Dance Classroom Management: Do Now

Happy Monday!

Today’s dance classroom Behavior Management Monday tip is Technique #20 in Teach Like A Champion 2.0–Do Now. It falls under the larger category of lesson structure, and it reminds us that our dance lesson plan begins as soon as the students arrive at our studio/stage/dance room door.

If you’ve spent time in a traditional academic classroom environment and have been there at the beginning of the day, you may be familiar with the idea of a “Do Now” activity. I have personally used this technique and seen this technique used for students of all ages, ranging from kindergarten through high school-aged students. When I was teaching in K-2 classrooms, we called this “Morning Seatwork” and I either kept the activities near my desk and distributed them each morning or (for older students), I created the packets by Friday and passed them out Monday morning for the students to keep in their Morning Seatwork folder for an entire week.

So, what is a Do Now actually, and what can it look like in a dance classroom environment? A Do Now is “a short warm-up activity that students can complete without instruction or direction from you to start class every day. This lets the learning start even before you begin teaching” (p. 161).

When the Dance Ed Lab visited Los Angeles in February of 2019, and I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in their introductory workshop for a weekend, we had a simple Do Now on the first or second day of our session. The instructions were written on a piece of sticky paper, and all program participants were told to grab a free DEL shirt and introduce ourselves to someone whom we had not yet met. This activity took only a few minutes, but it was a great way for us to acclimate to the dance classroom space, facilitate developing relationships among students in the class, and it required no teacher assistance or instruction.

While I got to the point of being super comfortable with my Morning Seatwork when I was teaching K-2 academics, I feel that this is an area where I would like to continue developing with my dance classes.

Typically, I instruct my students to come into the dance space, put on their dance shoes, and stretch quietly in the center of the floor until I tell them we are ready to begin class. With my youngest students, I encourage them to do exactly the same thing, though I add that they may, instead, sit quietly with their parents before class begins.

It fills me with joy when I see my 5 and 6 year-old dancers doing their straddle stretch or butterfly stretch before class. (They will usually say, “Hey, look at me! I’m stretching before we start!”) I love that they are taking ownership of their learning, setting the tone for their sacred dance class time, and focusing themselves before beginning this important time in their day.

In Teach Like A Champion 2.0, we learn that “An effective Do Now should conform to four critical criteria to ensure that it remains focused, efficient, and effective.” These criteria are listed below:

  1. The instructions should be in the same place every day.
  2. Students should be able to complete the Do Now activity without any direction from the teacher and without any discussion with their classmates. They should also not need any additional materials to complete the activity.
  3. The activity should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and no more than 5 minutes to correct/debrief.
  4. The activity should typically preview the day’s lesson/focus or review a recent lesson/skill that was taught.

I know that having an activity such as this is not the norm for a studio dance class space. Also, even when teaching dance in schools, there are typically very limited blocks of time during which the dance class can occur, so every minute is so valuable.

I think that if I was going to challenge myself to incorporate a Do Now into my dance classes, I would do this by having a small portable white board (or a tablet of some kind) that would have a specific stretch listed for the beginning of each class. For example, in very large font, I might write/type: “Put on your dance shoes, then do a straddle stretch while pointing and flexing your toes for 3 minutes.” For my youngest dancers who might not be able to read, I could explain this to them verbally and maybe even model the stretch to the earliest students before the rest of the class arrived.

In addition to focusing your students and allowing them to work with you to set the tone of the class before it begins, I think a Do Now is a great way to teach a specific skill (e.g., I said I would focus on teaching different developmentally-appropriate stretches each week) without taking away class time because it can begin before your “actual” lesson starts. Besides that it could create too much uncontrolled chaos before starting class, I suppose a dance teacher might also add some high-activity movements such as skipping, running in place, or jumping jacks as a Do Now activity before class begins. I think it would be fun to experiment with a variety of movement activities that the students can complete independently as a Do Now.

What are some ways you would incorporate a Do Now into your dance classes? Leave a comment below or email me at saumirah@dancedaze.org and let me know!

Free Creative Movement Playlists for Dance Teachers and Studio Owners

Dance Daze® Creative Movement has been one of my favorite classes to teach for a long time. (I also absolutely love teaching Dance Daze® Combo Class, classical ballet, and tap classes.)

When I was first growing Dance Daze® classes, the Creative Movement classes were the first ones to fill up. Today, I still have students enrolled for Dance Daze® Creative Movement and paid-in-full for an entire session (10 weeks of class) and sometimes even an entire year (30 classes and 6 performance opportunities spread out in seasonal sessions over 10 months) for months in advance!

Because Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes filled so quickly, and because it was an absolute blast for me to invest right back into this program, I dove into creating playlists, purchasing props, and writing detailed lesson plans for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes right away.

If you are also starting to purchase props for your growing dance business, you may be interested in my video that went out last week for people who are subscribed to my email list: Two Tips: Episode #10. In this video, in just 2 minutes, I tell you exactly how I decided which props to purchase and how many props I purchased when I was just starting out. I also give you approximate numbers for how many props I have now and why. Also, for all of you with mobile dance businesses, in Two Tips: Episode #5, I tell you some of my favorite bags that I use to transport my dance props and how I use this to market my classes on the go!

Now that I’m working to help early career dance educators and new studio owners start, streamline, and grow their dance education businesses through my platform at DanceEdStartup.com, I am giving away some of the earliest playlists I created for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes for FREE. You can grab each of them when you go to DanceEdStartup.com/Freebies.

I know that most new dance studios grow the fastest with their youngest students, in the same way that my dance education programs have grown. Because I want to support you in the best way possible, in next week’s blog, I’ll be providing a freebie that will tell you my absolute favorite props that me and my teachers use for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes. I have a few of my favorites listed in the Dance Daze, Inc. Amazon Shop, but I’m going to provide the individual product links and personal descriptions telling you exactly how I use the props in class in the freebie that I’ll create for next week’s blog!

