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DanceBiz Blog

For all the latest news and information from DanceBiz and ThinkSmart Software.

Five Steps You Need To Know To Help Dance Students Learn Online
Five Steps You Need to Know to Help Dance Students Learn Online
Thursday, 9th April 2020 ThinkSmart Software

Given the state of the coronavirus pandemic, many dance teachers have had no choice but to close their business locations and work from home. If you're one of these instructors, you've undoubtedly had some hiccups transitioning from the physical world to the digital one. Some of these issues are ones that you might expect - like adjusting to teaching online instead of face-to-face interaction.

One issue that dance teachers frequently run into when getting students accustomed to online learning is preparing them for what they need to do to have a successful experience. With an in-person business, participating in a dance class, it is as simple as showing up, as you have all the tools necessary at the studio to have a successful lesson. With online instruction, though there's quite a bit of pre-requisite work that you need to tell students to do to get the most out of these classes.

Here's a five-step checklist that you can use to prepare your students for online classes.

1. Check Video Chat Software

Whether you're using Zoom, FaceTime, or some other video conferencing software, your students will need to download it and set it up successfully. You may also need to send out a link for joining or exchange user names so you can connect.

Before starting the first online lesson, make sure your students can get the video chat software set up and working correctly. If they run into any troubles, this will give you both time before the first lesson to correct them. There's nothing more discouraging than getting ready for your first online lesson, only to waste 15-30 minutes fixing technical glitches. Make your first experience a memorable one!

If your students are children and aren't able to run the software themselves, then you can ask the parents to install everything before the first class.

Ask the students or parents to have a quick minute call before the first online class to make sure that their connection works and is stable. With COVID-19, internet usage has gone up dramatically, and video services that were once stable are now having issues. Therefore, it's best to make sure the chat software works for both of you!

2. Ensure There's Enough Room

Dance is vibrant and fun! Because of this, it takes a lot of space. Your students will need an area within the house to practice. The necessity for adequate space can be easy to overlook before the first class.

Try and be as specific as possible when communicating with students and parents on space requirements. Try practising some of the moves yourself, noting how much space you need in your residence. Then you can estimate how much space you think your students might need (of course, children will require less space than adults).

By conveying these space requirements clearly, you'll avoid miscommunications and difficulties during the class.

3. Be Mindful of Interruptions

Pets, family members, TV shows in the background, all of these are distractions that might make it challenging for students to focus. Communicate to parents and students to be mindful of these distractions and potential interruptions before your lessons. If possible, they should try and minimize them during the call so that they can get as much quality time with their instructor as possible.

Of course, as the instructor, the same advice goes for you. Ensure that you dedicate the full block of time to the student so they can continuously advance their skills.

4. Write Guides and Distribute Them to Students and Parents

"At 1 pm, can you join the Zoom call? I'll send you a link just before we start."

Many teachers make the mistake of verbally saying something like the above statement. Then, parents and students get busy, and 5 minutes before the meeting, the email link doesn't arrive, the student forgets, and the entire class falls apart quickly.

Take a few minutes to write up a guide! Make sure it includes essential details like:

  • What software to download.
  • How to join the call.
  • What is expected during a class.
  • What equipment is required.
  • How they can reach you if they have trouble connecting.
  • What they need to do if they need to reschedule.
  • What your policy is in case of technical difficulties.
  • Some tips for successful remote learning (like being free of interruptions and distractions).

Create a small guide to assist with participating in online classes and having a successful learning experience. By spelling things out, in writing, you can ensure there are no miscommunications and that everyone knows what to expect.

5. Provide Updates to Parents

If your students are young, you may wish to provide updates via email, text, online platforms or some other medium to the parents on how the student is progressing. One difference with being remote versus being in the studio is that you don't have the same chances to discuss progress with the child's guardians.

When children spend an hour, let's say, at the dance studio, they have confidence that their kids are learning. However, when you switch to online, many variables are more difficult to monitor and control. For instance, communicating with students individually during a class, providing updates to parents, dealing with distracted students, keeping the group of students focused and engaged and monitoring their progress.

By regularly communicating with parents with regular updates and asking them for feedback, you can help ensure that parents remain confident in your ability and you can gauge how your student is progressing. Let parents know you will be sending updates regularly and requesting their feedback.

Transitioning to Online Learning is Feasible

Although the steps above may seem like a lot of behind the scenes work, transitioning to online learning is doable. Many of the steps above revolve around the same theme: setting expectations. When you set the expectations right (what software you're using, when to join, what updates they'll receive, etc.), then you're setting your classes up for maximum success.

Remember, we all know what to expect when it comes to learning in the studio. None of us, though, have the same expertise in online training. We're all learning. By focusing on the steps above, you will help guide students and, if applicable, their parents so they can have a positive learning experience with you during these unprecedented times!

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