How To Build A Better Classroom: Management Styles

Dance Ed Tips | 13 March, 2018

            How To Build A Better Classroom: Management Styles

By: Olivia Mode-Cater 

In order for learning to occur, dance teachers need to have strong classroom management. Without appropriate procedures, rules, and expectations in place, the dance studio can be a chaotic and unproductive place. I have seen it, time and time again, where the same group of dancers behave differently depending on what teacher they have. With one teacher they are disobedient, talkative, and disorganized. With another teacher, the same group is compliant, self-disciplined, and productive. This all comes down to a teacher’s classroom management style.  


According to Dr. Thomas W. Phelan, there are 4 main types of classroom management styles and they are broken down by how demanding and warm you are with your dancers. Take a look at the four styles and honestly reflect on which one is happening in your classroom. It is only through reflection that we acknowledge we need to make a change and make our classrooms a safe space for students to learn, grow, and move.   



Authoritarian: Demanding ON, Warm OFF 




Signs of an authoritarian teacher: 


- This teacher provides only negative feedback to students.  

- Positive feedback and praise are rare. 

- This teacher micromanages students’ behavior and immediately reprimands students for any major or minor infraction. 


Effects of an authoritarian teacher: 


- The students are scared into immediate compliance. 

- Dancers develop anxiety when they are in that classroom. 

- This classroom management style doesn’t produce any permanent changes in behavior overtime.   

Permissive: Demanding OFF, Warm On 




Signs of a permissive teacher: 


- This teacher is too nice and is primarily concerned with the dancers liking them and being their friend. 

- Inappropriate behaviors are ignored. 

- Students are rewarded for trying hard versus the quality of their dancing.  

Effects of a permissive teacher: 


- The classroom is run by the students and is usually out of control.  

- The dancers are aware that there are no boundaries in the classroom. 

- The students don’t trust the teacher as the adult in the room who can handle difficult or challenging situations.  

Detached: Demanding OFF, Warm OFF 



Signs of a detached teacher: 


- This teacher continues instruction regardless of what is going on in the classroom.  

- This teacher has low expectations of their dancers and does not care about their success or failures.   

- This teacher treats the job more as babysitting than teaching.  

Effects of a detached teacher: 


- This teacher provides no emotional support and no boundaries.  

- This teacher can be oblivious to important warning signs that students are displaying in the classroom in their regards to physical, emotional, and mental health.  

Authoritative: Demanding ON, Warm ON 





Signs of an authoritative teacher: 


- This is the ideal classroom management style that all dance teachers should be striving for. 

- This teacher cares about the students’ success and has high expectations for their learning. 

- This teacher sets clear boundaries on what behaviors are unacceptable and has a plan to deal with inappropriate conduct. 

Effects of an authoritative teacher: 


- There is clear respect and trust between the teacher and the dancers and between all the students.    

- The students feel appropriately cared for and challenged.  

- The dancers feel safe to make mistakes and that they will be treated fairly.      




Phelan, T. W. (2005, July). Teaching style and classroom management. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from