs from the text, I am reminded that the idea of showing caring through high expectations is a core belief of mine. As a child training in dance, I remember complaining a few times to my mother that I was being “picked on” by my dance teachers. I remember my mother explaining to me that if the teachers didn’t care or think that I had potential, they wouldn’t correct me. She pointed out the some students never received corrections and got away with doing movements incorrectly, but the fact that teachers took the time to make sure I did things the right way shows that the believed in me and knew I was not giving my best effort. Those teachers wanted me to be my greatest self. Today, I realize from the way in which I communicate with my students and the lens through which I view parenting decisions is largely based in this belief: When you truly believe that someone can accomplish great things, as if it is an undeniable fact, you won’t have a problem with helping them see themselves in the same way and encouraging them to reveal the best part of themselves through their own work and effort. This is one of the qualities that I love most about the technique of Warm/Strict–it combines caring with high expectations and reminds us that high standards are good and should be sought and desired.

Dance Classroom Management: Change the Pace

Hello Dear Dance Educators!

Today’s dance classroom behavior management technique is called Change the Pace, and it is Technique #27 in Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (paid link). Performing this technique requires the educator in the room to “establish a productive pace” (p. 201) in the classroom, by changing activity speeds, types, or formats.

In the text we read that the engagement that we work to create may, unfortunately, leave quickly and student participation may become “tired and superficial” (p. 201). Often, this is because we educators have continued teaching with the same activity and pacing for too long.

As I mentioned in Episode 9 and in Episode 16 of The Happy Dance Podcast, it is important to incorporate a variety of activities–using different music, props, or movement elements–in order to avoid monotony in your dance classes. Though I mainly focus on crafting educational movement experiences through the art of dance for children ages 2 to 8 years, I believe that the dance classroom management techniques I discuss in my blog and podcast can be scaffolded to be relevant for all ages.

In the text we read (p. 203) that there are five general ways that we can use to help students to engage with material. These five ways are listed below. I want to challenge you, as you read these descriptions, to consider how activities might look if we are planning to incorporate them into a dance class:

  • Assimilating knowledge directly from sources such as the teacher or a text
  • Participating in guided practice or guided questioning structured by the teacher
  • Executing skills without teacher support, as in independent practice
  • Reflecting on an idea–thinking quietly and deeply
  • Discussing and developing ideas with classmates

By working to provide educational dance activities using the categories listed above as a guide, we will ensure that we are providing our students with a well-rounded “mental workout” (p. 203) and an exciting and interesting experience in their dance class.

Have a great week!

The Perfect Playlist

It is my personal belief that the music of a dance class can completely make or break the class. Anyone who has ever taught classes for me knows that I place a huge emphasis on choosing the best music for the class they’re teaching. I believe that the music chosen for a dance class should fit the style of the instructor, be chosen with the students in mind, have appropriate lyrics (or be instrumental or beats only!), fit with the actual moves/steps/combinations/technique that will be taught in class, be enjoyable for parents or any community observers, and generally aid in creating the desired atmosphere that the instructors wants to create for that specific class.

I have found that if I choose my music wisely, my lesson plan nearly writes itself. I will talk about that more soon in some projects that I am working on, but I really believe that’s true! (Anyone else choose the music before deciding what your students are actually going to do in class?)

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve decided to focus on music in The Happy Dance Blog this week! I’m kicking it off with my Perfect Playlist Formula, which you can remember with the letters H-A-P-P-Y!

Be sure to head over to DanceEdStartup.com and grab this week’s blog FREEBIE!

Formulating Your Educational Philosophy

I can’t remember if it happened after I left New York City or later. Perhaps it was when I landed back in my City by the Bay, with the lyrics to “Empire State of Mind” still fresh in my head, ready to take on the world as an entrepreneur and dance educator. Maybe it was after I completed my Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction, eager to shape the minds of the next generation. Somewhere in those couple of years, I decided that one of the most important things to develop before beginning to teach anything to anyone was my philosophy of education. (In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I may have spent a few weeks iterating this philosophy during my year as a graduate student and teaching resident . . . .)

It made sense to me that before presenting myself to the world as a fancy educator, I should know what I stood for and for what I did not stand. While I now have a little short and sweet philosophy typed up on my teacher website (which I haven’t worked to maintain in a few years now–sorry, not sorry! I’ve been building other things in this world!), I think I used to have a super deep, lengthy few paragraphs posted.

However, after successfully teaching, recruiting teachers, and training teachers for the past decade or so, I’m now completely satisfied with the conviction that a teaching philosophy is an ever-evolving construct. It may sound cliché, but it is true: In my years of working as an educator, I have been so transformed by the students with whom I have worked that it would be impossible for me to not learn and change from those experiences. My work with students from the ages of 1.5 to 45 (that’s just a guestimate . . . dancing keeps us looking young wink) and my work with children in classrooms across the United States has moved me toward becoming a more enlightened, sensitive, accepting, and loving human and a more skilled, prepared, responsive, and aware dance educator and youth development professional.

So if your personal philosophy as an educator currently isn’t in complete cohesion with all of your other identities, or if you feel like your ideas are changing and your view of the world is expanding with each new hour of teaching you have, keep dancing and keep teaching. Your view of yourself, your understanding of the world, your ability to create meaningful experiences through movement . . . it is all only going to get better.