Dance ED Tip #72: 3 Easy Steps to Getting Out of Your Dance Teaching Rut

July 2, 2019 - Kelsey Nelson

When I was asked about writing a blog for DanceEdTips, the topic of ‘changing up your training’ was something that I felt I could speak on. I started by creating new methods of class design and writing out plans for approaching summer training differently. Soon after I started writing, it was boring and somewhat uninspired. What I concluded is- if you want to find new ways to approach training, you must change your perspective. So, let’s talk about fine tuning our focus and finding a new way to approach something we do daily…educating young dancers.

Step 1: Honest Reflection

For me, I realized the first step in shifting my training methods needed to be an honest reflection inward. Beginning with some reflection of what isn’t working with your current methods of education will take time and be the most difficult step. Do the work anyways. Dig in, reflect, write your challenges down, come back to it the next day, and continue to evaluate what comes up for you. As educators we point out the tiniest of details and provide specific critiques for our students, we need to do the same things for ourselves in regards to what isn’t working in our methods of educating. Once you know what needs shifting in your approach, the real fun can begin.

Step 2: Recognition

Now that you know what you want to improve upon, it is time to recognize why you want to adjust to start providing the results you are seeking. Focusing on the ‘why’ behind the actions, words, or emotions in any situation will help you find clarity and a point to start working off of. Identifying what needs adjusting and why an approach was not working will help redirect your energy to shift your methods and overall focus. With clarity on what and why, you are ready to dig into how to approach educating differently.

Step 3: Setting Your Goals

The rewarding part of the growth process can begin after you have done the reflecting and evaluating. Now that you are clear on where you want to go you can begin to set goals for yourself and your students. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you be clear on your expectations for yourself as an educator. To make a change for the future of your classroom and your educational process, you have to look long term. Set long term goals for how you want to change your approach and work backwards to what you can start doing today. The long term shifts you want to make might not be seen right away and that doesn’t mean that you aren’t shifting and changing.

Advice:

The advice I have for trying new methods, approaching education differently, or stepping outside of the traditional training model is that you are capable of creating what will work for you. The act of trying is the most important step in anything, so when you feel stuck, simply approach it from a different angle and try again. If you see the need for something to change, trust your gut and adjust. Not all of your efforts will work out how you expect, that is okay, make another shift and keep working towards your goal. Reflection and goal setting are two ways that you will be able to adapt and develop where you need to. Remember, every step will lead you in a direction, make sure you are choosing to step towards where you want to be.


Kelsey has over 25 years of dance experience ranging from major motion pictures to teaching students all across North America, judging for several prestigious dance competitions within the United States, and creating her own conditioning program for dancers. She received her Bachelor of Science in Dance Management from Oklahoma City University. Some of Kelsey's professional performing credits include working with choreographers like Fatima Robinson on Anchorman II: The Legend Continues (major motion picture), Mia Michaels on Rock of Ages (major motion picture), Disney's Million Dollar Arm (major motion picture), HSN, Royal Caribbean International, Feld Entertainment/Feld Motor Sports, Cirque Productions, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens, Hardrive Inc., and many more. Along with performing, Kelsey has a passion for providing quality instruction and choreography. She has had the opportunity to continually develop both her teaching and choreography portfolio by working with St. John's University, Wake Forest University, McKendree University, University of South Florida, Victoria's School of Dance, USA Ambassador Pageant, Cirque USA, BookAFlashMob.com, Universal Dance Association and many studios located within the United States and Canada. Kelsey has been honored to be a Master Instructor for National Dance Alliance, Universal Dance Association and Dance Team Union in the past few years. You can find Kelsey on the judging panel of several different national competitions and as a member of Impact Dance Adjudicators. She has had the honor of judging several different National Finals for Universal Dance Association and USASF. She is always working to provide the most beneficial and valuable critiques possible to help both students and teachers alike grow and develop. Her passion for dance spreads wide and far and she is always looking for new ways to continue to expand her wings in the entertainment and education industry.