“I still believe in you.”
Just a short easy line to let them know they still have that validation from you, even when something goes wrong – whether it’s in an exam, a competition, or in class. Mistakes are an important part of learning as we all know, but sometimes its not enough for a child to know this. The mistake can still leave them feeling down for a while afterwards.
That’s where these 5 small words can make everything feel much more positive in their minds, whilst they’re dealing with these big feelings.
“I still believe in you” is not about praising the mistake or making the child feel it doesn’t matter if they keep doing something wrong, it’s about you choosing to believe they can turn things around, and ensuring they know you have that confidence in them.
“You mean, you can’t do that…YET.”
New work is always exciting at first, but for some children it can flag up anxiety if they aren’t as quick at picking things up or have only just begun a new class/grade, for example. Some children often put unnecessary pressure on themselves to be good at everything straight away, and the thought of having to keep practicing over a long period of time can feel like an impossible feat to them – particularly in this day and age of instant gratification.
When a child appears to be feeling this way about a new class or step I have found it helps to encourage them to have a growth mindset about their dancing (and lets face it, about everything in life!) by reminding them often about the magic word YET. Help them relax their anxiety about any struggles they may have with a certain movement, if after much practice they still aren’t quite getting it.
I try to pick up on the aspect of it they ARE doing right, telling them what they just need to do MORE of, and then give them permission (if appropriate) to let go of the problem for now. Plenty of time to master it!
“I noticed something special about you!”
Just think for a minute about what validation does for you. If someone notices something you’re good at, or a small thing you always do without realising, doesn’t it suddenly make doing that thing way more enjoyable?
This absolutely applies to our dancers too, no matter their age or ability. As dance teachers, of course, we’re constantly observing and giving feedback to our students during every class but often it can feel like you’re always saying the same thing and it can start to feel like empty praise.
One week I challenged myself in every class to notice something totally different about a certain pupil – the smallest thing about how they get into position, listened intently, helped somebody else, visibly took a breath and focused as the music began… sometimes it was nothing at all to do with their actual dancing.
It found it surprised them but also proved to be a powerful motivator in their other classes, and for the following weeks!
Highlighting something good you see in someone, even if not connected to a specific talent, might lead them to discover something else important in their life journey! About their personality or approach to others, for example.
I can still remember the day my dance teacher said, “Amy, I can always rely on you to remember everyone else’s dances, as well as your own!” Her words stuck with me for years afterwards and were instrumental in my continued focus on adapting to diverse choreography and my decision to develop my own dance company years later.
“We’ll always be here for you”
What do you say to your eldest students when they’re ready to fly the dance school nest? Whether they’re off to University, Dance College, full time employment, or moving away… do they feel like you’ll always be there for them – long after they’ve stopped dancing with you? Or does the relationship tend to come to a natural end when they leave for their next chapter?
Do the students that go on to pursue dance careers often come back to visit you, perhaps to deliver an inspiring workshop to your current students? Or to take part in a technique class when they’re in between dance jobs?
And the ex-students that don’t go on to pursue a dance pathway, do they still come and support your performances, help back stage, or keep involved some other way?
For us, we still think of our ex-students as part of the greater family of the school and stay in touch in any way we can. Many continue adult classes, help with shows, costumes, organising, those who’ve become professional come back to deliver masterclasses and holiday workshops (and still often use us as agony aunts!)
The bottom line is, we always want our ex-students to know we love and respect all of them, no matter where life takes them and that, just like a family, we will always be standing here with open arms.
The Groove Child® Dance Syllabus is a refreshing and creative dance syllabus for dance teachers who believe the deeper success of their dance practice ultimately is in raising healthy minded dancers, and awesome human beings. Human beings who go forward in life remembering all the creative and vital life skills they learned through dance. Dance School Owners & Freelance Dance Teachers – we’d love to meet you and introduce you further to the benefits Groove Child brings. Check our full details of the syllabus and our courses at the main website: www.groovechilddance.com