The Building Blocks

Last week at our staff meeting, I asked my instructors to answer the following question and share their response with our team: What did you teach your students this week other than dance?  I immediately got some confused faces and a few giggles.  So, I gave an example: This week in a tap class I helped a student tie her shoes.  She told me she didn’t know how to tie her shoes.  I told her that if she would ask me to help her, I bet she could learn.  Again, she said she could not and began to look very discouraged.  Again, I told her that she could do it, and that I would be happy to help her.  So we walked through each step and sure enough she tied her shoes!  At this point, one of my teachers cut in, “So, the lesson is that you taught her to tie her shoes?”  Of course not! While learning to tie her shoes was a valuable lesson, I taught her several things that were much more important.  I reminded her to believe in herself, to have self-confidence, and that in order to learn new things we have to have a positive attitude and be willing to practice.  And those are the more important lessons; and the ones that I hope that little girl will carry with her into her youth and adulthood.

At this point in our meeting, those looks of confusion turned to looks of joy as I watched my teachers make a connection to a teaching moment they had experienced recently.  One of my tumble instructors told us that she taught self-control when she asked her preschoolers to pretend that their backs were glued to the wall while they waited for their turn to tumble across the mats.  One of my intermediate level dance teachers told us about how she taught her class that hard work would be rewarded when she allowed them to choose a prize from our treasure chest for the first time this year.  One of my teachers, who is getting ready for her class to perform in our Holiday Show, told us her class was struggling to remember the steps and that they were nervous about their performance.  She reminded them that even if they make a mistake while they dance, she wants them to have fun and enjoy themselves.  She praised them for working so hard and told them that she is proud of them no matter what.  What a good lesson for young people: we don’t have to be perfect, and we are loved no matter what we do.

While I take great pride in the level of dance education that we offer our students, I take even greater pride in the lessons that we are teaching other than dance.  Every moment we share with our students is an opportunity to help shape them into a more confident, successful member of society.  I take great pride in knowing that my dance studio, and my wonderful staff, is such an important part of that process.

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