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 Post subject: Teaching and problem kids hehe
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:40 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:13 pm
Posts: 8
Location: England
Hey's been a while since I posted on here.

Anyways...I got called in to do some student teaching at short notice tonight as my teacher was having car trouble and couldn't get to the the studio in time but it was too late to cancel.

Anyways...I think I taught really well and the majority of the students enjoyed my lessons, however, there was one young girl who was rather disruptive and wouldn't really take part. I feel I handled it well but it doesn't help when children at a young age are easily influenced by mischievious students, lol !
Her Mother, following the lesson, came to me personally and apologised for her daughter's behaviour which I really appreciated but I was just wondering:

-How do you tend to handle students that have days like these and don't particularly want to do much ?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:48 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 3602
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
I tend to ask the child directly if they feel their behaviour is appropriate. Even quite small children can understand what is good behaviour in class and what is not and just drawing attention to what we expect can make all the class think.

With some children the opposite works, ignoring the bad behaviour and encouraging the good. If you are giving positive comments to the rest of the class then quite often the disruptive child will cotton on to this and realise they need to change their behaviour in order to get rewarded.

Also a time out can do wonders. Get the child to sit out fofr a couple of minutes and to think about why they are sitting out. Before joining them back into the class explain what you expect from them and let them know that if this doesn't happen they will go back out to their parent and not join in the rest of the class.

We all have students like this and probably as you were new she was just seeing how far she could push things. At least the parent is aware and can see the behaviour is appropriate.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:49 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:13 pm
Posts: 8
Location: England
Thank you Joanne, for your brilliant reply.
You've given me lots of good advice for the future.

With this situation, I didn't ignore the child but I didn't pay any attention to her bad behaviour as I gathered she was seeing how far she could push me and I didn't back down so like you suggested, I gave really positive comments to the rest of the class, which helped a little but didn't solve it..heehee!
Yes, it was rather hot weather and I didn't expect them to be bouncing around and at their most energetic but it wasn't difficult or new work and at the end of the day I do expect them to behave properly within a dance class which the majority of the students did.

I mean, how harsh/strict should I be with them for saying I am only a student teacher, my dance teacher says I shouldn't be scared of being strict but I'm still not sure?!
-What do you guys think?

Thanks again x x

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:02 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 3602
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Don't be afraid of being strict -`dance after all is a discipline.

And it doesn't matter if you are a student teacher or not. Your teacher obviously thinks you are capable enough to run a class and therefore the students should respect that. You will certainly have more knowledge than the students have and in a class situation they are there to learn and have to learn respect for the person facilitating that learning.

It is difficult to begin with and you will find different approaches work for different students. You sound like you are doing a great job already.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:29 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:13 pm
Posts: 8
Location: England
Thanks Joanne for your once again very helpful response.
You've given me a lot more confidence and imporatnt knowledge.

I absolutely adore teaching when I get the chance and it's definately something I want to do in the future.

Are they any warm-up, dance based "games" that you can use for younger students? (for either ballet, tap, modern)
Or has anyone got any tips or tricks in making the lessons that little bit different?

Thanks a million x x

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:55 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:29 am
Posts: 17
Location: USA
p.d. :
I'm a parent, not a dancer or teacher, so I'll echo Joanne's points, with a different perspective.
First, congratulations on the start of your teaching career! Even if the start came on short notice, and things didn't go perfectly, you are to be congratulated. Your teacher and the studio trusted you in this situation, and it sounds like you held up your end of the deal quite well.

That the mom apologized to you afterward indicates to me that she understood your difficulties, and appreciated your effort. When you become a regular teacher, rather than a substitute, you'd be able to use that after-class conversation to lay the groundwork for the timeouts that Joanne suggested might become necessary. "It may be that in the future, I might have to ask your daughter to sit for a while to calm down, or even to leave the classroom for the rest of the day." Said nicely, rather than threateningly, of course. Most parents, this one probably included, would appreciate the openness and effort. With the younger dancers, they view dance as a way to develop traits applicable outside the studio (grace, memory, discipline) more than to prepare the child for a stage career. Thus, most will support your effort to devlop that discipline in their child.

There are, unfortunately, some parents who would object: "I paid for her to learn to dance, so she dang-well better be dancing." "Yes, but the studio and I have an obligation to the other students: We ensure that the class is run productively for all."