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that you’ll now get an offer for 25% to 50% off all PAID products at DanceEdStartup.com whenever you download a FREEBIE! So if you wanted to grab some Dance Daze® Creative Movement and Dance Daze® Combo Class music playlists, they’re all 50% off when you download all of the free music playlists!

And yes, of course I’m entirely aware that you can get dozens of free playlists online almost anywhere. So why would you pay anything at all for a playlist?

I’ll be honest: I’m pretty crazy about my dance classes. I’m also pretty crazy about the music that’s used for Dance Daze® classes. (Really. Ask ANYONE who has taught classes for Dance Daze, Inc. or Dance Daze in Schools. They will tell you that THE MUSIC MATTERS.)

Dance Daze® music playlists aren’t just thrown together on Spotify and posted in random Facebook groups. These playlists aren’t swiped from my less experienced dance teachers and marked as my own. No way.

I have personally curated each playlist. I listen to every single song on the playlist, word-for-word (even if that means reading the lyrics as I listen so I know what is being said). Each playlist that is posted on DanceEdStartup.com has been tried, tested, and parent/dance teacher/child approved. And, if there are songs that I personally think won’t work well with the playlist, I’ll delete those songs before I make the playlist available for purchase because I don’t want you to have to do any major editing after you get a Dance Daze® music playlist!

Additionally, over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be posting Dance Daze® Lesson Plans and new playlists that match the lesson plans over at DanceEdStartup.com! I’m still working on developing the layout I’ll use, but I essentially want dance teachers to be able to know exactly what movements or activities we would do in a Dance Daze® class for each song.

I guess you could say I’ll be dripping out content for Dance Daze® over the next several weeks and months. But, honestly, I see it as more than that.

I know there are lots of programs out there where you can purchase curriculum. I know there are tons of places where you can get free song recommendations or grab entire, already-created playlists. I know you can even learn how to create your own curriculum for your dance studio and mobile dance business by participating in some other programs out there. That’s not what I want to give you.

At DanceEdStartup.com, I want to help you START, STREAMLINE, and GROW a dance business. I also want to provide tools that help you get to teaching as quickly as possible. I have no intentions of dragging things out and creating lesson plans that are complicated to look at or take time “understand” before implementation. It is my hope that DanceEdStartup.com products will be simple for the newest dance teacher and the most experienced dance teacher to use. Our products are GRAB-AND-GO.

Why? Because if you’re half as busy as me, I know you do not have the time to read 50 pages explaining how to teach a tendu to a 3 year old. I know that if you find an early career dance teacher who has the heart, energy, and genuine desire to teach in your dance program, you likely don’t have the time to train them for months just to teach a 45-minute class once a week. You want to support your staff and grow your program and keep things SIMPLE.

So thats’ what I’m all about and that’s what I hope you’ll get with all the freebies and paid products you’ll find at DanceEdStartup.com.

So what now? Well, you can start by heading over to DanceEdStartup.com/freebies and downloading the free playlists if you haven’t already! Then, grab some paid playlists for 50% off so that you can have even more tools to run your program successfully.

And, again, over the next 8 weeks, be on the lookout for lesson plans and new playlists from me that you can download and use in your dance program the same day.

Use Your Studio Time (Even If No Students Are Present)

Have you ever shown up to teach your dance class, fully prepared and ready to go, but no students are there when it is time for class to begin? So maybe you assume they’re stuck in traffic. Five minutes go by. Still no students. Maybe you check your email quickly. Perhaps one student isn’t feeling well. Okay. Cool. Get well soon. Where is the rest of your class?!

If you’re just starting out your dance business, it may be a frequent occurrence that you have an empty studio because students aren’t yet committed to their training, or maybe they’re just trying out your classes and dropping in when their schedule allows. Maybe, despite your best efforts at social media marketing, flyer distribution at local preschools, attending in-person networking events, and trying to get that word-of-mouth marketing going at local playgrounds, you just haven’t had any students showing up for your classes!

Fret not. There are still ways you can use your studio time wisely, whether you are renting studio space for your small dance business, teaching classes for someone else, or directing your own dance studio.

Think of the 45 minutes or 60 minutes as a time to create, create, create. Don’t waste the time or feel annoyed that everyone decided to miss class today. Take your lemons and make some dance lemonade! In the Dance Daze® How to Use Studio Time (When You Have No Students) Checklist, we give you 5 ways that you can you can be productive in your studio space, even if you don’t have students to teach.

Be sure to grab the FREEBIE above, and come back next week for another blog and another freebie!

Chat soon!
Saumirah

Don’t Forget to Run Your Business!

In last Monday’s blog, I told you how prepared I was to teach my first dance classes at a new location, working to expand my business. I explained how, even though all my planning was essentially all in my head, I would be using the Dance Daze® First Class Checklist to cross my Ts and dot my Is. I wanted to be over-prepared for my new students and my new classes. I was completely focused on the educational experience my students would have while exploring the world through music and movement. It’s great that that’s where my head was! The problem is: I completely forgot to mention that I would be entering the dance studio as both a dance educator and as a business owner.

In addition to having a lesson, playlist, and props for my students, I need sign-in sheets, a registration system, and a first aid kit when I teach! When I go to teach, I am not just an artist; I am also an entrepreneur.

So if you are starting your own dance business or expanding to a new location, don’t forget to run the business-side of your dance education organization! We are artists and educators as much as we are directors and CEOs. Keep that frame of mind the next time you walk into your studio!

Oh, and here’s this week’s freebie! Grab the Dance Daze® First Class Business Stuff Checklist FREEBIE to make sure you have all you need for the business side of your first dance class and all future dance classes!