Dance Teacher FAQs

Dance Teacher FAQs

This collection of frequently asked questions will address the most common questions asked by teachers when increasing the inclusive nature of their classes.

How do I say hello to a child who uses a wheelchair?

  • Teachers should say hello and welcome a child who uses a wheelchair in the same way they would a child who does not use a wheelchair. Say ‘Hi’ and use the child’s name.
  • In addition to saying hello, you should think about your body language and facial expression. Be open and friendly – use open hands, wave hello and smile.
  • When talking with a child in a wheelchair, try to come down to the child’s level and make eye contact by kneeling or sitting on a bench.
  • Think of a child’s wheelchair as part of their personal space. This means it is respectful not to touch or lean on the chair without asking or being invited. On the other hand don’t be overcautious as this can create nervousness for both the teacher and student. A dance space is about bodies interacting with each other and a wheelchair can be thought of in the same light.

How do I say hello to a child with a disability?

  • Say ‘Hi’ and use the child’s name like any other kid.
  • In addition to saying hello, you should think about your body language and facial expression. Be open and friendly – use open hands, wave hello and smile.
  • Some children may have different ways of communicating. For example, they may use computerised systems, sign language, gestures, eye movements, symbols or pictures. If you’re ensure, ask the child or their parents about how best to communicate.
  • Seeing the child first and the disability second will help in not making assumptions about any challenges the child may have.

How do I tell a parent I have a concern with their child’s behaviour?

  • The code of behaviour in a dance class or of a dance school is usually established in the very first session.
  • If teachers have a concern about a child’s behaviour because it may put the child or other children at risk of harm, this should be discussed with the parent in a non-judgemental, open, and collaborative way.
  • The goal of the discussion should be to understand the behaviour of concern, not to point fingers or say that a behaviour is bad.
  • All behaviour usually has a purpose. For example, the child might be trying to communicate that something is bothering them or that they are tired but aren’t able to do this using words.
  • Parents know their child best and might be able to assist in understanding and recognising the behaviour of concern. Parents or siblings might be able to help develop strategies that will support the child to communicate what they are thinking and feeling, and to get them more involved in a positive way. It may be as simple as giving the child a short break to calm down or rest. Involving parents, siblings or buddies is a good way to help understand and involve the child in the dance class.
  • Having this conversation with parents early is a good idea, to reduce the chances of the behaviour becoming more of a concern over time.

What do I do if a child is unable to perform the dance exercises and dance movements?

  • Simplify the steps and let the child repeat it as many times as they need.
  • Allow alternate ways to join in.
  • Reassure the child that everyone is different and they are able to perform the task in their own way.
  • Modify the activity to accommodate the child.

What do I do if a child is mucking around or hitting others?

  • Be calm (e.g. Ensure your tone is neutral and consistent).
  • Be clear (e.g. Use simple words and not too many of them).
  • Be specific about the rules and the task you would like the child to do.

What do I do if a child is distressed, having a tantrum or meltdown?

  • Remain calm and model calm behaviour.
  • Communicate thoughtfully: Provide the child with reassurance, e.g. ‘I can see you are feeling upset.’ Or suggest an alternative activity, e.g. ‘Would you like to do a different activity or get a drink?’
  • Allow alternate ways to join in: Reassure the child that everyone is different and they are able to perform the task in their own way.
  • Parents know their child best: Seek parental support if the child is unable to settle.
  • Have a safe back-up activity that the child can do if things become too demanding. This would be an activity that they enjoy and are able to do well.

What do I do if a child is not paying attention?

  • Bring the child closer to the front of the class. Make sure they can see and hear the teacher.
  • Partner the child with a child who is a good listener.

What do I do if children have a different mix of skills within a group?

  • Modify activities so that all children can have a go and join in with the dance activities. For example, teach dance exercises that can be modified and have different levels of difficulty.

What do I do when there is a lack of parental involvement in a dance class?

  • Have a chat to parents, sometimes they just need someone to ask, e.g. ‘Can I just check if you would like to be more involved in the session?’
  • Give parents a role they can play, e.g. Practising a movement with their child.
  • Emphasise the benefits of getting involved, e.g. Taking part may help reassure their child.

As a teacher, I feel I lack understanding about disability. How do I learn more about it?

  • Seek feedback from the child and the parents, eg. ‘Did you enjoy the dance class today?’ or ‘Could I have done more to support you?’
  • You can start by referring to the AllPlay Dance website for tips about different types of disabilities and how to be inclusive.
  • If you want to learn more, you can undertake disability awareness training.

TREE

Find out more about the ‘TREE’ approach for inclusive teaching/coaching

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