Back to teaching in a studio, but with social distance.

Serving balletteachers and balletschoolowners around the world.

Back to teaching in a studio, but with social distance.

6 October 2020 Tips for better teaching. 0

Discussing learning styles and how to help your students.

From July 20th till now, I was finally able to go back to teaching my classes in a studio again after the lock down as of March of this year. All dance- and sportstudio’s where closed from March to July 1st. That was a long time without live teaching and dancing in a studio. Now we are back. But with distance. How does this affect your students preferred learning styles? And how should you react to this?

The first two classes I taught were not even ballet, but Pilates. My ballet classes were still suspended up till september 1st. So I needed to have a little more patience with that. But it felt good teaching again.

I was happy and grateful to get the call to come in and sub. But I was also a little apprehensive going out after months at home. First I needed to travel by metro and bus to get to the location. With a mandatory face mask on. That was getting used to on its own.

In the studio there was a way in and a way out, so that groups would not meet each other in between classes. The mats were on the floor, with at least 1,5 meter space apart.

1.5 meter apart asks for a different teaching approach. Which still needs to connect to students different learning styles.

Normally I walk around to really actively show the students that I see them. But with my experience in teaching and trained eye, I am capable of seeing everybody when I stand or sit still in one spot in the room. And that is exactly what is needed right now. To ensure that you do not come to close to your students it is best to keep yourself stationary on one spot. Or move around in one specific, designated area, not to close to the students.

That is a challenge though. When you are teaching, you walk around, in between the group, and also give side coaching. And you give your students personal, tactile feedback and pointers. Giving side coaching is still possible. But, obviously, touching somebody to adjust body alignment is a no no.

One colleague already acquired herself a little ‘scratching’ stick. You know, the one with the little hand attached. This is her way of correcting students now while she is teaching. Is it funny? Sad? Reminder to old fashioned Russian balletteachers? I switch between those thoughts and emotions every day.

And one student asked me what she should do with all the feedback I give. It was unclear to her when it is directed to the group and when it is for her personally. She was confused, because normally, when she needs personal feedback or correcting, the teacher (in this case me) would approach her and talk to her privately and/or put a hand on her body to correct the stance or movement. I explained to her that I would call out her name if it would be a personal correction. And without name, it would be group feedback, which would definitely benefit her too. She nodded her head, and we continued class.

Every student learns differently. A teacher must be aware of that.

As a teacher you have learned during your own education that every human being learns differently. Every one of us has a slight preference to one of the learning styles listed here.

  • Visual: learning through images, pictures and spatial understanding.
  • Verbal: learning through words. Written or in speech.
  • Physical: learning through touch, your hands and your body.
  • Auditory/musical: Learning through sounds and music.
  • Logical: Learning through logic, systems and reasoning.
  • Social: Learning in a group.
  • Solitary: Learning on your own through self study.

Also see:,hands%20and%20sense%20of%20touch.

back view of a woman in brown dress
Photo by Thu Ngo on

Students who prefer a physical learning style will have a difficult time. They need to switch to really seeing what the teacher is doing and translating this to their own body. And they need to learn how to use verbal explanation and feedback more. Why? Because you as a teacher cannot give them the little tactile nudge they need. (Or use a stick or put on gloves and a facemask.)

An example: I used to walk around and give a gentle nudge under a hanging elbow to correct the stance in the second arm position. Students would remember this, and after a few times only walking past and looking at the elbow would make the student correct themselves. Last week I had to explain to all what I mean when I call out: please raise your elbow. Some students were nodding in affirmation, others were looking at me absently.

So, students who are depending on a teachers touch are having a tough time. It is our responsibility as good teachers to not let them fall in between the cracks and eventually give up on dancing.

Be patient and understanding and transfer that to the student. Make them feel at ease, tell them it is okay. They will get it.

Go ahead and stimulate the student to use visualization when they cannot do it yet with their body. Also let them try to feel for themselves when something is right and when it is wrong. For example, let them stand with a little hunch, bend forward. Also let them see themselves in a mirror. So they can connect the image of themselves standing crooked as being not completely right. Then let them stand upright, let them see in the mirror and let them feel how their body is know. They will register this under ‘correct stance’. In the future you can reference to this moment. “Remember how it made you feel when you stand crooked? What did you look like?” They will have remembered and correct themselves, without you touching them.

More to read:

Would you like to talk about this some more? Would you like me to help you out with your solving problems with your groups and classes? Go ahead and message me. Als find me on social media (Facebook and Instagram).

Good luck and until next time!

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