Author Jessica Clayton
As a dance teacher and program director I have been asked, more times than I can remember, by my dance educators what the most important skill is that they should posess as teachers. My answer usually shocks them as you would think the answer would be creating unique lesson plans or showing up 15 minutes early, or making parents happy. Although all these are important in their own right, I believe the most important asset a teacher could possess is learning the names of the students and calling them by name frequently throughout the class!
It is so simple really! Think about it, how impersonable does it feel when someone says
“I am so sorry, but I have forgotten your name!”
I’m sorry, I wasn’t that important to you to remember! Really, isn’t this how you usually feel?
Many people have different ways of remembering names whether it be sticking name tags on everyone in the class, or by some sort of word association with the name. All of these are great ways to remember names, but this is a dance class! So why not make a name game that involves movement? Here are a few examples that Dance Exploration Eductors use in day one of every class!
What’s in a Name?
Stand in a circle so everyone can see each other. Ask each child to take the first letter of their first name (Molly= M) they must associate their name with a movement or action word that can be danced out (Mouse Leaping Molly). Everyone will perform a Mouse Leap for Molly. Go around the circle associating a dance move for each child based on their first name.
So let’s say you have a class of 20 kids, how can you remember that very first Mouse Leaping kiddo? Memorization of course! After each child takes a turn, go back to the very beginning and see if you can remember each of the kids Names and movements. Kids will be dancing and you will be learning their name in a fun way.
Try to remember the kids movement throughout the session so everytime you see Molly she can be “Mouse Leaping Molly!” They get a kick out of it!
Have the kids sit down in a circle. Pick a train conductor (usually the teacher). The conductor goes around the circle and picks a student to hop on the Name train. Before they can hop on they must say their name and do a dance move. Be sure the dance matches the first letter in their name. Let’s say the first child is Charlie and he does a chug.
“Welcome aboard the Name Train Chugging Charlie!” The conductor yells!
The next child is Jennifer and she does a jump! The conductor welcomes aboard Jumping Jennifer. But Jennifer must also introduce herself to Charlie.
“Hello Chugging Charlie, I’m Jumping Jennifer!”
The kids shake hands. Continue the name train around the whole class room. Decide how your name train will move, maybe it chugs, or shuffles, or marches around the room. Whatever you pick, the class will be moving and learning!