As spring hovers on the horizon, March is a good time to start thinking about exams and competitions. While good preparation in advance is vital, so is effective interpretation of the results after the event. Whether your students perform flawlessly or fumble, it’s important to help them understand their results in context.
1. Familiarize yourself with the competition’s rules or the examination syllabus. You want to be able to answer your students’ questions and address their concerns. Check the organizer’s website or chat with a colleague who has been through the process.
2. Learn about how to dispute results. You’ll want to be sure you understand the procedure in case you have to explain it to a student and their parents. If you genuinely feel a student’s mark or result is not indicative of her performance, help your student learn grace under pressure from your behaviour handling the situation.
3. Remind your students before the event that no single result is ever the measure of a dancer. Even with the best preparation in the world, performance results are unpredictable, which is why appreciating the journey and experience of preparing should be a reward on its own. If your class or team are preparing to compete or perform together, focus on the camaraderie and the journey you have together, regardless of the end results.
4. Good results are good; encourage your students to celebrate their hard work! But once that exam or competition is over, it’s back to the normal routine. Channel your students’ drive from the event into classes and rehearsals, which can help keep them focussed and ward off post-event blues.
5. There are many ways to view failing an exam. If a student does fail, help them to understand that they simply didn’t meet the requirements that time around. Most exams can be retaken and if a student is trying for the second time, they’ll be that much more prepared.
6. Remind your students that a negative result is not something that will follow them around for the rest of their dance life. The same can be said of success; it’s just the outcome of one day. Either way, they will grow from the experience and learn about performing under pressure, which is an important skill for dancers to develop.
And of course, let your students know that you are proud of them for pushing themselves to tackle an exam or competition! Whether they get the results they wanted or expected isn’t the most important thing. Knowing they have your support will be very meaningful to them, and will help them understand and absorb their results whatever they may be.