As teachers, sometimes you may wonder if you need dance lesson plans or not.
Planning a dance lesson is no easy task, and I know that when training to do your teachers through the RAD, they require that you have dance lesson plans for each lesson that you teach while you are in training.
A lot of the time, due to time constraints, we as dance teachers tend to skip this vital step altogether. In fact, sometimes I also run out of time and tend to ‘wing it.’ But while this is ok for some classes, you do eventually find yourself in a spot when there is a lot of lesson time left, and you are out of material to use. Sometimes the imagination even lets you down here and you will feel at loss on what to do with your students.
Being a dance teacher is difficult, as you find you end up working a lot after hours to try and stay on top of things. Most teachers also have families to look after and kids to get to activities, as well as cooking and cleaning to do. The trick is to plan time for your business, and stick to your schedule, just as you would while you are teaching.
Tips On Working Out Dance Lesson Plans
If you teach syllabus, it is a good idea to try and break up the syllabus work into separate steps that you can teach your pupils before you actually put the exercises together. This is a great way for them to perfect the steps first before attempting to put them into a sequence.
For a typical ballet or modern class, I normally always try to do some bar work or centre practice to start the lesson, as this is a great way to warm up their bodies and concentrate on getting the technique right.
I then start with the easiest steps in the syllabus and teach them first, before building up to the more difficult ones.
Make it fun for them. For instance, if they have to do a step hop in arabesque in one of the exercises, take it continuously from the corner. If it is something slow like developes, do them partners facing each other so they can correct each other.
If you break each grade down into lesson plans, you actually only need to do this once, then you can repeat these plans year after year, adapting where necessary and changing what is not working.
Once you have done the initial work for each level, then you don’t have to plan so much anymore, just glance at the lesson plan for that day.
The best time to do dance lesson plans is early in your career when you are not too busy, and then as you grow, you just add more and more.
If you need to plan a specific lesson from scratch, it is best to get up really early in the morning when your brain is fresh and do it. This way you will get it done a whole lot quicker, and with fewer interruptions from outside sources.
Investing a bit of time each day in this will give you a huge return in the long run.
Each year take a step back from your class and decide what overall goals need to be achieved. These goals need to be centred on the success and progress of your students, and planning what they learn and when is the best way to achieve this.
Try to zero in on one specific goal at each lesson, rather than giving too many random corrections at one time. It is hard for learners to concentrate hard on too many corrections at one time, but if they concentrate on one or two, they will be more successful in the long run. Try to apply the same corrections to each exercise, so that the student can link them up and apply to all their work, rather than just a specific exercise.
What If I Am Starting At A New Dance School?
If you find yourself teaching a brand new class that you are unfamiliar with, you will need to have a rough idea in your head to start with on what you would like to teach, and your music prepared in advance. You will then need to get to know you pupils and see how they respond to each exercise you give them. This will give you a good guideline on whether the class is too difficult or too easy, and you can adjust your lessons plans accordingly for the next class.
You will start to see within a couple of lessons what the general level of ability in the class is and go from there.
When Is A Good Time To Start With Dance Lesson Plans?
At the beginning of the year, it is always a good time to start working on those lesson plans. People are always motivated and inspired at the beginning of a year for the year ahead, so you will be a lot more creative.
How To Get Started:
Make sure you have some time on your hands, a good cup of coffee first, and then list the steps and technical progress that you want each class to accomplish during the next year. It also helps to write down why the class would need to get these particular skills right.
Next, divide the list into months and work out how many classes you have with each group to accomplish these goals.
Now divide the months into weeks and work out what you want to achieve for each week.
If doing a concert or festival, use this time to develop the dancer’s artistry.
How Much Should I Put Into Each Lesson?
Most of us tend to put way too much in our lesson plans than is necessary, and then we get frustrated when we don’t get through it all. Although it is always best to have too much planned rather than too little, never rush your students through the class just to get through everything. Work at their pace and a speed which they can handle.
You can always adjust your plan at the end of the month if you find it is too much. Rather make sure they learn something well than rush through and everything is half learned.
Check Your Progress
Every now and then you need to pause and check your work.
Ask yourself if your pupils are improving as you envisioned, or do more adjustments need to be made?
Check the following with yourself:
- Am I presenting the work in a way the pupils can relate?
- How can I improve on this and present new work?
- How can I improve on what they already know?
- How can I get their attention and keep them motivated?
- Can I add new teaching equipment to help my pupils?
- Are my expectations reasonable for the class, age, and level that I am teaching?
- Are my pupils improving, even the weaker ones?
However, you look at it, having dance lesson plans set in place will go a long way to making your work easier and your classes more structured and goal orientated.