Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?
A: Minimizing classroom distractions is a priority for teachers and studio owners. However, today's parent is very interested in being kept in the loop on their child's progress and growth. When it comes to dance class for preschool and elementary-age dancers in particular, we notice that parents genuinely enjoy watching their children participate, try new skills and express themselves in class. If you frustrate parents by making it hard for them to view or know what's happening on a regular basis, you may end up with waiting-room gossip or general dissatisfaction.
To address this issue, we have installed closed-circuit cameras in all of our studios, with a large color monitor in every waiting room. We used a local security company to do the installation, but you can also buy a system from a local retailer and install it on your own. Systems like this allow you to close off any distractions from a door or window, while still letting parents view class from the comfort of the waiting room. We find that the camera does not distract the teacher or student, and when class is over, the parents can share their excitement at having watched their dancers' progress in the class.
Beyond projecting class on a monitor, it's a great idea to schedule a couple of "watch weeks" when parents can come in the room and observe for the last 10 minutes of class. This is a chance for the students to experience performing for a live audience. We really encourage parents to take photos and videos during these classes, and find that they love sharing them on social media.
While investing in technology that lets parents observe class may seem burdensome, it's well worth it. Giving our parents regular viewing without distracting the dancer or teacher has elevated our customer satisfaction significantly.