When it comes to teaching dance, teachers often find themselves wishing they had 10 more minutes to fit in that final grand jeté sequence across the floor or the last 16 counts of the hip-hop combination they prepared. In a K–12 environment, a time crunch is even more likely. Between increasingly limited slots for arts electives and the challenges of navigating a block schedule, time is a precious commodity. Here, three seasoned K–12 educators share their strategies for making every minute count.
Christina Collins, Owings Mills High School, Owings Mills, Maryland
Christina Collins creates a daily objective for every class.
Class: Dance, levels 1–3, for 9th- to 12th-grade students
Duration: 90 minutes every other day (block schedule)
Pro Tip #1: Use backward curriculum planning. Collins helps write the dance curriculum for Baltimore County public schools. One of her most useful tools is working backward to map out each unit. "One of the things we have done is create a recommended time for how long a teacher should spend on each unit," she says. "We call this backward mapping. We come up with our end goal first and then work from there to see what needs to be done on what day."
Pro Tip #2: Share your daily goal(s) with your students. "When the kids have a specific purpose in class, it makes class flow more efficiently," says Collins. For every class, she creates a daily objective. In addition to conveying it verbally, Collins puts it on a PowerPoint slide that is projected at the start of class. That way her students know exactly what is expected of them right when they walk in the door. Objectives include vocabulary that they'll learn that day or a statement such as, "Students will be able to demonstrate proper alignment at the barre in order to execute a plié and tendu combination."
If she had more time? Collins would delve into student composition and improvisation with her upper-level dance classes.