Swing Discussion Boards > Need some teaching tips?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Holiday, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. Holiday

    Holiday New Member

    I have an intermediate class consisting about 70 students. 1/3 or them have been with me for at least a year, but the remaining 2/3 are fresh recruits who have done swing but never did lindy before. I want to give everybody something to work on but the range of students in this class is too broad and I don't have the resources to add on another class.

    Should I always strive to find the middle ground which would be great for the newcomers at the risk of losing my veteran students? Or should I give them two nearly identical routines to work on, one easier than the other, so to challenge the more experienced students? Last week I was criticized for teaching too slowly and this week I'm criticized for kicking their butts too early in the season. I feel like I want to reach all of them, but in a way I know I'm going to lose a bunch of them because I need to teach to the skill level of the majority of students.

    One good thing that came of my class this week was that I got a couple of my newcomers to go back down to my basic class. I told them it's not remedial but progressive so they should learn something new every month. Only problem is I have like 150 students at that level. (Thank goodness I have 8 other instructors and assistants to help me in that class. :shock: )
  2. d nice

    d nice New Member

    THat is an excellent class size Cody, congratulations!

    I've found that using basic routines that have a variant and somewhat more complicated step that can be used in place of one of the other moves is a good way to keep both begining and intermediate dancers interested.

    Swing Out from closed
    2 Swing Outs
    Lindy Circle

    could become

    Swing Out from closed
    1 Swing Out with footwork X
    1 swing out with footwork Y
    Lindy Circle.

    This is a very simplistic example, but it illustrates how you can "layer" a routine. Another idea is instead of giving them "Extra" footwork if you were working on technique you can give them something more subtle to work on than the rest of the students.
  3. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    Teaching Materials

    There are two threads that are loaded with 'Teaching Material':
    1) the Magic Pill;
    2) Teaching Techniques.

    Fifty plus years of teaching experience in various fields plus 15 years in Ballroom, including the two books on dancing with extensive Original Savoy Lindy techniques, the Lindy style Originated in New Orleans, should keep you busy for a life time. Check my Web Site for additional info and Vintage Dance Photos of some of the Legendary dancers of the Past including Jean Phelps of 'Swing Fever (1943) and Groovie Movie (1943)', Frank Veloz & Yolanda, Dean Collins etc..
    Black Sheep, Dancing is my business.
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Yes, as d nice said, teach them some footwork variations.

    Also, try ending each class with a more advanced step, and let them know that you will show a new one next week if they can master this week's new step and demonstrate it next week. This will also give the newer people an idea of where they can be later without taking up too much time.
  5. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member

    Teaching Mixed Classes

    I gave you several source leads in the previous post to find a load of Lindy instructional material, but I realize you have to split your large group without offending any of them. Here is my suggestion on how to handle the situation:
    1) Select two or four outstanding students and delegate them as assistants. Have them show up 20 minutes prior to class and summarize the beginners level lesson for that evening. They would be tickled pink for the honor.
    2) Spend a few moments at the beginning of class, explain your plan and introduce your 'Qualified Assistants who will conduct the beginners group, summarize the lesson to the beginner group, have your assistants demonstrate the moves to be taught, and then turn the beginner group over to your assistants;
    3) And then you take the more advanced students to the other side of the room and work with them exclusively.

    Teaching requires more guts with only adequate knowledge. Most Professional teachers in any field stay one chapter ahead of their students. When teaching a group class, encourage students to teach that current lesson to a friend or family member after they leave class.
    Black Sheep ' You Learn by Teaching' Joe Lanza 2003 a.d.
  6. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    From the possible perspective of the assistant... of course I can only speak for myself that while it would be flattering to be asked to assist the teacher (in my first swing class series I was the instructor's follow on a regular basis and when she asked me to help out others in the class that did in fact feel nice) I would resent paying for the honor-- the instructor is getting paid and I would be doing the instructor's job! Not only would I not get paid, I would have to pay when I signed up for the class. (golly it would be nice to be an instructor and have people pay me to do 1/2 my job!)

    When I sign up for a class I am generally seeking further instruction for my own dancing. While I agree I would certainly learn something from teaching others and even stregthen some of the skills I had, I would not get what I came there to get... instruction!

    More likely than not questions will come up that the assistants are not prepared to handle. Also it would be impossible for everyone to learn proper technique. Technique can be so subtle which is why people go to an experienced instructor to learn it-- chances are the assistants will not be able to catch those subtle displays of bad technique. Perhaps it is most important for beginning students to develope their skills under a trained eye because it takes so much time to 'unlearn' bad technique the longer it goes undetected.

