Learning Secrets of the Classroom Help Studio Instructors

We all know that the dance studio isn’t the classroom but both are teaching/learning environments and there are things that dance instructors can borrow from their classroom counterparts.

The biggest difference in the two environments, according to the article that we used as a resource for this article, is that the students in the dance studio generally want to be there. However, even with this important difference, dance instructors still need strong classroom management skills and compelling incentives.

Elisabeth Gosselin, who teaches at Harlem Success Academy in New York City, shares some advice in the article “10 Lessons Studio Teachers Can Borrow from the Classroom”. She notes that for any good teacher – regardless of what they are teaching – the key to running a smooth classroom is setting high expectations for behavior and performance, giving explicit and direct instructions and being consistent with consequences. The difference in instilling this in the private studio is that parents may have different expectations of instructors than they might with teachers in public school.

For the kids, the experiences can be very similar. In fact, it might be beneficial to them for the learning strategies to echo one another. It could actually heighten learning in both places because of the continuity and repetitiveness of the learning processes. It is even a good idea to build off of what your students are studying in school. The example used in the article is incorporating an Ant Dance into class after learning how excited a couple of students were over the ants they were studying in school. This is pretty simply to do if you’re communicating with your students on a personal level.

So what are the “10 Lessons Studio Teachers Can Borrow from the Classroom”?

#1 – The Power of Planning

Not every dance teacher teaches from a set curriculum but it helps you to organize your classes if you do. Everything from making sure that your barre work aligns with your center work, to building your exercises across the floor on your warm-ups. You can be more organized and get more done in class and your students benefit because the components of their class work together so that they can be engaged in taking their movements to the next level.

This also gives you a historical accounting or a record of your classes and a framework for charting the progress of your students. And that can help when it’s time to talk to parents about when their students need to (or don’t need to) move to the next level class.

#2 – Word Walls and Charts

Seeing dance vocabulary will help your students become more familiar with terminology that they continue to hear lesson after lesson. This can be something permanent for more general terminology or temporary word walls (made from sticky paper) noting terminology specific to something they are learning or rehearsing that day.

#3 – Freeze Frame

Kids have different energy levels and some require more management than others. Often classroom teachers use signals with drums or bells to signal that students should freeze. This can have tremendous value in the studio as it does in the classroom. Get creative with it. You can even have a series of sounds that require that dancers take a variety of actions.

You may use this to stop everyone while you help a student with something specific, to get a routine that has gone awry back in sync or to provide a moment of silence so you can provide additional instruction.

#4 – Spatial Awareness

This is a concept that carries over very well into the dance studio because it is critical that dancers be aware of where they are on the dance floor and where everyone else is on the floor. Using space bubbles, students can visualize a contracting and expanding space around them and why we need to be aware of what size our space bubble should be. Because this helps dancers learn how to keep from bumping into each other, it also makes the floor a safer space.

#5 – Silent Signals

By using the American Sign Language gesture for “respect” teachers in both classrooms and studios can create an atmosphere of respect. This gesture signals for everyone to remember to respect themselves as learners, to respect others, their teachers and that they need to respect ideas. In neither the classroom nor the dance studio does ridicule of any kinds have a place.

Such signals can be used in class for specific needs so that disruptions are minimized. Needs such as going to the restroom, can be requested, approved and done with simple signals and nods.

#6 – Drawing Out Shy Dancers

Shy dancers can be brought out with simple games that help them to overcome self-consciousness. If you keep their range of motion limited, they gain confidence as the range of motion increases. Start silly small with the motions and work up to gigantic. Feeling embarrassed by doing the tiny motions wrong is practically eliminated by the silliness of the game. As they progress to bigger movements, they get better at it and gain confidence by the time they’re doing the gigantic movements.

#7 – Changing Places

Keep dancers from staking claim to turf in the classroom. If you notice, your students will unintentionally go to the same space to wait for their turn for floor activities or will go to the same place at the barre when asked to line up for barre exercises. Establish a changing places rule or game so that no turfs can be established (and defended). This also eliminates any opportunity to cliques to establish themselves in your classes.

You can do this automatically when changing activities or have a sound or phrase that signals this to be done.

