Foggy Today? Focus on the Future

What keeps you going when you’re just not feeling it as a creative entrepreneur?

As I’ve said before: Even if we completely love what we do, we won’t love every single minute of every single day of what we do.

For example: I absolutely love being an entrepreneur and directing dance programs. But I strongly dislike returning phone calls (I prefer emails 100%), organizing information into spreadsheets, ordering costumes, booking performance locations, and more. But I made myself do those things when I was directing in-person dance programs because the return on the investment was so great. The kids loved it, and families wanted it. (This is a story for another blog, but I actually really struggled with even beginning to develop a performance program because I wanted to be so process focused. I love teaching technique. Performing was a great experience for me personally, but I never felt compelled to find and facilitate performance opportunities for my dance students until families expressed that they desired this from my program.)

When I worked as a classroom teacher, I loved being with my students, creating community, and finding different ways to open those little minds to understand new concepts. However, I completely hated (strong word, but likely extremely accurate . . . ) parent-teacher conferences (they always gave me extreme anxiety, even when the kids were A+ students), decorating my classroom, updating bulletin boards, and most staff meetings. But I made myself do it because decorating my room with student work made the faces of my kiddos just glow with enthusiasm or because it helped parents know what was going on in our classroom. Again, the return on the investment was worth it.

So, when I’m hitting a slump (as I am right now), and when I don’t want to do anything business related, I try to focus on the return. I try to remind myself that all of the work I’m doing will result in either an end goal toward which I’m working or that the work of the daily grind will continue to fulfill me, provide helpful information to my audience and clients, or put good into the world in the way that I feel compelled to do.

In short, when the now is foggy (or what it’s just outright terrible, horrible, no good!), try to focus on that potentially fantastic future feeling. You might find that the future isn’t so far away and that you’ll receive your ROI sooner than you think. Fingers crossed! ;)

Forever filled with the audacity of hope,

Saumirah

I WANT to be paid to think.

I’m a hardcore entrepreneur. I live to create. I thrive on bringing ideas to fruition through the art of starting and developing business ventures.

But I’ve mentioned it before on The Happy Dance Podcast and I’ve mentioned it in my Lunchtime Entrepreneur Chats on Clubhouse: I like to keep some freelance work or a super easy part-time gig in my back pocket so that I can always make sure the bills are paid.

So the other day, when I was working at one of my part-time gigs, I overheard someone say, “I don’t get paid to think here!” He went to explain how, when he’s at work, he’s thinking about what he’s eating next or how he will be getting to the next level of a videogame, but not about the work he’s doing for the company.

I thought to myself: THAT’S what’s wrong with this situation. I WANT to be paid to think.

When I worked for a large charter school management organization a few years ago, I remember one of the principals was always emphasizing that we, as the teachers, were the experts in the room. She said this as a way–not to make us feel that we were all-knowing or that we should be teaching our students in a top-down way, but instead–to encourage us to feel comfortable and confident in our background knowledge, life experiences, and professional training to do our job properly. When I worked there, even on the really challenging days, I felt like I was getting paid to think.

When I’m running my dance programs, maybe a few parents think they’re paying me to entertain their child for an hour each week, but I think most parents knew they were paying me to:

  • Develop and facilitate engaging, challenging, and developmentally appropriate programs
  • Be the best or hire the best talent I could find to help their child discover and explore the art of dance in a safe and nurturing environment
  • Put money back into the business by the way of performance opportunities (including space rentals and costume purchases), buying and maintaining props (such as scarves, ribbons, balance beams, hula hoops, etc. for my Creative Movement classes and Dance Daze Birthday Parties)
  • Create appropriate music playlists that would guide the atmosphere of the class and support my instruction
  • Develop and maintain the best systems for relaying information, collecting payments, ensuring their child’s safety, and more.

When I’m working as an educator, I’m paid to think.

When I’m working in education, all of me matters.

My thoughts, experiences, and professional background are important because I’m taking on the extremely important work of supporting, informing, and influencing the minds and shaping the experiences of the next generation.

And I like it that way. I love being paid to think.

Any job that doesn’t pay me for this beautifully developed, empathetic, thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, curious mind of mine is 1) missing out and 2) will be short-lived.

PLEASE: Pay me to think. I like it that way.

Saumirah

If You Write, You’re A Writer

So I’m currently reading Seth Godin’s book, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. In it, he says that if you write, you’re a writer. The point is doing the work and getting the work out there.

So, here I am blogging and being a blogger and all, but it’s not just so that I can update my IG bio (which ya know, I do love to do!). I’m working on changing my habits to develop multiple daily practices because I, like Seth, believe that we are what we regularly do.

I used to teach dance all the time (in person, to actual humans). I watched videos about how to teach dance. I read articles about concepts to teach and ways to teach them. I chose music that would best enhance my dance classes. I wrote lesson plans for my dance classes. I was a dance teacher. It’s what I did. It’s what I was. (To be clear: I am still a dance teacher, but I’m re-developing the way in which I deliver information and engage in the process of educating through the medium of dance.)

You may or may not know that I have a professional background in education. I have a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I taught kindergarten through second grade for 6 years. I’m currently earning a Doctor of Education degree. So yeah–professional background in education.

You may or may not know that I love creating – creating digital content, Reels, TikToks, blogs, social media plans, dance boards, etc. I’m a maker. And I once heard a poet at some event I attended in New York City say something like “My best days are when my art and my life are one in the same. I’m trying to have more of those good days.”

So, in an effort to live the life that I love, have as many good days as possible, and to get my creative work out into the world as the homie Seth is recommending to me, I’ll now be developing my creative and professional practice as an educational content creator for Dance Daze, Inc.

To start, I’ll be focusing on two topics that I absolutely love: Ballet and Creativity.

To catch my latest deep dives into living my best life as an educational content creator, check out the Dance Daze, Inc. Instagram page. I have some cool stuff shipping out!

More to come.

Saumirah

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: 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!