It’s super late and I shouldn’t be fiddling about on the internet, but I am.
Last week was my second week back teaching properly after about a month off on holiday, doing non-teaching dance things. It was really wonderful to have a good, solid break after teaching every week all year. I came back refreshed and inspired, and having given my own dancing a good kick up the bum. It took me a while to get back into the groove, and to remember that as the teacher it was my job to manage the class (not just coast along with the group as a participant), but I figured it out eventually.
Some important points:
1) I want a weekly rhythm tap class here in Sydney really badly. I went along to a class taught by the only ‘rhythm tap’ teacher in my area and it was AWFUL. Worst teaching ever. Shitty dancing, too. I really enjoyed being a beginner tap dance student at Herrang, and I want that hardcore learning again. But I am very strict about decent teaching.
2) I can’t get enough lindy hop.
Just now, reading back through my blog, I came across the post Student centred teaching – some rough ideas from back in May.
Since I’ve been back in Sydney, I’ve taught with four different teachers, all women, teaching at three different venues, and six different classes. Wowsers, that’s HEAPS! Anyway, it gave me a chance to revisit some of my ideas about teaching, and as per usual, I learnt a lot from comparing and learning from different teachers.
The thing that really struck me, in teaching with all these people, that this is perhaps the most useful thing I know about teaching: make people laugh. And laugh yourself. The next most important thing:
Talk One Thing, Do That Thing.
After answering a student’s question, or offering one tip, we dance on it immediately. Only give one tip at a time.
If you wait, they forget. I usually answer a question, then say “Ok, let’s test it out” and we all dance on the issue to figure it out.
(From that post above)
This rule keeps me from talking too much, and it keeps us all dancing more. I really like the ‘lets test it out’ approach, as it’s a nice way of saying “Let’s see if this thing I just said really is true.” And it’s a good way for people to see if they understand what we just talked about.
But I love this: say one thing, do that one thing. It really does stop you bullshitting on.
One thing I’ve learnt over the past few weeks as we approach the Winter Ball: teaching routines by drilling is fucking boring. One of the women I taught with told me they’d been teaching routines by devoting the last 15 minutes of their weekly class to the routine. I reckon that’s a great idea. I’ll try it. But god, drilling routines is boring. I really am a social dancer at heart.
Our routine is looking quite fabulous, though, and I’ve been super mega excited by the students’ whole heartedly embracing styling and improvisation. We ask them to put their own flavour into various sections, and they Bring it with massive enthusiasm. It’s very exciting to see. Especially as they maintain good, solid rhythms while they do all this playing.
We are combining our solo and lindy hop classes, and had originally intended for the two groups to dance two separate parts, but they all want to do everything! Except the hardcore solo people who are all ‘solo before everything else and also yolo!’ who do not want to lindy hop. This brings me even more pleasure. I am very happy with the routine (good song, simple moves, but with nice transitions and some very good, strong rhythmic work), and the students are just the best. We have all enjoyed the process, which is important, and hopefully we’ll have a ball performing. Good times!
Something else: it’s time to do some hard work in our solo class. Time for the Big Apple again, I reckon.
I love lindy hop.