“Don’t flex your feet!
“Don’t stick your butt out”
“Stop talking in class”
These phrases are constantly being said in all types of dance (and other) classes. We’ve said these lines so many times that we become numb to how our students are receiving them.
Today I listened to a seminar from a corporate training expert and he really opened my eyes to communicating more efficiently with all ages of people you may be teaching, coaching, or managing.
…And The Main Point Is
When you tell a student “don’t flex your foot on your battements,” you’re leaving room in their minds for a number of scenarios. They’re thinking “Okay, I will stop doing that…. now what?” We don’t want to leave limitless options when what we really want is a single outcome.
A better way to get students to improve their technique or class behavior is to tell them exactly what you want- not what you don’t want. An example that was obvious (and shared with us) is when kids run at the pool. It’s dangerous and we need them to stop, but when a parent shouts “Stop running!” the kid typically stops, thinks, and presumes walking as fast as possible, missing the entire point of slowing down at a pool.
The alternative “I want you to walk” leaves no room for interpretation. This change in messaging and communication takes no more effort than repeating the common “don’t run,” but it can do wonders in classes and situations of all kinds.
So let’s think of a few examples of how we can start changing our lingo:
Don’t flex your foot – I want you to point your foot
Don’t stick out your booty in plies – I want you to keep your booty in during plies
Don’t talk while i’m talking – I want you to be silent while i’m talking
Don’t hang on the bars – I want you to stand, facing away from the bars in between combos
This leaves zero room for interpretation and has been shown to work really well on students of all ages. I challenge you to give it a shot and see if you notice positive reactions. This could be the factor that helps you and your students get off to an exceptional year.