Forum: Teaching Assistants

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how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By celticprincessmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 09:43 PM

I'm teaching a beginner class with nine 5-7 year olds. Every couple of weeks, one of my students will refuse to dance. Last week it was one of the two boys in the class (he is 6). We have a show in two weeks, and I was already missing two members of the class that day, so I really needed everyone dancing. Everytime I would turn around to do the music, he would go to the corner and sit down, and when I called everyone to get their spots, he wouldn't move. I tried to tell him that we needed everyone dancing since we had their first show coming up, and didn't he want to do a good job to make his mommy proud?. He went to his spot eventually, but he kept leaving everytime we stopped. I told him that if he kept doing it he wouldn't get to play our game at the end or get a sticker (and he didn't get either). But it was rough for the whole class. How should I deal with a situation like this? Usually the prospect of loosing game or sticker privlages will get the kids to dance, but it didn't really work this time.

27 Replies to how to deal with students who refuse to dance?

re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:04 PM
It might be a mark of how un-maternal of a person I am, but I don't play. Dance, or sit down in the corner until someone comes after you. In our kids class, they get sent out halfway through the class to change their shoes, so usually the moms will appropriately bust their chops, and they'll come in dancing. There's a little girl in a class I've subbed for a handful of times, and she always has to warm up to me - she'll never dance for me initially, she has to watch everyone else for a while first. And even SHE knows, dance, or sit in the corner. None of this fussing and begging for the entire class. :/
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By MissTalia
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:08 PM
I'm with you, Teresa. However,If they're really little though, as in 21/2 or 3. I encourage them but then back off. Sometimes the other kids will say, "Miss Talia, she's not dancing." I say, "Well, she's going to miss her turn then."
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Sumayah
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:17 PM
Oh, no thank you. You will go your spot NOW. If you choose to sit in the corner, then I will speak to your mother after class about how you disobeyed me and were not being a good listener or following directions.

Or

I'm sorry, you will not act that way in my classroom, do you understand me? I do not put up with children who disobey me. You will go to your spot and dance with us NOW.

If they choose to sit then I move them to the "time out" corner. But kids don't typically choose to sit when I use the phrase disobey. Somehow that scares the crap out of them.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:24 PM
MissTalia wrote:

I'm with you, Teresa. However,If they're really little though, as in 21/2 or 3. I encourage them but then back off. Sometimes the other kids will say, "Miss Talia, she's not dancing." I say, "Well, she's going to miss her turn then."


I guess maybe I didn't give a complete answer, because I sort of do that too. They get one try at a "Oh, come on Becky, we're having so much fun, come join us!", and then after that, it's "Ok, you sit down over there" (which came about because I had a girl that didn't want to dance but didn't want anybody else to either. Well no, she's not going to disrupt everyone that IS trying...)

Then when I switch to the next activity, they get another try to jump in. If they still won't, then they sit back in the corner.

Then after the second activity is over, they get sent out to change their shoes, and that's usually when mom handles it. And mom usually wants to talk to me about what I think about how their kid is doing after class is over.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Sumayah
On Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:30 PM
Agreed. My first response isn't the stern one, but after continued behaviour. I give them the "making good choices" speech first, but if they're being stubborn, the quickly find out I'm way, WAY more stubborn than they are.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By celticprincessmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 06:08 AM
Ok, but what do you do if you REALLY need a kid to dance? We have our first show coming up in two weeks, and we only have two more practices. I can't really put a kid in time out cause we need everyone in their spots so they can learn their dance.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By cmdc
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 06:12 AM
Get the parent involved. Either go out to them and drop off the child stating they refuse to dance, or ask the parent to come back to the studio, and give their child a talking to and the continued evil eye.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By DaDancingPsych
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 06:42 AM
If a child really doesn't want to dance, he/she won't dance. It doesn't matter how much pleading, demanding, punishing, or enticing that I do... that child can still choose to not dance. Mommy and Daddy can tell that child that he/she MUST dance and still that child can choose to not dance.

