Not too long ago, on the wonderful Business of Dance Podcast, I was asked what ONE thing dance teachers could to bring more body positivity into their classrooms, and my response was to become more aware of their language.
Now post podcast interview me realizes that this is a rather nebulous suggestion (although still a valid one), so I've broken my answer down a bit and am sharing it with you today.
I actually made a little video of it over on my YouTube channel (which I'd LOVE it if you subscribed to!), and am including that below. In the video I talk about how this can bring body positivity into your classes, but you can also use this technique with giving any kind of feedback to your dancers.
Yes, we as teachers absolutely need to be aware of the language we use around our students because words matter (case in point: raise your hand if you can still recall that one thing a teacher said to you 10, 20, 30 years ago that still makes you feel about as special as a a lone sock on the side of the highway), but bringing more awareness to our words is a lifelong process, so here's an easier solution.
So maybe they had a bad day in class and you can't even think of a single thing to compliment them on. Tell them you're glad they showed up and made it through class. That's not giving false praise, that's encouraging them to be determined, and naming it, aloud to your student sends the message that it's ok not to have a great day, that their value goes beyond how many pirouettes they did that day or how technically correct their alignment was.
Ok, so hoooooooow exactly do you go about praising your students honestly and tactfully? Well, funny you should mention that, because I've got a set of compliment cards for sale over in the Different Drummer Dance store! But you can also just put these compliments into your own words and put them on a Post-It or 3x5 card and hand them to your students at the end of the day.
Which method will you be trying? Give me a shout out and let me know!