You suggested that other children were, or could become, easily influenced by the disruptive one. Consider having a game activity at the end of class as a reward. "If the whole class behaves really well, we might be able to play Jack-jump-over-the-candlestick," Even a shoe could be a good imaginary candlestick. For older dancers, free dance and student choreography can be an incentive. Einstein said that "a good joke should not be repeated too often," and this reward, too, should be used sparingly so the children don't learn to expect it.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
Frank N.

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 Post subject: From my "Notebook 2 Teachers."
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:42 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 688
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
Here are some fun and successful ideas that work well with the younger crowd. You could incorporate one or two of these into a regular ballet class for beginners.

for pre-school age and young children, ages 4-7 CREATIVE DANCE

Creative Dance is the use of technique, steps, imagination, ideas, and music presented in a fun and positive way to help introduce children to the many aspects of dance and dance training. Pre-Ballet generally follows the outline of a technique class but still may incorporate creative dance to help stimulate and underscore the points being made.

In teaching pre-school and school-age children, it is helpful to keep in mind several things. One of these is their age and relative inexperience. The other is, for the most part, you the teacher are and have been their only exposure to classical dance training. It is important to teach and give them as much as possible in the little time we have them with them each week. Three main goals in teaching these classes stand out:

1. Learning Technique. While children at this level are too young physically for a strict ballet technique class, it is never too soon to expose them to some of the basic positions of the feet, port de bras, simple movements and steps AND to the concept of good posture and alignment.

2. Self-Motivation and Progress. In a positive way, the standards of the ballet can be introduced and reinforced each week -- thing such as the etiquette of taking class; being on time, properly dressed and groomed, listening and following instructions, remembering steps, step names and movement, and accepting constructive criticism. Positive reinforcement helps to make them want to improve. This is one of the marvelous functions and benefits of Creative Dance.

3. Musicality. Through the use of music in class, they become aware of its importance in dance and of their own responsibilities to be able to count and fully use music. Music is one of the innate joys of dancing. A drum, recording and/or live music may all be used most effectively in class and these enhance the love of dance in the child.

All in all, students learn that both ballet and music have their respective rules and by learning and following these, the joy of the work is to be found and experience.

The ideas and movement exercises and games presented here as well as the general outline of the class were developed by the author, except where noted, over a period of about 10 years. All that is needed at first is you and the children. Later, additional materials such as musical instruments, props and costumes may be added, thus adding to the magic and wonder of the class.

Sit on the floor, with the legs crossed to begin.

1. Posture and Alignment. This is a game where the students pretend to be a beautiful princess and in the case of boys, a very handsome prince. They, of course, are wearing crowns on their heads and everyone has to be as tall as they can possibly be. The teacher and each individual can them tell each other what their respective crowns are made out of. For example – gold, cat whiskers, paper, or magic wishes.
Uses: ideas, imagination, strength
Teaches: posture, focus of thought and idea

2. Breathing Exercises. This is a game to help them strengthen and become more aware of their “tummy” muscles, as all dancers must have strong ones, explaining to them that this is then good from them, too! The basic rule is that the may take only one full, big breath and must use only that one and to stop when they are through themselves and that it is okay to do so because everybody will be finishing at different times. The exercise is as follows:

1. Hissing to sound like a snake or a leaky balloon.
2. Blowing out 100 candles of a very large birthday cake.
3. Singing three different sounds:
1. AHH
2. OHH (nice and deep and low – “like a man”)
3. EEE (with a great BIG, beautiful “sunshine” smile)

Uses: the function of breath control, idea, strength, technique
Teaches: toning and strengthening of the abdominal wall and the importance of strong muscles and how we use class to improve them; that class time becomes a productive time

3. Touch Game. This is a fun exercise where the students learn and/or review where all of their body part are. The teacher calls out the name of a body part and the class responds by touching that part with their hands. The teacher should demonstrate, especially at first. Pausing verbally slightly before calling out the name of the part heightens the student’s anticipation and concentration and adds more energy to the mix. After the class has been introduced to all of the body parts, tell them you are going to try to “trick” them to see how well they are listening by having them do what you say and not what you do (call out “nose!” for example, but touch the shoulder instead).
Uses: ideas, concentration
Teaches: body parts, the importance of listening well to what is being said and the importance of following directions, helps to increase attention span
Hint: Have them say together with you the names of the body parts they are unfamiliar with. Game may be varied by adding the concept of right and left. For example, “lift your right elbow!”

