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!

Immersing Myself in the Dance Community

If you’ve been following me online for the past few months, you may have noticed that I’ve been doing a little re-branding. Besides adding (read: squeezing in) a few new hobbies–such as USTA tennis, recently returning to blogging, and, oh, launching some new projects–I’m still doing most of the same activities I was at this time a year ago.

I’m still having a blast in my innovation-focused doctoral program, I’m still running Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, and I’m still a proud dog mama of the most perfect rescue pups in the world. But I’m being more intentional about the lens through which I see and do just about everything. This way of thinking definitely applies to a few areas of my life, but the lens I’m speaking of now is my lens as a dance educator and dance business owner.

When I was applying to doctoral programs in education, I knew that I wanted my research to focus on dance education in some way. Now, I know that I want to specifically focus on creating more opportunities for dance educators by researching/creating/highlighting the best training programs for dance educators in the United States.

Last summer, when I participated in the Sacramento Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program, I knew that I wanted to have a fun experience, get a little bit back into dancer shape, and gain some new ideas surrounding choreography, improvisation, and contemporary dance. After participating, though, I was reminded of the importance of continuing professional development for dance educators.

When I spontaneously signed up to participate in the Dance Ed Lab‘s introductory course in Los Angeles, California, I was excited to get a refresher of Laban Movement Analysis, synthesized in a way so that I could immediately bring fresh ideas back to my dance students in Dance Daze studio classes and in Dance Daze in Schools classes. After participating, I was reminded of how important and transformative the work of dance educators is, and I felt even more compelled to continue doing the work that I am doing.

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Last Friday, May 17, 2019, when I had the pleasure of being one of 13 individuals chosen to be on the Subject Matter Advisory Panel for the new California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) in Dance, I went in feeling honored to do important work for dance educators throughout my home state of California. I left feeling incredibly proud to be part of a community of thoughtful, intelligent, passionate, educated individuals who use movement education to bring goodness, celebrations of diversity, hope, and opportunity to our world and to the next generation.

So today, I’m doing a happy dance because I’m so very grateful to be a member the dance community in California and a member of the dance community all over the world.

 

Making Space for Creativity in Your Dance Class

It’s okay to sometimes be a little uncomfortable when you’re teaching. This might sound surprising to some, but it is a fact that I’ve found to be true. I have found this sentiment to be most true when I am working to allow space for creativity in my dance class. Now that I’ve said that, let me give you a little background.

As an elementary teacher for 6 years now, I have spent several years working to find my teacher voice, establish my authority in the classroom, develop my warm/strict mechanisms, and to really just own the idea that I am the “expert in the room” (a validating phrase that I heard frequently at one organization where I taught for two years). But with all of that, sometimes we forget about allowing kids to create. We forget about all of the detailed lessons based in the theory of constructivism that we developed while training to become educators. We forget to make space for our students to experiment, take calculated risks, and to build in their own learning environment.

Also, besides forgetting, sometimes we just get comfortable. We get into a groove, our students enjoy it, we get positive feedback and no complaints (classroom teaching heaven, am I right?), and we decide to not fix what isn’t broken. The problem with that is: stagnation. I believe I heard recently on one of the podcasts that I listen to: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Call us dramatic if you want to, but I’d bet that for most of us creatives, not moving or making causes us to feel like there’s a piece of us that isn’t really living. (#createordie)

Since we artists, educators, and creators have the intention to always be growing, learning, and making, we have to allow our students to do the same. We have to let them discover the joy that comes from ideating, making, and re-making.

So, let’s get uncomfortable. Sometimes, this can be as simple as adding a song to your class that fits within your lesson plan, theme, or unit, but that might not give you the desire to move in a way that is comfortable for you. It could be as simple as slowing down or speeding up the tempo to a piece, changing the direction of a movement, or releasing some control during a portion of class and passing the ownership of the learning completely to your students.

When you allow yourself to be uncomfortable and force yourself to create in an unfamiliar space, you are modeling successfully working through unfamiliar experiences to your students. You are encouraging problem-solving. You are demonstrating new ways to compose dance using various movement elements. You might even simultaneously challenge and empower your students to trust their skills, in movement and in life, even when the unexpected occurs. And, in the process, you might remind yourself that you have the power to do the same.

Cheers to the discomfort! Let’s keep creating.