Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Blackstone

Zoom classes have created a host of challenges to overcome, but this new way of learning has also had some surprising perks. Students and educators are becoming more adaptable. Creativity is blossoming even amid space constraints. Dancers have been able to broaden their horizons without ever leaving home.

In short, in a year filled with setbacks, there is still a lot to celebrate. Dance Teacher spoke to four teachers about the virtual victories they've seen thus far and how they hope to keep the momentum going back in the classroom.

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Teaching Tips
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It won't come as news to dance teachers that all good teaching begins with motivation and positive behavior. Without solid behavior management techniques, teachers simply don't get to teach.

As a professor of teacher education at Miami University, I've both taught these research-based techniques and put them into practice—from teen ballet classes to college-level ballroom courses.

Here are four strategies I recommend to keep your classroom focused on learning.

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Teaching Tips
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For dance teachers, it's natural to want to treat students equally. But that doesn't always honor their varying backgrounds, abilities and strengths. To address this, some instructors implement differentiated instruction in their classes, a teaching method that provides students with customized material based on their individual abilities instead of holding them to a single, inflexible standard.

In the dance studio, differentiated instruction could mean teaching for students with multiple learning styles by calling out terms the first time a combination is demonstrated, repeating it with counts, and demonstrating a third time singing the lyrics. Or, it could mean giving different turns to students depending on their prior studies, so that everyone is dancing together but in personally beneficial ways.

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Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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