Q: I'm observing my teachers this month. Are there specific things I should give feedback on?
A: Your studio benefits from having a set of teaching standards that are the foundation of your dance program. Create a list of criteria that quantifies these traits and provide it to your teachers before observing them. This may include feedback on:
• Are they cheerful and encouraging?
• Are they prepared, organized and on time?
• Are their dress and demeanor appropriate for the age and style of the class being taught?
• Do they create a safe and supportive classroom?
• Are they maintaining appropriate order and respect?
• Are they making corrections and requests in a clear and professional manner?
• Are the students engaged with the teacher, interested in the class and excited to be there?
Quality of classwork
• Do they provide an adequate warm-up?
• Are they teaching the fundamentals of proper footwork and alignment?
• Are they providing skill-building exercises and across-the-floor combinations?
• Is the choreography appropriate for the age and skill level of the dancers?
During the week you've selected for observation, keep your visit purposeful and professional. It's best to stay to the side of the room where you are least likely to distract the students or cause any nervousness. Save all comments or areas you want to address for a private debriefing afterward. Be aware that on any given day, there are variables that are out of the teacher's control, such as sickness, injury or tardiness, that can impact the dynamics of class. For these reasons, you may want to create a practice of observing at various times throughout the year versus one continuous week.
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.