A teacher knows that teaching children is different to teaching teenagers. The latter have much more energy and can make your class a living hell if you don’t reign them in quickly. The former are sometimes calmer but things can also get out of hand. Both can learn, but they require a different approach.
When teaching dancing, this can vary even more, especially if you are teaching adults. How are adults as students? Are they any different? Here is what you need to know about teaching adults how to dance.
Adults Are not Children – The Good Part
Adults are amazing in the sense that they can understand most of what you are saying, no matter how complex it is. They will be able to communicate better and they will most likely understand instructions quicker. With that, you should be able to guide them in an easier way, as they should know what to do when you correct them. Adults can take criticism and should be easier to communicate with, at least.
When you can communicate with ease to your students, that makes your classes much simpler and takes less energy.
Adults Are not Children – The Challenging Part
Adults are not children, which does not mean that everything will go according to plan. An adult can have obstacles which most children most likely will not have. Being relatively developed people, they might have anxiety or performance anxiety or simply react badly to social interactions and be worse off when you criticize them. Some adults are bad with hand-eye coordination or in most dance cases, leg-eye coordination. Be prepared for multiple squished toes and frustrated partners, as well as embarrassed adult students.
Sometimes, adults require more patience than children would.
Adults Can Communicate Better – Use It
Adults can communicate with you better. They understand how to talk and what they should say in most situations. You can use that to your advantage to later talk to them, ask about their feelings, whether they are shy or scared of making mistakes.
You could also ask the students for feedback, which should help you prepare better for your next class, eliminating the need to anticipate and guess what they might be thinking. Feedback is important and adult students can provide you with it.
Warming Up is Even More Important
If you are teaching adults above 30 and the dance you are teaching is in any shape or form active, you need to warm up. Pulled muscles and torn tendons, not to mention sprained ankles, are what you want to avoid. A thorough warmup should be done prior to working on any actual dance moves. Make sure that your class understands this. Lead through example, you should be warming up with the class, and not just telling them what to do from a pedestal.
Let Them Express Themselves
Since they are adults, they will likely want to simply enjoy their movements rather than focus on the technical aspects.
Technical mastery, speed and showing off is more of a young-adult and teenager aspect of dancing. Adults will want to enjoy the satisfaction of moving to the music, which is what dancing is about, essentially. Encourage their emotional expression.
Teaching adults is much different than teaching children and knowing that, you as a teacher will have to adapt your methods and classes. Adults learn differently, but there are pros and cons to them being students, compared to children.