Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Don't Cry Out Loud"

I'm on an old school song throw back lately, so this title seemed fitting!

I think today I want to share some advice that I got from a non-dance related friend.  I know you're shocked I have non-dance friends, but truthfully, some of the best people I have to talk to are the ones who don't know a pirouette from an arebesque.  I wasn't really having a great day before I went into the studio, and then when I got there I had to do a lot of cleaning before classes began.  I figured I was going to be in such an edgy mood come 5:00pm and I was not looking forward to the Production class later on and dealing with all those competitive kids.  However, I thought back to what Dave had told me once about my attitude going into work.

I used to just warn the kids before class started if I was in a mood or really irritable that day, so that they would at least know before I yelled at them.  In looking back I guess that really set the tone for the whole class, and that's not really fair to my students or myself.  So I am taking steps to improve the way I approach all my classes, even when I am definitely not in the mood to deal with anyone but my cats!

What I learned from Dave was that regardless of my mood, fatigue or feelings that day I had to go into the studio the same way every day.  The kids don't really care if I'm having a bad day, they deserve a good class either way.

Tonight was our first Production class since before the Holidays and I had been anticipating it since I woke up this morning.  I figured it would be a disaster and I would be really upset that no one remembered all the choreography we did before the break.  So I decided to logistically plan the entire class and what we needed to accomplish.  I wrote out all the choreography that needed to be reviewed in the first half hour, and divided up the groups so Shelby and myself could divide and conquer.  Then for the second half hour I made up all the remaining choreography for the majority of the kids, and broke down the music into counts for Shelby to work with the other group.  It instantly eased my mind for the afternoon and I felt very confident going into work.

I don't normally plan out every detail of every class to this extent, but Production class seems to ignite my stress levels in a way that smaller groups of kids just can't.  I decided ahead of time not to get upset when a kid didn't know their choreography and to stay calm and focused on what I had set out to do.  The night went by a lot quicker and everyone, including myself, was really content.

So I guess Dave was right, but don't tell him I said that!  The kids don't deserve the throw-backs of my mood that day, as I don't like to receive it from other people either.  Next time I'm having an off day I'm going to plan out my classes for that evening so I don't let my emotions take over what were doing.  I will have something to focus on and I will be busy completing tasks I had set, which will satisfy me instantly.

At the end of tonight I had already forgotten that I didn't have a great day, because I had a wonderful night at the studio.  It's not always going to be that easy to get over feeling tired, or sick, but heading into each class with a neutral work-hard attitude already makes me a better teacher then I would have been.  It's not about pretending to be happy when you're not, but maybe it's about using your feelings in a productive way.  If you're really upset about something, create a combo for a class that will help lift your spirits.

So "don't cry out loud" to the kids is my advice tonight!  They don't want to hear about your problems, even if they say they do.  They want to dance... and luckily I want to teach dance.

The inevitable is that some days of my are going to be great, and some are going to be crappy, and I have to go to the studio regardless!  Might as well make the most out of it.  Tonight I could have just been sitting at home watching stupid tv re-runs eating an entire carton of ice cream alone.  Instead I went into work and made choreographic magic... coming soon to a theatre near you!

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