With UDO World Championships fast approaching, and the last remaining qualifiers coming up in the next couple of weeks, it’s all too easy to let training take over your every waking thought. But as dancers and as teachers, it’s important to remember how to keep your team motivated, so that you can achieve your goal. Whether your team is chasing a coveted First Place trophy, a personal best performance, or simply a fun teambuilding experience, keeping motivation high is key for your students.
In mainstream education, a popular and successful practice is Growth Mindset, which to any of us outside of the classroom essentially means that we should praise effort, rather than achievement. Although this can often be the last thing on a dance teacher’s mind – especially two hours into an all-day rehearsal when they still. can’t. get. it – praising effort can make all the difference. Even if you feel like tearing your hair out (which is not ideal during comp season; hello multiple cameras), it’s worth it to take a deep breath, and recognize the dedication from your students who are genuinely trying to pick up the dance.
The Countdown is On
To give your dancers the clear goals they’re working towards, there’s nothing like a visual prompt to help you out. Something as simple as a whiteboard that can be wiped clean and changed every day – ‘two weeks to West Midlands qualifiers’ or ’50 Days Until Worlds’ – can give your students a concrete idea of how much time they have to get practising. Encourage them to choose their own specific, technique based goals within a certain timeframe, so they can learn to work towards personal improvement while contributing to the overall team.
As students can often get bored in class, and even stop listening, remember to shake things up; sometimes literally. Students look up to their teacher, so will be more likely to focus when watching their teacher perform, and many young dancers need a visual guide in front of them before they can get the often complex hip hop and street dance routines. Nothing motivates like a professional dance teacher showing them how it’s done!
Mix it Up
As much as we all just want to run the routines until they’re impossible to forget, it can help younger dancers to seek inspiration from outside of their own studio. We can’t all expect parents to be able to afford tickets to the latest dance show, so why not find videos and clips of your favourite routines and show them to your students? It can give them that extra spurt of motivation - wanting to see themselves up on that stage - and can inspire them to keep working hard.
Not an easy feat while running around after countless young dancers, but self-care is vital if you want to stay on top of your game. During competition season, it’s hard to remember that putting yourself first is even an option! But whatever you can do to treat yourself within or without the studio, giving yourself just a little time to unwind and de-stress, your dancers will be all the more motivated for it. Happy teacher = happy students! (if only it were that simple…)
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with fellow dance teachers? Whether you teach street, hip hop, commercial, or any other dance style, head over to our social media pages and let us know what your best piece of advice would be!
Author: Hannah Evans. Before joining the team at UDO, Hannah taught commercial and classical dance styles to children and young people. She has dance qualifications in modern, commercial, and ballet.