Last week kicked off Groove With Me's fall semester, and I am teaching ballet twice a week. Thursday evenings I teach 15 girls, ages 6–8; and Saturday morning I have 12 girls, ages 5–6. Both classes are an hour and I have an assistant teacher in each.
To begin both classes we played a name game. My 6–8s had a good time with the activity, though I confess it was more for my benefit. 15 new names seemed like an impossible task. We sat in a circle and as I said, "My name is Miss Jenny," I made a circle with my arms. Then, one by one, every student introduced herself with an arm movement. We all repeated each name and movement, every time adding a new name. After saying a name 15 times, you learn it pretty quick! At the end of class I lined everyone up in a new order and quizzed the girls.
My 5–6s didn't have the same affinity for the name game. They didn't understand it, and it died after a few rounds. After teaching more mature students all summer, I forgot how little 5 is! Moreso, some of the younger girls haven't been in school yet, and their English is shakey. Groove with Me is in East Harlem, a widely Spanish-speaking area, and many of my students are bilingual. Last year, one of my youngest students—whose English wasn't fluent at the start of the year—acted as translator for her family. It's truly amazing to watch them learn as the year progresses.
Teaching with an assistant is necessary for large classes. My Thursday class of 15's assistant is Abigail Rosin, Groove With Me's executive director and founder. It's a tad daunting to be the head teacher in her room, but I'm sure she welcomes the time to be a little more laid back in class. She's a much better disciplinarian than I am, so I hope to take some cues from her to set in place on Saturday.
My co-teacher on Saturday, however, asked if this year she can lead more of class. I hadn't realized I had totally taken over, forcing her in a role of silent demonstrator. After we discussed her request, she's going to lead the warm-up and ending games, and I'll do the technique in the middle. Team-teaching is tricky, and hopefully we can work out a system that works for both of us.
Do you have co-teachers or assistant teachers? How do you split up class? What are your roles? What works, what doesn't? Please leave comments below; let's start a conversation and share ideas!
The picture is of my students last year on stage at our Spring recital. Photo by A.E. Fletcher Photography