I do a lot of the things that others do, as I initially try to be encouraging. I think that typically my classes are exciting enough that most WANT to dance even if they think that they don't at first. I do walk them through the choice in the hopes that they will choose to dance. But there comes a point where that child can sit in the corner and not dance. That is the choice that he/she made and whatever consequences come of that choice is his/hers. I do keep the parent informed, as sometimes they are able to work with the child.

I also don't paint myself into a corner. I never see any dance as impossible without a single student. Especially with younger dancers, I have no problem performing the dance without a student. If there's a hole, there's a hole. If someone doesn't have a partner, he/she is partnerless. It's not the end of the world. That's not to say that I do not try to give my students the best performance possible, but I do not allow myself to stress about things out of my control. A dancer unwilling (or unable) to perform is not something that I can fix, so I don't sweat it!
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By CarabosseKPremium member
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 06:49 AM
celticprincess wrote:

Ok, but what do you do if you REALLY need a kid to dance? We have our first show coming up in two weeks, and we only have two more practices. I can't really put a kid in time out cause we need everyone in their spots so they can learn their dance.


It IS important that the dances look nice for shows, but it's also important to remember that we're teachers. Not just dance teachers either...we're teaching them manners, discipline, and so many other things. I think it's probably more important that the child learns a valuable lesson than it is for the child to be in his or her spot for the dance.

If they choose to sit out, they sit out for the whole class and then I notify their parents. I also make sure to do their favorite activity sometime during the period they're sitting. They usually try to jump in, but they get the "we didn't do our warmup exercises so we can't do our fun dances" talk. The game ends quickly.

I also don't do this with the 3-4 year olds. I start it at the 5 year old class. The 3-4 year olds, I have them sit on a carpet square near the door, away from the others, and will occassionally ask them if they'd like to join us since we're having so much fun. I don't push it, and I do tell their parents.

If this happens when we're practicing a dance, so be it. Yes, I want the dances to look nice, but being realistic, is one practice going to make a marked imporvement in a dance for 3-6 year olds? What would you have done if the child was absent?
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By J1ll
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 09:41 AM
I give them one activity to sit and watch- sometimes kids do better when they see the expectations. If they still won't join I return them to their parent. "Student doesn't seem to want to participate today. If he/she changes their mind they're welcome to re join us."
Honestly I've found this best. If I let them continue to sit and watch I find it can turn into an epidemic of "I don't feel like dancing" and confuses kids about my expectations. At dance class I expect you to try to dance. Period.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By MissTalia
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:53 AM
I've done this before, too.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By loverofballet
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:29 AM
I do what J1ll does. If child sits down, I ask them if they want to dance with us today, if they say no, I take them by the hand outside to Mom. If Mom is not there they stay inside near the door until Mom shows up. I tell all my students that being in class means dancing not watching, not sitting. If you let them stay and have their way, that disobedient negative energy feeds the others and pretty soon the rest of them think it is a good idea to not dance. I start this at age 4.

It is also my opinion that you cannot and should not force a child to participate in something they don't want to do. Bribery, pleading, taking away stickers and games put you the teacher in a weak position. It's basically a black and white choice, either you dance in class, or you will not participate in the recital dance, period.

I had a six year old student once who was afraid to perform. I spoke with the Mom and agreed to keep her in the class. During the rehearsal of the recital piece, she was like an understudy learning the dance from the back row. Once she saw the prop and saw how much the other students were having fun, she changed her mind and wanted to participate.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By ChristinePremium member
On Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:58 AM
celticprincess wrote:

Ok, but what do you do if you REALLY need a kid to dance? We have our first show coming up in two weeks, and we only have two more practices. I can't really put a kid in time out cause we need everyone in their spots so they can learn their dance.


DO NOT let a 6 year old have this power over you.

If there are only two more practices until an important event, it is,"Dance of Get Off The Floor", time.

Little boy sits in the corner?.... "Mom...we have a problem. Show in two weeks, Silly Billy staging a sit in. HELP ! ! "

That's it.... let the mom motivate her kid or make the choice to take him out and try again next year. As soon as you assign the mom to chat with her kid, get on with the class.