#8 – Positive Narration

Speak in the positive. Tell students what to do instead of what not to do. This helps to turn the negativity of a correction into positive encouragement. This works well with younger dancers, and encourages them when you do things like call out specific names and what they are doing well.

#9 – Special Tasks

Create special duties that dancers can do in the class: entrance monitors, show inspectors, and DJs…

This gives the students responsibilities and can even help sometimes difficult students to focus.

This can also help you as the instructor keep a student-centered approach and engage students individually, in pairs, small groups and as a class.

#10 – Learning Styles

Your classes will have students who learn in certain ways. They may be visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. You can improve the learning atmosphere in the studio by grouping the students with similar learning experiences together and then working with each group using the style that fits the way they learn.

Read the original article. There are more details associated with each of the 10 lessons summarized above.

“10 Lessons Studio Teachers Can Borrow from the Classroom” was posted by Mary Ellen Hunt on August 1, 2014,

Alleviating Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is common across sports, the arts and performing arts. You may know it as “stage fright”. Some may call it “choking”. Regardless of the name, the question is: How can coaches, instructors and teachers help athletes and performers overcome their anxieties about performing? As for anxiety that is not specifically performance related: 10-20% of the children who suffer from general stress actually suffer levels of anxiety that are considered disorders.

Within performance stress and anxiety, much of the success with controlling this is based on focus, process, confidence and engagement.  But the fact still remains that helping your athletes or performers overcome performance anxiety or move beyond mental blocks may be two of the most difficult tasks coaches or instructors face. Both of these can be overcome, but according to sports psychologist Dr. Caroline Silby, Ph.D. there are no quick fixes.

Doing well when the time comes is important to the child’s confidence and also to their enthusiasm for learning more and continuing to improve.

Take a look at the full article published in The Cheer Professional by Catherin Calkins and learn more about helping your child move past performance anxiety using visualization, using a lock-step system, acknowledging mental strengths and by coaches staying engaged.

Read more about dealing with general stress and anxiety in families in this Psychology Today article: “Don’t Worry Mom: Coping with anxieties in families”.


Jackrabbit Improves Owner’s Understanding of Her Business and How Best to Serve Her Families

Kids Are Tops Sports Center

1 location, 1000-2000 students, 54 instructors

Owner, Debbie Gantz


As a long-time paper user, Debbie was concerned about being able to easily access her family and student information. Even though it was antiquated, her note card system showed her all of the information that one could possibly need about one student. How could a software system do the same thing?


As Debbie went through training on her new system, she saw the tremendous value of Jackrabbit. Online registration and auto-payment deliver innovation to her business that Debbie never imagined having. The time-savings for Debbie and her staff are tremendous. The automation gives them time to interact with customers in meaningful ways that give them more understanding of their situations and needs so they can serve them in ways that fit their lifestyles better. Debbie also has a better understanding of her business because her critical business information is summarized for her in the Executive Dashboard.

Debbie and her staff also gained greater confidence in the safety and security of her information. Jackrabbit’s secure network and hosting services ensure that, regardless of what happens to her computer or her note cards, customer information is protected. There is no way she could be this confident with her note cards.


Jackrabbit gives Kids Are Tops’ owner the innovation she needs to be operationally efficient and focus more energies in understanding more about the health of the business and the needs of families and students.

“Jackrabbit makes us incredibly efficient. I’m not computer savvy but now I see how easy and efficient Jackrabbit is and I can’t believe I ever questioned the value of changing over to a software system.”  — Debbie Gantz, Kids Are Tops Sports Center

Jackrabbit Gives Owner Control Over Multiple Business Units and Simple View into Performance

Piano Central Studios
3 studio locations, mobile to 5 daycare/preschools, 700+ students, 30+ teachers

Owner and Kindermusik Educator, Theresa Case


Theresa has a private lesson practice and a Kindermusik program operating as one business. To look at her complete data, she must go through the time-consuming, error-laden process of tallying figures from multiple documents. Theresa needs to find a better way to keep her finger on the pulse of her entire business.


