In 2019, dance parents are more eager than ever to observe their child's progress, and stay up-to-date with the ins and outs of what's happening in the classroom. That means yearly recitals aren't always enough to keep them satisfied—especially if you have rules against visitors observing class from week to week. The solution? Visitor observation weeks. Trust us, the guardians and loved ones of your students will love you for it!
We caught up with Suzanne Blake Gerety, vice president of Kathy Blake Dance Studios and regular contributor to Dance Teacher's "Ask The Experts" column, to hear her tips on how to have a successful visitor observation week.
1. "At our studio, we are sensitive to the diverse family circumstances of our students. Rather than calling these events, "Parent Watch Weeks, we call them, "Visitors Weeks." Sometimes it's a grandparent or a step-parent who is driving the dancer's education. We don't want to offend anyone with the language we use, so we strive to keep things all-inclusive. These weeks are open to anyone in our dancer's lives who want to observe their dancing. The more, the merrier."
2. "I recommend holding these observation weeks far enough into the season that you have something to present. Have your teachers prepare enough content to fill the 15 minutes at the end of class in which your visitors will be observing."
3. "We have closed-circuit monitors in the waiting rooms of our studio, so that visitors can stay up-to-date with what their kids are working on. So, our watch week is less about bringing them up to speed, and more about providing a special experience that the students and their families can get excited about. That means we make it a bit of an event. We cover the mirrors in curtains and bring chairs into the studios. Dance is a performing art, and this is a great chance for the kids to practice in front of an audience."
4. "We like to use our watch week as a chance to get everyone excited about what's coming down the pipeline. We print out a script for our teachers to read to our parents that informs them of any recital information, costume information and anything else they can look forward to later in the year."
5. "We encourage teachers to use this as a chance to explain what the dancers have been working on. Sometimes parents don't think things are happening in the dance classes because there isn't an instant change in their child. Observation week is a chance to show them the work that you and your dancers really are doing. Parents want benchmarks of progress and teacher explanations can help them see some."
6. "We encourage visitors to take pictures and share them. These photos can only promote your studio's success."