September is an exciting time of year. As the academic school year begins, so do most extra and co-curricular programs. First-day jitters are a natural part of any new activity. From the first-time student to the teacher facing a new group, everyone has nerves to overcome on their first day. Below are some tips to start your year off on the right foot.
1. The key aim of your first day in the studio is to build a sense of trust and community. That initial day sets the tone for the year, so make an extra effort to include everyone. .
2. An orientation day is a helpful way to start off the year. Seeing the studio, finding the change rooms and meeting teachers and staff in advance can help reduce anxiety on the first day. Parents may also consider doing a dry run, complete with packing a dance bag and travelling to the studio, so everyone knows what to expect. .
3. Parent involvement is a crucial aspect of most dance classes, especially those for younger students. Establishing a parent committee creates a great network for everyone, enabling easy communication about everything from fundraising to carpooling. Involving parents in your dance studio’s community also helps create support for the students. .
4. Review your class list before your first class. You’ll develop some familiarity with the students’ names, along with a sense of class size and proportion of girls and boys. .
5. In the first lesson, consider playing some icebreaker games as a way to get everyone moving and talking. A great circle game involves each participant creating a movement to go with their name. Not only does this help with name retention, it allows students and teachers to be silly together and start building a community bond. .
6. Teaching and learning dance involves touch. Plan a “touch” demonstration to show your students how you will use your hands to correct body alignment, coordination and movement quality. This is important to communicate to students right away to establish open communication. Encourage students to articulate their comfort levels with respect to touch.
7. Explain to your classes that questions and corrections for one student should be listened to by all. Everyone stands to benefit from a question answered or a correction given, regardless of who is directly addressed. .
8. Most importantly, maintain a flexible and open-minded approach. You won’t know how a class will perform or the levels of your students until you’re in the studio together. Open-mindedness will ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.