Ask the Experts: Keeping Up Attendance

Q: I need help crafting e-mails and the text on our website to encourage students to come to class. Do you have any tips on how to keep up attendance?

A: Creating a studio culture where consistent class attendance is the norm requires ongoing communication with students and parents. We find that while parents of recreational dancers usually consider dance class a fun and healthy activity, their children’s academics, school activities, siblings’ schedules and family events often cause them to miss class. Since the absences are generally tied to circumstances the student cannot control, we avoid rewarding regular or perfect attendance. Instead, we created a very flexible makeup-class procedure. This way, parents don’t feel that tuition is lost, and their child can easily participate, regardless of what circumstances arise.

The way it works is this: On our website, in e-mails and during the registration process, we use an upbeat, positive tone to clearly state our expectations regarding attendance and our makeup-class policy. If a student has been absent for two classes in a row, we send a friendly e-mail: “We have noticed you have not been in your [day/time/style] class recently. Attendance is very important for students at every age and ability level. Please make every effort to attend all classes, and when absent, please call ahead to inform the office and arrange a suitable makeup class at a time that is convenient for you. We look forward to seeing you in class next week!” The teacher or office manager then makes a follow-up phone call to reinforce our concern.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

 

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.