A guide for dance teachers to successfully conduct engaging classes virtually.
How can we conduct an effective and efficient dance class on Zoom? This is the most commonly asked question asked by teachers owing to the current scenario around the world.
So what are the two common challenges around which all these questions revolve-
1.Technical:- Concerning which platform to use, sound quality, internet problems etc.
2. How to deliver an engaging class and help students improve just as in an offline class.
A lot of information is available with regards to technical challenges. In this article, we will discuss the secondary challenges of delivering an engaging class on an online platform.
Before starting the class-
If you do not have back-to-back classes this is the time when students and teachers log in 5 mins before the class time or the first 5 min of the class.
This is the most crucial time of the class. As in this time, 2 things will be taken care of.
-Getting them mentally ready (bonding and connection building)
– Checking the set-up (camera, lights, sound etc).
Both of them are of utmost importance for the smooth flow of the class thereon.
1. Bonding and connection
– The teacher must be present in the meeting on if not before time. As students enter the meeting, interact with them by taking their names. Let children speak and interact. Make sure you end up taking every child’s name once (it takes less than 1 minute even in a class strength of 30 to 40 students) This is a great time to bond and connect one on one.
Every class keep an interesting question ready.
Example: Which is your favourite song?
Which was your favourite step from last class?
Did you get time to practice the choreography?
2. Set up
-Don’t start before every child’s screen is adjusted so that you can see almost their full body while making optimum use of available space. Ask them to choose a dancing spot and adjust the screen accordingly.
-If the curtains are open in the background, ask them to draw the curtains or you will not be able to see the student and give correction.
-Make sure you are audible and the students mute and unmute themselves as required.
Starting the class–
-Calm The Students Down- Before engaging in dance, ensure that your students are calm, collected and 100% attentive. At this point, it is important to mute everyone. Bring them all closer to the screen and give them their first set of instructions before they move away from the screen to their dancing spot.
– As they stand on their dancing spot and are still moving and fidgety. chances of them losing attention could be higher. In this situation, call them by their names and capture their attention (this should be enough to get them with you).
– Only after you have done the above things, should you play the music.
During the class–
-Give Instructions At Short Intervals- Every 5-10 mins call your students close to their screens and instruct them on what to do next. This will keep them engaged and focused.
Don’t carry on dancing for too long without instructions. This is one factor that is very crucial and determines the level of engagement of the student
– Teaching a new step- If you are teaching new steps the first time, make sure they are sitting close to the screen and watching you before they attempt to do the step. Adjust your screen quickly towards your feet when footwork is being taught and the same for when upper body movement is taught. Make sure it visible.
-Adjusting Dance teachers screen often to bring better visibility and focus is very important.
– Changing proximity to the screen for the dance teacher is also very important. The teacher has to keep going close and far from the screen as and when needed and to increase the engagement.
-The Spotlight tool on Zoom can be a great saviour for all teachers when it comes to giving a child personal attention or using a child’s example or corrections for the rest of the class, as is done in offline classrooms. Teachers should use this tool often to correct, motivate and engage students.
-Musicality – Musicality is a big challenge especially in online dance classes because of technical issues like time lag etc. If you want to tackle this, the only way is to send videos of teachers dancing on music and also detailed breakdown videos to their students demonstrating how to catch beats and sort their musicality. Emphasis on lyrics can also be done to help understand the beat and catch the steps.
-Once the steps are taught, the teacher needs to stop dancing and sit close to the screen and watch students dance and keep giving quick corrections by taking their names. You have to stop dancing with them all of the time and spent a lot of time watching and giving correction if you want students to improve and grow. This will also encourage them to build their memory for dance.
-Mirroring The Choreography- Surely by now all dance teachers have figured this out as this is one of the main issues faced while learning dance online. The issue of orientation (right and left sides). Teachers have to learn the complete choreography on the left side while teaching. In the videos sent by teachers, the right and left sides should either be marked or the video should be mirrored. There are multiple applications like Inshots that very easily allow teachers to mirror their videos.
-Water breaks too must not be forgotten. Just as they are a common practice during offline classes, the students should receive water breaks. Giving 2-3 short water breaks of 1-2 minutes is adequate. Ensure that the water breaks are not too long.
Ending the class–
As you end the class it is a must to bring them all close to the screen and say bye to all the children one on one by taking their name. Ask children who wish to speak to you and who you wish to speak to stay back. Have meaningful one on one interactions with those students at this time.
After the class–
-Send ‘breakdown’ videos after the class immediately if possible. For the optimum learning of any dance routine, breakdown videos are essential. These are videos where the teacher demonstrates all the steps in the routine in a detailed step by step manner so that the students can easily learn and follow.
– Just like in an offline class we speak to students and parents (after school classes) especially for students who need more attention. If you want to connect to students in a way that they start learning. Call such students up and give them positive reinforcement with your expectation in class. This helps a lot in building connection in class and you would see them immediately start responding in class as you call out their name.
Some more tips-
- Breakdown Videos- Breakdown videos mentioned above are a compulsory prerequisite when it comes to virtual dance classes.
- Duration Of Choreographies- Since classes are being held online, the choreographies should be changed often. This will keep the students engaged and interested in the dance class and will prevent monotony.
- Another tip that can be used while teaching dance is that the songs used can be chosen by the students themselves. As long as they are appropriate, the teachers can use these songs.
- Whenever due to technical problem screen freezes or class get interrupted. Give them a thing to start doing. Eg- hold a plank. revise the choreography by themselves etc.
All the information given above although very thoroughly explains how to conduct an online class, there are a few fundamentals no teacher must let go of. Simple practices followed in offline classes like praising an exemplary student or motivating one who is struggling, giving apt feedbacks and assessing learning must not be forgotten. In fact, they must be given more emphasis as a virtual environment is not a natural learning environment for any student. So these practices must be followed especially on a virtual class, in order to facilitate the best quality learning.
Dance is the most fundamental way of expressing joy. In times like these when we are all indoors, dance is an activity that can help individuals of all ages feel relieved and alleviate a lot of stress that we are all under. So we at Agile Kids hope that this helps all the dance teachers out there carry on successfully with their virtual dance classes and continue to spread joy.