Every year it never fails. You have one child who is off-task constantly, week after week. While you deal with this student, the rest of the students are left waiting. You get little accomplished during class time because of this. You are exhausted and frustrated by the end of the class.
As a teacher, we must plan and intend to control the classroom. We must act as an authority figure. Children crave adult leadership and consistency.
Let’s talk about that word: CONTROL.
I am not talking about being strict, severe, or crushing a child’s enthusiasm and love of dance. I am talking about being fair to all students. The same rules need to apply to everyone, all the time. Expectations need to be predictable and appropriate for the age group. It is possible to remain kind and nurturing but still demonstrate control.
It is also your responsibility to provide a safe environment, both physically and emotionally. A physically safe environment is common sense and easy to identify and correct.
Emotional safety is equally as important, but not often recognized or discussed when it comes to teaching dance. Students want to feel the teacher likes them and cares about them, even if she won’t allow their off-task behaviors. Students need to know that you are looking out for them.
If you are unable to control the class, the strongest students will. Your lack of control will create an environment of emotional insecurity and stress for your weaker students.
You must commit to controlling your class. Commit to being the adult who will provide the stability for your students.
If you have a strong student in your class, try addressing her behavior immediately with this phrase:
“That is not an option. You don’t have that choice.”
Then go right back to what you were doing. It should no longer need attention. You don’t need to raise your voice. It does not reflect your opinion of the child. You are correcting the behavior.
Most importantly, you did not stop class while you dealt with the behavior!
You cannot reward bad behavior with lavish attention.
You cannot punish the children who ARE behaving appropriately by giving attention to the bad behavior.
They will test you. That will never change. Your challenge is to keep your power.