Q: I have a hard time getting students to apply corrections. It feels like I say the same things over and over again. What do you recommend?
A: I know that some days as teachers we feel like broken records, constantly repeating ourselves. But if you approach corrections from a positive place, your students will feed off your energy and not take these critiques as personal insults.
We have a special trick that we use at our studio, beginning when dancers are 6 and 7 years old. For corrections, our teachers use the imagery of gold. A correction is a very special gift the teacher gives you (the “gold") because she believes in your talent and ability to grow as a dancer. We tell our dancers that if they apply their corrections—if they use their gold—the teacher can give them more later, and over time they will become better and better dancers. When they're given a critique, we even have them cup their hands, as if they're receiving the gold.
It's also important to take note when students apply these corrections. When we see students making improvements, we verbally acknowledge and praise their efforts, and the whole class claps for them. This is a huge incentive for the dancers—they want to use their gold.