For Teachers

5 Tips For Chatty Classes

11:30 AM

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you cannot keep control of a class that just. won't. stop. talking. How do you deal with that?

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1. Stop Talking Yourself. 

Every year, at least once a year, when I'm super frustrated with my chatty classes, I just pretend I've lost my voice. I whisper and tell them I can't talk.

Yes I know it's a lie.

Sorry. *(not sorry.)

>>>>>Dance Class Etiquette Guide - your complete guide to behavior before, during, and after class

They're silent as a mouse! They have to be! They can't hear me, the music is quiet, and they're hanging on my every word/movement.

Seriously, if your class is too loud, you are probably too loud, too.

Photo credit: McBeth via / CC BY-NC-ND

Can't stop talking completely? Talk really quietly.

Now, that doesn't always work, I'll be honest. For the majority of kids it does, but sometimes...

2. Let Them Talk.

"Miss Haley, why would I let them talk? I'll never get anything done!"

You will if you get them to say what you want them to say.

For instance, when I teach echappe to 3-year-olds, I echappe and say, "Escape!" and jump back to first and clap my hands and say, "Together!" After doing just a few, the kids almost always join in.

Photo credit: bobbyrettew via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Chatty classes? You don't even have to ask them to repeat you. If you say it every time as you dance, most of the time, they'll join in.

Sometimes that's still not enough.

3. Don't Stop Dancing.

This option is not for the weak of heart.

Photo credit: darcyh via / CC BY-NC-ND

Basically it requires you to pre-choreograph everything in your class, set the playlist, and start the music. You say what you're supposed to say, they say what they're supposed to say, you dance the whole time, your transitions are choreographed, there's no down-time, and they're so focused on keeping up with you (and breathing) that they don't have time to talk.

>>>>>Printable Poster - Help! My Dancer Says She's Hurt!

4. Make Them Apologize. 

When all of the above options have failed, I stop the music, ask all my students to stand in fifth position, and I lecture them.

yeah I know, it's kinda old-school, but I make it very clear that I'm unhappy. Here are some of the things I say:

  • You are distracting the students who want to learn, that's rude to your classmates.
  • I have spent a lot of time trying to teach you to dance, and you are not being a good steward of that time.
  • You are being rude and disrespectful to me
  • You are being rude and disrespectful to your parents, who are paying for you to be here.
Photo credit: pamela.rebecoespinoza via / CC BY-NC-SA

After the lecture, I ask them to apologize (and honestly, many times I don't need to ask) and we continue on in class. It's sobering, but it gets the point across.

5. Three-strikes, You're Out.

For the kids who are constantly a problem, I just stop what I'm doing (even in the middle of a sentience), walk to the white board, write their name, and put one X under it. Never had I had to explain what I'm doing.

>>>>>Supporting Your Dancer - A Family Guide

Then I continue with class. If they get another X, I give them a look, and continue with class. Third X? "Get your bags, sit in the lobby. Come see me after class."

Sometimes I have a kid who gets really upset about this. They cry. I let them. Because guess what? If they leave the room crying, they really won't want to be kicked out again. 
When they and their family comes to me after, I simply explain they "got 2 warnings, were not behaving, were being a distraction, so they were asked to leave. I am looking forward to seeing you next week, we will do better, right?"

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Now mind you, I won't kick a 4-year-old out of class. But I will ask a 6 or 7-year-old to leave. With the little ones, the sooner you make it clear it's not OK, the quicker they change their behavior.

What are your tips for dealing with chatty classes?

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