Dancing is a very special thing to teach students, where not every student will be able to grasp every move and motion the same way. With that, a teacher will have to adjust their attitude, depending on the student and on the situation in class. Not every class should be treated the same way, and not every student can be approached in the same manner. The two main ways to approach a dance class are friendly and authoritative. Which one should you use and when? Here are my thoughts on the subject.
Authoritative – Every Class Needs Authority
There is no such thing as a class which will listen all the time. Some people do not react well when you are meek and appear a pushover. Students, at least some of them, like it when they are told exactly what to do and when they are corrected immediately. Some will feel shameful if you correct them outright and call them out, while others will appreciate it.
An authoritative approach does not mean that you should be mean to your students, but that you should set up your class so that everybody knows that you are the instructor and that they are there to learn from you.
Unruly students will not be tolerated, which also does not mean yelling at them nor being mean towards them. Giving them an exercise to perform, now that is another thing altogether.
Friendly and Approachable – The Instructor/Friend
Students like teachers who are relatable and with whom they can connect. Now, you cannot connect to everybody but you can be friendly and supportive, and have your calm voice be the one that the students will enjoy hearing. A shoulder fix there, a reminder not to dance out of tempo here and the students will know to respect you for treating them like rational beings and not being a drill sergeant towards them. Not everybody will react to this approach well. Some students need a stern talking to.
When to be Authoritative?
Whenever a class starts getting out of hand, the instructor should use their mighty voice to calm the situation down. Whenever some of the students start misbehaving, particularly towards other students, then the instructor should interfere. Once more, authoritative does not mean being angry and yelling at one’s students. A firm voice that accepts no talk backs or eye rolls is enough.
When to be Friendly?
A friendly instructor should surface whenever a class starts getting thoughts of doubt. Reinforcing your students with a positive tap on the shoulder or remarks about how they mastered some basic movements, can make them find their confidence again. Students should not be feeling bad when they cannot learn a move and this is when teachers should be friendly and supportive.
Dance classes ebb and flow, so teachers must as well, between being authoritative and friendly.