4. Circle Movements. Dance uses circle movements and shapes with different parts of the body by making paths in space and on the floor; this explains to the students why we do this game. The rules are to circle just the named body part, to go in at least two directions (teaching them en de hors and en de dans), and to use at least two different speeds. After they have done it a couple of times, see if they can help you find some body parts that can be circled. Then, together, find some that cannot circle such as the ears or nose. Try to be sure that they do both sides as this teaches them the importance of practicing both sides. The order that I like to take when working with a new group is: hands, arms, head, foot/feet, and then add any others.
Uses: idea, introduction to technique
Teaches: circle and the importance of it in dance, the idea of isolations and of the body circling in space, directional change
Hint: use speed variations and different-sized movements on occasion and try unusual combinations such as “fast and small” or “big and slow.”

5. Reach for the Sky. The whole class reaches up to the ceiling one arm at a time, then with both arms for a “fun” or “edible” object (such as ice cream or stars). After both arms are stretched up, bend over SLOWLY with the teacher to touch the floor. Then, we make “creepy crawly” creatures with our “wiggling” fingers and try to stretch forward “one more inch!” – three times total.
Uses: idea, imagination, technique
Teaches: “pulling up,” application of one exercise to another
6. Washing Machine Agitator. From the above game, have them lace their fingers together, turn their hands over and reach ALL the way up to the ceiling. Twist the side-to-side 8 times in a brisk manner, pausing a little bit at the end of each twist. May add what we are washing that day, such as “dirty tights and leotards.” The class may count out loud together.
Uses: imagination, technique, rhythm
Teaches: stretch, exercises in a rhythmic structure

7. Good Toes and Naughty Toes (pointing and flexing the feet and ankles). With the legs parallel and the feet straight out in front and together (aligned) and with the hands on the floor beside the hips, flex and point the feet 8 times and then repeat. The idea for this comes from Gina Sinclair.
Uses: technique, rhythm
Teaches: the importance of stretching and pointing the feet, the alignment of the hip to the foot and of keeping the body still while using the feet and legs by themselves.
Hint: help them individually to make sure alignment is correct

8. Butterfly Wings. With the bottom of the feet together (in “frog” position), move the knees up and down. Start slowly and build in speed and number. Can count out loud.
Uses: technique, stretch, imagination
Teaches: rhythmically structured exercise
Add: a stretch over, so that the nose touches the big toes; twist over to the side so that the chin touches the knee; repeat from side to side.

9. Hide Like a Turtle. (Dévelopée and extension). The legs and knees are together with the feet pointed (good toes!), the arms being wrapped around the legs and the head down and “hiding.” Then, have them “look up out of their shells” and have the hands go to the floor beside them. Each leg is then extended all the way, straight, one at a time, repeating the same leg. Then try BOTH legs together twice, and on the third time, have the hold the legs the try to balance with their arms off of the floor à la seconde. This is a very fun game and children seem to like doing it every time.
Uses: technique, rhythm
Teaches: balance, dévelopée, trying to achieve a goal by doing their best
Hint: fall over backward yourself on occasion, so they know it is “okay” to do so themselves and that it all right not to be able to achieve the end goal immediately.
10. “Frog” Position Sit-Ups. In the “frog” or “butterfly” position, have them reach their arms forward and then roll down and up, 4-8 times.

11. Rock and Roll! In the “frog” position, rock side-to-side 4 times and then roll over sideways onto the back and come up twice. You will end up facing the same direction as you began. Repeat.
Uses: fun idea, technique
Teaches: use of floor for roll and recovery; that the floor is a “friend”

12. Standing UP. Crossing the legs, stand up and end with the feet either in 1st position or together in 6th position and standing tall (remembering they are tall, regal, beautiful princesses or princes with crowns on their head).
Teaches: rising from the floor in the proper manner.

13. Naming & Discovering the Positions of the Feet. Being with feet parallel and having them think of how a book has its pages opened and then have them also similarly open their feet into 1st position. Saying out loud the names of the positions together helps to reinforce what the positions are and makes the children enthusiastic about them as well.
Hint: do not introduce 4th or 5th positions until Ballet I.