    If I were in this class I could not fully trust one of these assistants. Sure they may pick up on things faster than I do but they are only 20 minutes of instruction ahead of me-- far from the last word on the subject on dance. I would not take their criticism well knowing that they are not coming from years of experience but from what they were told to do right before I got there. (i.e. "Who are you to tell me my feet are too far apart?" , "I like dipping my shoulder." ... both signs of poor technique)

    While guts may help cover for missing knowledge nothing truely compensates for an unknowledgeable teacher... there is no excuse for it.

    I can't speak for what "professional" teachers do but this certainly is not true of good teachers let alone great ones. The world needs more great teachers. Just because some teachers do it does not mean is okay, recommended, or perferred.

    While I don't teach dance I DO teach... I have given a lot of thought to this topic over the years so of course I have some pretty strong opinions about this.

    Teaching is a good way to enforce something one already knows. You can't adequately teach a thing if it's not in you already. This is not to say that teachers cannot make discoveries along with their students but that is a different matter.
  7. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep New Member


    Your last response to my last post gave me better idea of where you are coming from which was not evident in your opening post. I do agree with all your responses except in two areas:
    1) Teaching a beginners class at least for the first two or three hours, should concentrate on mechanics, Rhythm, posture as to positioning with partners, foot placements, leads & follows, combinations, and a few simple techniques. Not a particularly difficult area to teach for an advanced Swing Student!
    2) As for professional teachers' preparations: You must know I did not mean a professional teacher who wasn't experienced; an inexperienced teacher would hardly define professional; that would be a contradiction of the general meaning of 'Professional'. And all teachers should plan at least one lesson ahead, few teachers plan further than that.

    As for getting paid 1/2 for doing the teacher's job! That would not make you a 'Volunteer' would it?
    I am really impressed with your arguments to my suggestions, and as I said, given the information on your initial post, my suggestions were an attempt to supply some remedies for your 'Mixed Class'.
    Your response, I sincerely believe, turned out to be an excellent dissertation on the problems arising out of my initial Suggestions. I could write a book on that subject, but I already did, called the, 'Art of Teaching Ballroom Dancing', pub. 1962, which does not discuss your particular problem, but I could add your last erudite response as an addendum to my book called the, 'Mixed up Mishmash', with your permission of course!
    The bottom line here is Holiday, obviously either hire another teacher to teach half the class or teach two separate hour classes.
    Black Sheep 'Quality is often bigger than Quantity' , Einstein's Quantitative Theory on Mixed Minds' 1923 a.d.
  8. dancergal

    dancergal New Member

    Our classes are very varied too with all levels of dancers. The instructor just teaches what he intends to teach, adds extra footwork or more advanced moved for the advanced and intermediate dancers and tells the beginners what they can do to make the move easier for them. He reminds the beginners to still take the begining classes to help reinforce what they are learning. He may lose a few that can't catch on, but he usually keeps the regular intermediate dancers coming for more because his moves are fun and challenging.
  9. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Joe... I did not start this thread... my last post was my first post in this thread. The initial post you are referring to was posted by Holiday. No worries. Have a good day :)
  10. suek

    suek New Member

    a student--not a dance teacher--chimes in

    I've been doing this long enough to get to be in classes that are basic (one could say too easy for me). What my teachers have advised me to do is very helpful. Here are some ideas for your advanced students in your large class.

    Tell them:
    • Beginning classes are always very good to practice basics. Pick one thing at a time (bounce, triple steps, front-back connection, up-down connection, side-to-side connection, frame, musicality) and work on it. Internally. To yourself. Your beginner partner doesn't need to know what you're doing.
    • Good and great dancers can dance with less experienced dancers and have a great time doing it...try to make your newbie comfortable; and smile while you're doing it. This can only improve your dancing.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I'm sorry Joe, you're last post now makes even less sense. There are a couple wires crossed here. You're still talking about my post but changed the name to Holiday which fails to tie in with any context not to mention the references to initail and last posts since Holiday has only posted once in this thread.

    It's not a big deal, just thought you ought to know. I'm sure you are very busy with other things and that silly things like this aren't that important.
  12. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Yes Suek it is important for intermediate and advanced dancers to still work on the basics. There is always something new to learn or improve upon.
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    As the saying goes, beginners always want to take intermediate classes, intermediates always want to take advanced classes, and advanced dancers always want to go back and work on their basics!
  14. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Too true! :lol: it stands to reason though
  15. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    And the obsessives go to all three, then come and post about it here. :lol:

  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh oh! Sounds like I'm obsessive! :lol: What a shock. Never would have guessed that! :lol:

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