Dance Articles > Asking Questions in Class (Some Others Think I'm Stupid)

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by Don Silver, May 28, 2013.

  1. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

  2. manteca

    manteca Member

    Nice article. I also like the blog design.

    As a student:
    When people stop the class and ask sincere questions, I've always felt relief rather than annoyance, because I usually have the same question, and if I already know the answer, the extra time lets me review what we just learned.

    Personally, there's always a small part of me that will hesitate before stopping a class, but I've taken enough classes that I know I'd rather feel stupid in class than keep kicking myself after the class o_O. Oddly enough, in more advanced classes, I'm much more bold about asking questions.

    Regarding teachers:
    It would be interesting if you added some insight into how teachers think about handling questions. How do they adjust their style, how do they structure classes, how does it affect how they present info (what order, how simply do they break it down etc.)

    I really appreciate teachers who have learned to build in pauses and moments in their classes to allow the students to properly absorb/assess information and ask questions. Even better, I love teachers who introduce things simply at the beginning of a class/workshop and consistently come back to those ideas/concepts for refinement through to the end of class. I usually feel like those teachers have already heard a lot of questions, so they have a good sense of the stages students go through when absorbing information.
  3. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Ah, great idea... I'll see if I can add that type of thing.

    Teaching is actually a different art (and science), and something many instructors don't think about.

    While most dance instructors know some details about dancing, too many don't study teaching or learning. Some had great instructors (role models) that they learned from, so they use their methods and that works at some level.

    The stronger ones usually do some work learning about "how people learn", the different learning styles, and spend time refining their teaching over time.

    Mature instructors have had time to hear hundreds/thousands of questions and over time you find ways to build that into your teaching. (Answering the questions in a reasonable order, as part of the lesson.)

    I appreciate the feedback!
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Good blog, and it sounds like you've struck a good balance to asking the right kinds/number of questions.

    As a teacher, I welcome questions and try to remember to prompt for them once or twice in every class (although I do forget from time to time, especially if we're running low on time). I also try to subtly praise people for asking questions to encourage it.

    What I don't like is when people ask questions like, "OK, so how do we do the step?" before I've even had a chance to teach it...I have my own rhythm and order in which I like to present things, so if you wait two minutes, you'll probably get an answer without having to ask. Or, students who are more experienced but retaking the class for review, to kill time, to help out, etc., who ask about technique that's way over the other people's heads, either because they're showing off or they think I forgot to talk about it. I didn't forget. The class just isn't ready for it yet.

    Oh, a couple weeks ago, someone asked me after a waltz class, "What is a twinkle?" Dude, that is more than a 30 second question. Come back next week and you'll learn it. It's one thing to quickly show me a step and ask if you're doing it right, it's another to ask me to teach you a whole pattern or fix a major problem in the 5 minutes between classes.

    I have to be really careful when I take other people's classes (ie., for dances I'm just now learning, like balboa), because I get too inwardly focused on what I need to learn and want to ask questions that are not particularly appropriate for the class.
  5. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    I agree... there is a balance to the asking. I tend to be quieter in the early stages (meaning the beginnings of a class or many times until I take a few classes from someone) before I ask.

    I like to get a feel for how the instructor teaches before I ask to much. If I think it's a general question (meaning I didn't get it and my observations conclude others aren't getting it,) then I'll ask now. I actually find myself asking instructors "do you want questions as we go, or would you prefer them batched toward the end..." That leaves them in control.

    But like you, I generally wait for appropriate points to ask.

    As an instructor, I'm not afraid to say something like: "Great question, but too much detail for this minute, how about we take that off line later... and anybody who wants can join us..."

    Or I'll handle it during "practice time" where most are practicing the material so I can deal with a few people while the others are doing some exercises.

    It may be because I coach other instructors, I'm sensitive to "losing control" of my overall objective. IF the question is an enhancement to the current subject, I'll deal with it on the spot, if it's too detailed for most or better addressed later I'll put it off.

    I don't always get the balance right, but I do consider if any question is an enhancement or a negative overall, and respond with that in mind.

    A constant moving target depending on the materials and the student mix.
    twnkltoz likes this.

Share This Page