14. Plié. Do 4 in the above positions: parallel; 1st; 2nd, with a hold or “stay” in between with the legs straight and stretched. The “stay” helps them to feel their muscles and to make sure that legs are really doing what they are supposed to be doing. Use counting and music whenever possible. They may count out loud together and with the teacher to help get the right counts and rhythm.
Hint: Stress the importance of the plié in dance and of the correct way to do them (knees over toes, arched lifted). One fun idea that may be used is to have them imagine that the “North Wind” should be able, at any moment, go “whooshing” through their legs.

15. Tendu. Tell them this is a “strong” stretching action for the feet and legs. They should go out and stay, in and stay, for 4 counts each action. This again teaches them to “feel” the muscles and to make sure they are doing the “correct” thing. Point out the importance of trying to keep the knees straight – both going out and coming in. For the youngest, 1st position should not be done until they can handle 6th position strongly.
NOTE: Numbers 12-15, all teach the idea of technique, steps, exact positions of the feet and legs, stance, posture and concentration and use of technique, rhythm, posture, and alignment.
16. Stretch Over and Pick “It” Up. (Port de bras en avant; port de corps)
With the arms in à la seconde, stretch over and pick "something" off of the floor, trying to keep the knees straight. If they cannot touch the floor right away, let them know it is okay, and that the most important thing is to try their best and to keep their legs firm. Varying what they pick up is part of the fun: towel, rock, tiger skin, granny's false teeth. Can make a game out of getting their legs pulled up -- "surrounded by cement" or "like big Redwood trees; tall and straight up to the sky."

17. Chalk Box (rond de jambe). This one is a favorite. The outline of the game is: 1) take out a chalk box and roll the lid back, 2) take out their favorite piece [suggest a color], 3) with "super glue," attach it to their big toe, 4) draw circles on the floor making sure they do not break the chalk by keeping a light touch, 5) repeat both directions and do both sides of the body, 6) try other parts such as the head, elbow, nose, top of the head, heels, shoulder, or hip, 7) remove and put away in the box and “properly” put it away.
Uses: technique, imagination, directional change in space
Teaches: rond de jambe, en de hors & en de dans

18. Making the Number "4" (Passé [retiré] and balance). In "sixth" position, have them point one foot so the top of the toe is touching the floor and then pull it to the side of the knee. Try to balance as long as possible. May be done as a "contest."

19. Medium Jump (Sauté) Take four counts to do just 1 jump: 1) plie, 2) jump, 3) land in plié , and 4) straighten legs up. Repeat for a total of 8 times.
Uses: technique, step, stance, posture, strength
Teaches: how to jump properly with control, technique, and rhythm
Hint: take the time to make sure their heels are on the floor in the plié both before AND after the jump, and that the legs are pulled up after each jump.

1. Polka Step Progression (can also do for Pre-Ballet and Ballet I levels). 1) Begin by having them "hold" a beach ball or by "hugging" a tree and walk across the floor "hitting" the ball with their knees, 2) add a jump and this become a skip, 3) add chasse or gallop, 4) combining the two steps, having them do one each, 5) repeat 1-4 in other directions: a. backward, b. sideways.
Uses: step, music, idea, imagination, rhythm
Teaches: combining steps and movements can make something new and different (ballet composé)

2. Leap. Placing an object on the floor, such as an old piece of cloth or a dance bag or even cardboard box, have the class run and jump over the object. May add some fun ideas like the bag is a monster, a mud puddle, or alligator pit.
Use: speed, plie, springing into the air
Teaches: the joy of jumping and that the leap must go BOTH forward as well as up
Hint: add leaping with the addition of a turn in the air, also try jumping backwards, be sure to add later port de bras (holding at this level only their arms in 1st position, so they don't "splat" the arms while they leap)

3. Playdough. Pairing up with a partner, one person becomes the "playdough" or clay, while the other partner is the “sculptor.” The rules to follow are: 1) give them a time limitation, 2) be sure they take turns, 3) the thing they make always has to be something (tree, dog, etc.), 4) YOU make something out of THEM, 4) let THEM make something out of YOU.
Teaches: the possibilities of choreography by making something out of another dancer’s body and also the potentials and limitations of some movements