Some of the worst mistakes I've ever made at my studio were the result of being too nice. Really...you're being too nice about this. At the age of 6, I assume this child is in school? Does he sit down in the hallway if he doesn't want to go to library with the rest of the class? Of course not. Would a tee-ball coach or soccer coach coddle and cajole him if he didn't feel like going where the coach said to go? NO!

Sometimes we forget that one of the ten commandments of show business is, "The Show Must Go On". If a child comes down with chicken pox or breaks a leg, we always manage to find a creative solution to fill the hole in the show.

You have my very best wishes.

Keep On Dancing*
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance? (karma: 1)
By i_am_me
On Wed Mar 07, 2012 08:35 AM
celticprincess wrote:

Ok, but what do you do if you REALLY need a kid to dance? We have our first show coming up in two weeks, and we only have two more practices. I can't really put a kid in time out cause we need everyone in their spots so they can learn their dance.


ELIMINATE HIM FROM THE DANCE.

There's no "don't you want to make mommy proud?" in my class.

Inconvenient to restage it? You betcha.
Would I restage it? You betcha.

OUT to your Mom, please and thank you.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 07, 2012 01:42 PM

Sometimes we forget that one of the ten commandments of show business is, "The Show Must Go On". If a child comes down with chicken pox or breaks a leg, we always manage to find a creative solution to fill the hole in the show.


True.

In my sons competition jazz class, there are three kids - him, and two other girls. He's important to the number. In fact, it's written that there are several points in the number that actually physically can't happen if he isn't there.

Sunday the week of a performance, he's flat on his back on my couch, pneumonia and a 102 degree fever.

Guess who had to be prepared to dance without him?

You don't NEED this kid to do anything. Yes, his shutting up and going along would be handy, but it's not required. If he weren't in the class at all, you'd figure out something to do...
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Dream_chaserPremium member
On Thu Mar 08, 2012 08:58 PM
I totally ignore them and give tons of attention to the rest. Unless they are being disruptive, that's what I do.

If not, they sit down, or worse, leave.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By psballet
On Fri Mar 09, 2012 07:33 AM
I don't have this happen as often with the older kids...the preschoolers do it all the time, but there is usually a parent there, and I just send them out to talk to the parent.

With the older kids, I do use time out for behavior issues, or "banishment" (Even older, like the 10-12 range) as I call it- go to the barre and do repetitive exercises and be ignored for the rest of the class.

The thing I am hearing from you is that you "need" him to dance...and I think he hears that too. Maybe try letting him know that it's no skin off your back. I would say one of two things. 1) Well, if you're not practicing, it means you won't look very nice in the performance, and that's just too bad. Everyone else will look great because they are practicing. 2. No practicing, no performance. (Maybe even show how you would make the dance work without him!) He needs to know that the show will go on just fine without him, because he is totally playing you.

For yourself, roll with it. What would you do if someone ended up on crutches the week before the performance? You'd make the dance work somehow. Always have a backup plan. Hope this helps.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Jaenis_Yahad
On Fri Mar 09, 2012 08:53 AM
I never force a student to dance because, in my opinion, it takes my attention away from the students who are participating in class, and places it on the negative behavior. If it's a younger child, I let them sit on the side and watch the rest of the class having fun and learning. If we are playing a game at the end of class, I do not allow this child to participate. If it's an older child, I have them call their parent and tell them to come pick them up because they are refusing to dance, and if the parent can't come and pick them up, I will have them sit in the lobby.

