Dance Classroom Management: Make Compliance Visible

Hello dance friends!

Today’s behavior management technique modified for the dance classroom setting is called Make Compliance Visible. As always, this technique comes from Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (paid link), and it is part of most classroom teacher training programs today. As a former classroom teacher, as the founder and director of several dance programs, and as someone who hires and trains dance teachers to better prepare them to teach, I am happy to organize these techniques and make them accessible for you, the dance educator. My hope is that these brief, weekly tips will help dance educators who find this information have more successful classes with more engaged students.

So what does Make Compliance Visible mean? Here is the definition: “Ensure that students follow through on a request in an immediate and visible way by setting a standard that’s more demanding than marginal compliance. Be judicious in what you ask for, specifically because it will uphold the standard of compliance” (p. 393).

This technique is in the section called high behavioral expectations, which I think is so extremely important in the dance classroom, especially when we are working with children. We, as the educators in the room, set the standard for what will happen during our learning time.

The text explains, “As a rule of thumb, the more visible the action you ask students to execute, the easier it is for you to see what students do, and the more that students implicitly recognize that you can clearly see what they do. This makes them more likely to do what you’ve asked and makes it easier for you to hold them accountable” (p. 393).

We are given an example of a school principal who, in an effort to help a classroom teacher who struggled to keep students focused, recommended having 3 scripted points into the lesson plan when the teacher would intentionally bring the class “back to orderliness” (p. 393). The principal, David McBride, asked the teacher on his staff to do the following:

  • Given an observable direction
  • Use “Radar” (intentionally scan and strategically see whether something is done)
  • Narrate the follow-through of at least two students who have demonstrated the desired behavior (and correct at least one student if they did not comply, in order to set higher expectations)

It is important for us to use the Make Compliance Visible technique because when students see other students following directions, accountability is increased for all students in the class. Additionally, the normality of compliance is increased.

I talk about this a bit more and give additional examples in my audio clips in the Dance Classroom Management section of my website for dance educators and dance studio owners, DanceEdStartup.com. Please go there to listen and learn more!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to share it so that it reaches more dance educators and helps improve more dance classrooms!

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 Happy Dance Podcast: Episode #1

Read the podcast transcript below or click HERE to download the PDF!

Hi there! My name is Saumirah McWoodson, founder and CEO of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools and dance education researcher and business consultant. And you are listening to The Happy Dance Podcast. Let’s dance!

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to The Happy Dance Podcast! This is my very first podcast ever, so it’s going to be short and sweet and I’m really just gonna be using this one as a place-holder and to make sure that I can actually successfully publish a podcast.

But, before we dive in–and we’re really gonna dive in next week, again, after I know that I can actually do this–I want to introduce myself really quickly. So, my name is Saumirah McWoodson. I’m the founder and CEO of two dance organizations. One is called Dance Daze, Inc. and the other is Dance Daze in Schools. And essentially, with Dance Daze, Inc., we provide studio classes in the Greater Sacramento Area in California, and then with Dance Daze in Schools we provide programs for kids at elementary schools also in the same area. With Dance Daze in Schools, I’m really proud that I have been able to offer programs at schools in New York City, in Washington, D.C., and at a variety of schools in the San Francisco Bay Area as well. But currently, both Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools are based in the Sacramento, California area. I also recently started a dance education consulting business, and I’m doing that at DanceEdStartup.com. So that’s pretty much what’s keeping me busy.

As far as my educational background, I am a current doctoral student at the University of the Pacific, and I’m researching dance educator training and preparation in the United States and also long-term job opportunities for dance educators in the United States. So that’s what I’m working on for the purposes of my dissertation. Then, I’m a Pacific alumna a couple of times. So I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of the Pacific and also my Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of the Pacific, and I also have a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Pacific. I love that school, apparently. And I taught elementary school for six years. So I’ve taught mainly second grade. But I most recently taught kindergarten, and then several years ago I taught, I co-taught first grade as well. So that’s . . . those are the basics about me, my educational background . . . Let’s see . . . I’m also an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 5 of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. And I am a proud and heavily involved dog mom of two rescues. They’re both terrier mixes, named Henry and Benji.

And I’m sure I will let you in on tons of other little tidbits about my life in future episodes. But basically, this podcast is going to focus on everything related to dance, education, and cultivating a life of happiness.

So, thank you for listening to my very first episode! And I hope to catch you again very soon! And if you want to follow me online or learn more about me, you can go to DanceEdStartup.com–thats’ my website for my digital course. You can also find my blog at DanceDaze.org/Blog. I’ll be posting a new blog every Monday with a freebie inside of every blog, so be sure to check that out. And those freebies are going to be of interest to dance educators, early career dance educators, or people running studios that want to give quick and easy products to their newer dance educators. You can find me on Instagram @DanceDazeInc–so that’s d-a-n-c-e-d-a-z-e-i-n-c. There’s also an Instagram for Dance Daze in Schools. It’s just @DanceDazeInSchools. And then my personal Instagram is MissMcWoodson, @MissMcWoodson. So I don’t think I pronounce my name the way that it’s spelled, but it’s @-m-i-s-s my last name is m-c-w-o-o-d-s-o-n.