4. Mirror Imaging. Still in pairs, have them face each other. One is the “leader” now and the other follows. The leader moves slowly while the partner tries to follow the movement as the same time. Let them take turns leading and be sure they stay facing each other.
5. Movement Orchestra. One dancer at a time reflects in this movement, the quantity and quality the sounds the teacher is making. Dancer “freezes” when there is no sound. Dancer tries to move at the same time of the sound, with no delay. Some sound possibilities are: Clapping, whistling, singing, words and sentences, nonsense sound, using different parts of the body to make sounds against each other as in slapping a thigh, or hitting the floor with the feet. Additional dancers may be added as each begins to understand how to do this game.
Teaches: dancing and moving to sound exactly and becoming an instrument for the music

6. Train Game. The class lines up behind the teacher with the last dancer getting to be the “caboose.” The teacher is, of course, the “engine.” Students follow the teacher around the room where ever she goes and copies exactly the movement and sounds (if any) she makes. The dancers try to do it at the same time as the teacher, so there is no “delay.” This game is another one that teaches students the skill of picking up and learning new movement quickly. This is also a perennially fun favorite as well.

7. Port de Bras. Facing the class, lead them through the arm positions, stressing strong, fluid, controlled and beautiful arms.
Teaches: the specific use of arm movements as used in ballet

8. Saying “Thank-You!” with our Bodies. (Rèverence.) Lead them through the proper way to do a bow and a curtsey, explaining to them that this is how we say, “thank-you” to an audience. In class, of course, it’s the teacher who receives the 1st bow and the accompanist (if any), the 2nd bow.
Teaches: that we can “speak” with our bodies, using them as a language and the proper dance etiquette ending for the class – in a positive spirit

NOTE: The class as outlined, easily fills up 45 minutes to an hour. Some other additional educational dance games to try that are good are:

1. Ten Counts/Five Counts. Using 1) low-moving shapes, 2) running, 3) rolling, and 4) skipping, have the class travel across the floor using ten counts of each set. Repeat. Do again but this time in five counts. Athletic and FUN!

2. Shapes. Have them pose in three different levels: 1) high, 2) low, and 3) medium. Add the following feelings to each: 1) high and happy, 2) low and scary) and 3) medium and sad. Repeat and increase in tempo and speed.
Teaches: the addition of feeling and emotion to dancing

3. Things Touching the Floor. Have them balance and pose with various numbers and “supporter” on the floor. Go from 1 through 7. Example for 3 things on the floor: Knee, head, arm. This is another VERY popular and fun one, too!

4. Inch Worm. Have them touch the floor by their feet and “walk” forward with their hands, then have the feet walk forward to meet the hands..

5. Hallowe’en Jump. Have them make a “fist” with their bodies and then jump, exploding into the air with a great, BIG BOO! ! Repeat.

6. Balloon Blow Up. Begin “crumpled” up on the floor and blow “into” the thumb slowly to “inflate” ourselves all of the way up to standing, then “POP” and fall down to the floor, beginning all over again. May add “floating” after “we” have been “blown” up. This teaches a light and floating quality to their movement.

7. Bean Bag Balance. With a bean bag, have them discover different ways of carrying it around, i.e., on the tummy, neck, etc. Have them try walking across the floor with the bean bag on their head and see how long it can stay on. Vary this with either a balloon or with copies of Reader’s Digest.

8. Stuffed Animal Circus. With a stuffed animal each, have them: 1) sitting on the floor, balance it with their legs bent (off and parallel to the floor) and the animal on their shins, extend the legs up and the animal will then slide down into their laps, 2) when the animal is in their laps, spin or turn slowly. This then becomes a Merry-Go-Round! (This courtesy of Donna Fatur.)

All-in-all, teaching Creative Dance and Pre-Ballet can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the teacher and for the student. Through this they then bring with them to ballet technique classes a joy and love of dancing and movement, and are better prepared to meet the challenges of mastering technique that lie ahead.

Dean Speer

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:26 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:13 pm
Posts: 8
Location: England
Dean thank you so much for all of those wonderful ideas.
They will definately be something I think the students will enjoy doing.
Thanks again x x x x

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