Holding an observation day during one of your regularly scheduled lessons is a great way to show parents what you do and explain why you do it. Observation can be stressful for teachers and students, but remember, this is not a performance—it’s an opportunity for you to explain the benefits of dance education.
Students. Let students know about the observation a few weeks prior: “We are inviting people in to share what we have learned and to show how hard we work!” Let students take part in the planning by choosing favorite activities, exercises, or combinations to show. If a child does not have an observer, give her a special job such as handing out props, helping with music, or leading an exercise.
Parents. Before the school year starts, set the date for observation day. Put the date in a welcome letter with other important information, such as an explanation of the purpose of the event, and who/how many guests may attend. Remind parents a week before verbally and by email.
Teachers. Plan a lesson with a balance of work and joy. Welcome observers and give a brief introduction of what dancers have been working on. Offer statements such as “This skill was challenging at the beginning of the year; all dancers have come a long way,” or “We have been working on ABA choreography, and I am impressed by their movement choices.” Show something the class is working on or has just learned; point out that it’s new, and that you look forward to seeing the students’ progress. Ask dancers questions that demonstrate vocabulary they know: “Was that a locomotor or non-locomotor movement? Can you tell our audience what the difference is?”
Have fun, be yourself, and remember to engage observers—that’s key to a great observation day. —Sara Lavan
Sara Lavan is executive director of Local Motion Project, Alexandria, Virginia.