Jackrabbit provides Theresa with a robust system to help her manage her two business components. The system is even integrated with her existing QuickBooks package so that financial tasks don’t seem disconnected.  She can see the data critical to her operations in a single, simple-to-understand dashboard view that drills down to comprehensive business details when she needs them.

Jackrabbit is web-based which makes Theresa more productive – regardless of where she is. It also gives her the freedom to be less task-oriented so she can do a better job of managing and growing her business. Anywhere anytime access also comes in handy when she needs to monitor processes or employees when she is away from the office.

When she has a questions, Theresa can depend on the Jackrabbit support team to listen to her needs and respond quickly with the most useful information. She knows she will never be left to figure out issues on her own.


Jackrabbit enables Theresa to manage her business as units yet see her data across a single, simple view keeping her incredibly dialed into her business and able to make wise decisions based on accurate and current business data.

“Jackrabbit’s dashboard gives me an immediate check on the health and status of my business so that I know exactly how I’m doing and what needs my attention that day.”

— Theresa Case, Piano Central Studios

Jackrabbit Provides Owner Anywhere, Anytime Access to his Business Information

Gymstars Gymnastics

1 location, 1009 students, 85 instructors

President & CEO, Bob Tanon


Bob needed to replace his PC-based product with a web-based class management solution so he would have better access to his information. Bob saw what he wanted in Jackrabbit but was skeptical of the data import process from his existing system. It would be chaos if information was lost or imported incorrectly.


Bob’s data import into Jackrabbit required only a few minor tweaks. Jackrabbit support helped him perfect his formats and Bob was up and running with his data in his new system. Bob’s initial mission – in gaining anywhere, anytime access to his data is accomplished and now he has the added benefit that his data is safe and accessible even if his individual computer crashes.

Jackrabbit saves Bob time in labor and paper costs. The ease of accessing data, sending and manipulating reports in Excel and integrating data into QuickBooks has significantly reduced Bob’s bookkeeping labor needs. Online role-taking has helped reduce weekly paper consumption from 1½ cases to ¼ case and that doesn’t include the savings from taking paper out of the online registration process!

Using online role-taking has also reduced the number of drops experienced from absentees because contacting students immediately during missed classes almost ensures that make-ups will be scheduled.


Jackrabbit gave Bob a smooth transition from his existing program. With Jackrabbit, Bob has better access to his business data, greater control over his cost and performance and automated, online processes that support paperless operations.

“Jackrabbit has given us many tools to use to make our business better. If I had been using Jackrabbit when I first opened, I would have had a much easier time growing and expanding.”   — Bob Tanon, Gymstars Gymnastics

See what Bob says about Jackrabbit on YouTube.


Jackrabbit’s Automation and Online Processes Prove to be Game-Changers for ACE Gadsden

ACE All Stars Gadsden

6 locations, 600 students, 24 instructors

Owners, JR & Kelley Zeringue


With six growing locations in the ACE family, it was important to standardize their management systems so that performance could be tracked across the entire group. The Zeringue’s were disappointed in their previous system and decided to follow the Atlanta ACE location’s lead in putting Jackrabbit in place.


JR and Kelley immediately noticed how easy it was for their staff to learn the Jackrabbit system. The value to ACE customers shined through with detailed information available at their staff’s fingertips and conveniences of online registration and payment processes.

JR and Kelley also noticed a tremendous time savings for their staff. Before switching to Jackrabbit, the office manager was inundated with scheduling and registering students and booking birthday parties. Now that those processes are automated or provided self-serve online or electronically, the office manager can place priorities on more personal needs of their students and families.

The automated payment process is an example of how Jackrabbit has improved the way ACE Gadsden operates. ACE can immediately collect any payment that hasn’t been received by the 10th of the month. This has practically eliminates the collections process and saves parents who provide a reference credit card a $15 late fee.


Jackrabbit’s automated online and electronic features have enhanced the conveniences that ACE can offer to its customers, streamlined operations, improved cash flow and freed staff to provide a higher level of personal service.

“Jackrabbit’s automated payment and online registration features have probably been the biggest game changers for us. These features totally take time-consuming processes out of our hair and make them available to parents 24/7.”  — JR & Kelley Zeringue, ACE All Stars Gadsden

See what Kelley has to say about Jackrabbit on YouTube.