At the end of class, I have a pow wow with the parent. Communicating with the parent is the key, because then they will know that the child is not participating, and maybe this is something that they can discuss at home.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By califeisgirl
On Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:04 PM
Personally, I would start the very next class with with "We have your very first performance coming up very soon, so I need every to come to class and give me 100 percent so we can make it the best ever. If you don't dance in class I will take you out of the show."
And then, I would do just that. Ok, I might give them one warning/reminder, but then I would just dance them out of the next section I'm working on. Even if its the best dancer in the class. I really have no interest in catering to kids who don't want to be in class. Usually saying "Ok, if you don't want to dance, tell your mom and have her take you home" works. 9 times out of 10 they will keep up and dance because they don't want to deal with mom, or mom will order them to dance and send them back in, because mom is shelling out the bucks for dance.
But just take them out, one by one, if they aren't dancing. Even if you're left with the worst dancer in class doing a solo for 32 bars, isn't it better to reward that dancer for being good then pleading with the bad ones?
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri May 04, 2012 10:20 PM
A pretty good standing threat for the kids on the weekends is that if they don't dance, they have to go sit with "Miss Jean", our receptionist on the weekends. She's our SOs mom, and is about as lovely a little old grandmotherly type as you could want to come across, but the little kids don't know that. :D
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By Dream_chaserPremium member
On Fri May 04, 2012 11:30 PM
No, tell them either dance or go home. I don't put up with that (hard lesson learned as a young teacher) and once you let them get away with it, once, they do it, again, and again.

I let the parents know why and if it's close to the show, if they don't start participating, they may be out of the show.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat May 05, 2012 09:29 AM
Edited by d4j (104724) on 2012-05-05 09:31:20
Edited by d4j (104724) on 2012-05-05 12:33:23
I have a policy of no sitting out allowed. First of all, for the kid that doesn't want to dance, that's exactly what they WANT and I'm not gonna give it to them. Second, my parents expect me to be able to get them to dance, as in, it's part of the job description. Now I can hear you all laughing at that when you have a kid absolutely determined not to dance. Anyway, you all can tell when someone is actually sick or injured, otherwise, everyone dances no matter what.

So what we do: Say that said uncooperative kid has decided to lie on the floor, or stand in the corner. Lol, typical! I don't say a word about their behavior but cheerfully walk up to the child and say remember the rules (about no lying on the floor) and then hoist her up gently and keeping my hands on her shoulders and physically maneuver her to her spot and then stay with her in the formation and move her through it even if she just ends up walking. Basically, I'm not gonna let her stand there, I'm going to bodily move her through the dance. I stay cheerful and act as if all is normal. I don't address her behavior in any way but she sure gets the message that she will dance.

Most of my parents are in the room with me so I don't have to worry about having touched a child in this way. And most parents are horrified when they see that I am bending over to pick up their kid and will FINALLY say Suzie get off the floor! Sadly, up until that moment most parents just watch the class and totally ignore their kid acting up.

It only takes a time or two of having to do this and then everyone very quickly gets with the program. Most kids, as soon as they see me coming over to get them, will run to their spot and dance.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By i_am_me
On Sat May 05, 2012 01:01 PM
Am I the only one that doesn't have ANY child do this?!?

It's simply not allowed. My students just KNOW it's not allowed. I don't even let older kids (5 and up) MENTALLY check out while they are dancing, much less lay on the floor or sit in a corner. If I see them on another planet, I say something ASAP to pull them back. And it's generally not in a nice tone.

Last week, I asked a three year old to come and stand on the tape to practice her recital dance. She crossed her arms and said no. Without a seconds hesitation, I walked over to her scooped her up and said "No is not an option. We are going out to your mom." And took her directly to her mother. Then told her mother that I will likely have to pull her from the recital dance, because she is not following directions. She had to stay outside for the rest of the class.

Currently, she is on a probation with the recital dance and her mom knows, if she doesn't comply, she will be pulled and refunded.

Homey don't play.
re: how to deal with students who refuse to dance?
By hummingbird
On Sat May 05, 2012 01:09 PM
i_am_me wrote:

Am I the only one that doesn't have ANY child do this?!?

Last week, I asked a three year old to come and stand on the tape to practice her recital dance. She crossed her arms and said no. Without a seconds hesitation, I walked over to her scooped her up and said "No is not an option. We are going out to your mom." And took her directly to her mother. Then told her mother that I will likely have to pull her from the recital dance, because she is not following directions. She had to stay outside for the rest of the class.

Currently, she is on a probation with the recital dance and her mom knows, if she doesn't comply, she will be pulled and refunded.

Homey don't play.


It's not that they try it on with you, but, just as you said you don't play that game.

Neither do I, if they do try it on they don't get the reaction they want from me.
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