Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Time Management: Or Why It's Called A DANCE class

Studies have found that the most effective classes in a school environment all have one thing in common - as much time as possible on the matter. This also applies to teaching lindy hop. To learn lindy hop the best way for the vast majority is dancing itself, combined with feedback and error corrections. It is unfortunately quite easy to lose lots of time on other things. This article covers the basics of time management for classes, so you can maximize dancing time and hence learning time.

First there are a few things that fit best the category organisation. It might not be visible, but this group does take a lot of time.

  • Setting up the group, lines or circles?
  • changing partners: who rotates and when?
  • locally, you might have to check people in, e.g. stamping some booklet
  • locally, you might be informing your students about current events

The first two points can be reduced to one by making up your mind what you want before you start class and then giving clear instructions.
The third point is a little bit trickier. What you want to avoid is that you are checking in people 15 minutes into the class. If you can get your students to come 10 minutes before class starts, you can check in your students then. Else, you might want to check the late coming students in after class, or find someone else that does it for you. It does stay disturbing though, even if someone else does it.
Pointing out local events is a great action and I love doing that when teaching local classes. Just make sure, it's not in class time, but afterwards.
The elements in the above list are examples. There are more organisational things. Think about what you do, and find a way to handle them more efficient. Always try to move organisational elements out of the classroom. If it is organisational regarding the way you conduct your class, decide beforehand and then apply in class. Deciding before class will have the nice side effect that it frees your mind for relevant dancing issues.

Then there is another group of stuff, that is hard to find a topic for. Let's called it mixed.
  • talking time
  • getting stuck on a specific problem that only one couple/person has

This list could also be extended, but they seem to be the biggest two points to me. Talking time is not dancing time. Chose well what you want to say, say it, and free the rest of the time for dancing.
If you notice that a problem concerns only one couple tell them that you're going to answer their question in person during the next song (and do so :)).
Almost last, when you plan your classes calculate time for actual dancing, not only getting through the material.
Last, starting on time is always a good idea. If you train yourself to start on time, your students will know that as well. This way, you don't lose 5 to 10 minutes every lesson.

Enjoy your next dance class! :)