So I think those are enough Internet links to find me for now. I spend a lot of time online, so I have a lot of ats, a lot of avatars, a lot of urls. Thanks again for listening, and I hope to catch you next week! Bye!

I’m teaching my first class tomorrow.

They say that the secret to happiness and abundance in life is to have more beginnings than endings. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I surely love starting new things. So tomorrow, I’m launching #DanceDazeSacramento — new weekday children’s classes in Sacramento, California, for my studio-based dance organization, Dance Daze, Inc.

If you’ve known me for a while, or even if you’ve been following me for the past few months via DanceEdStartup.com, I’m sure you also know that I’ve been building up my dance organizations–Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools–for about a decade now! I’ve taught dance classes myself for my businesses in different cities and in different spaces, such as schools, community centers, country clubs, and synagogues. I’ve partnered with charter school management organizations and local educational organizations in my city to bring after-school enrichment classes and seasonal camps to students at elementary schools. I’ve worked with universities and high schools to develop and implement paid service-learning internships for college students and high school students as well. Today, I’m working on building my performance program with Dance Daze, Inc., expanding my studio classes to a new city, researching dance educator training in the United States for my doctoral dissertation, and developing a digital course for early career dance educators. So yes, perhaps it is safe to say that, at least with Dance Daze things, I’ve successfully had more beginnings than endings. And I suppose the secret to that success is that I simply never stop. When it comes to getting what I want, I’m pretty relentless (the way all the greats are in my mind).

Now, I’ve done the base work that I walk my students through in my Dance Ed Startup course–I’ve found a beautiful location for my classes, I’ve done some marketing (though, there’s always more marketing that can be done!), and tomorrow is the big day!

Of course, like most of you who have been teaching dance for years, I know in my head what I’ll need to teach. I have my playlists created. My props are organized. Essentially, I’ve got this down. However, I also strongly believe that “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”

So, I created this little document to make sure I have everything, absolutely everything, I will need to teach a single 45-minute jazz and hip hop dance class to 4 to 6 year old children tomorrow morning.

Like I said, I literally wrote the list, so I’m sure I already know what’s on it. But, when the adrenaline rush hits tomorrow and I’m rushing out of my front door to teach, I will do a quick check of the list, just to be safe.

Click here to grab the Dance Daze® First Class Checklist for yourself, and be sure to check back here at The Happy Dance Blog each week for a new post and likely a new freebie as well.

Have a great week!

Saumirah

Insights from Last Week

I had some great insights in my classes last week that I wanted to share with you!

First, I realized that 1 hour per week is simply not enough to train a budding ballerina! I’ve been working with one of my students for about 6 weeks now, and I simply love how willing she is to work hard at improving her ballet technique. Yet, every class we had together felt so very rushed to me! In each of her classes, I’ve been including floor barre, barre, center, and traveling exercises, and though I’ve written and re-written her classes several times to try to make everything fit better, it simply wasn’t working out. So I spoke to her and her parents about it, and we all agreed that it would be best to not only extend her class time to 90 minutes per class, but also to increase the number of classes she has per week! I’m so excited to begin this new system, where we won’t feel pressured to skip exercises and shorten explanations, all for the sake of time! Now, with 3 hours of training per week, I know we’re going to make great things happen for her!

A ballet dancer doing barre work.

Second, I learned a new trick for getting my youngest ballerina babies to really use the brushing movement of their front leg when doing grands jetés! Many of my young Creative Movement students also take gymnastics classes, so, even at only 4 and 5 years old, they are more aware of how to use their bodies than the average young dancer. This is really helpful for me as a dance teacher. We usually do leaps over colorful noodles at the end of our 45-minute classes. Two weeks ago, I began having them jump over colorful yoga blocks, positioned so that the students have to jump higher to get over them.

Yoga Blocks on DanceDaze.org

This was great to have them understand the feel of really using their pliés to really get off the floor and into the air.  Last week, I wanted them to really start brushing and extending their leg in the air for a greater amount of time. I stared at those foam boxes for a few moments, and it finally came to me: I needed to have them start their jumps farther away from the item they were hurdling! To do this, I needed to have them jump over more than one item.  So I started putting my foot in front of the foam boxes.  This forced them to do several things:

  1. They had to run really fast to gain enough speed to start their jumps farther back.
  2. They had to focus on the actual jump more to make sure they wouldn’t trip over my foot or knock over the foam box.
  3. They had to really throw their leg up in front of them and extend it to get over more than one item.

Still, a few students were afraid to really commit to the jump.  The greater distance required to leap over 2 items was a bit intimidating to them, so they would do half-run, half-skip sort of thing up to my foot, then sort of pretend to jump over my foot and the block one at a time. I can remember having some of the same fears when I was their age.  I think some of my biggest fears were the vault and running and jumping into a forward roll in gymnastics practice. Maybe in the coming weeks, I’ll move away from improving technique and place more attention on dispelling fears.  :)

I’m having so much fun working as a dance educator, and I can’t wait for all the new discoveries I will make as I continue this work that I love!