One of the most valuable resources in a dance class is time. You’ve probably felt the absence of it when you had a great class plan that you were about to embark on the next step of… only to discover you have less than 10 minutes left in class.
If you’ve been wondering about some ways to save time in class, this post has you covered. Here are 5 tips to save time in your dance class.
1. Simplify verbal explanations
Verbal explanations are often a place where time can be lost. This tip is from teaching discussion notes at Lindy Focus 2019, figure out where things are said twice, can be said once. The example they provide is using the term “outside foot” instead of having to address each role separately with “the leader’s left foot and follower’s right foot”.
Another way is to take a critical look at your explanations in and eliminate unnecessary parts where you don’t see students benefiting enough for the investment. For example, will a brand new student benefit more from hearing a detailed explanation of how the foot strikes the floor for each beat of a rock step or trying it a bunch to music?
2. Remove any unnecessary verbal explanations
Speaking of students trying things, there are many movements and concepts that students will get quicker trying themselves and getting feedback after instead of having it broken down in specific detail at first. One way to save time on a verbal explanation is avoid providing it at all if it isn’t necessary.
If you use a solo jazz warmup at the beginning of your classes a common way to tackle this is to add any movements and footwork you plan to use later in the class. This way students have several reps in before you get to the part of class you “officially” teach it.
3. Use a watch or remote to play music
Dance teachers often spend time running back and forth between a sound system to play music. There’s the even the comical situation where one teacher is closer to the laptop/phone but it is their partner’s device which they are unfamiliar with and they struggle to figure out how to stop or play the music.
One way to save time in class to have a watch or remote for sound system so you can control it wherever you are in the room. I picked this tip up during a rehearsal from a friend who is also a group fitness instructor.
I’d recommend the watch because you don’t have to worry about having pockets and often it gives you more control over song selection. Having a watch to control the sound system appears to be a common practice in the fitness class world and I hope to see it become more common in dance classes as well.
4. Plan your class music in advance
I cannot tell you how many times from international traveling instructors to local dance teachers I have seen lose time by debating with their partner in the middle of class which song to use. Sometimes the indecisiveness gets to the point that it feels like a group of friends trying to pick which restaurant to go to. We all know how long that can take.
You and your teaching partner should pick songs in advance that you are both happy to be used in class. Often when I have seen this go awry is when one person is designated to take care of music in class and then the other teacher realizes that their partner’s musical choices weren’t exactly what was in their vision for class.
5. Avoid long meandering answers to questions
Particularly in lower level classes you will get a question as a teacher that you know doesn’t have a quick and simple answer and often will bring you on a long verbal tangent. A common example of this is, “How do you tell the difference between 6 count and 8 count moves?”
Two ways I would recommend tackling this are having a concise answer prepared for this type of question or saying something along the lines of “On a simplistic level it is X, but I can talk to you after class about a more detailed answer”. The nice thing about the second option you acknowledge the student’s question while still prioritizing the experience of the class as a whole. The second solution only works though if you have time after class. If possible it’s always good to have some time after a class so you can take questions from students and also debrief with your teaching partner.
I hope this guide helps, if you have any additional tips of how to save time in dance class room please feel free to share it in the comment section below.