17
Sep

Progressive Classes

7 Easy Steps To Create

Progressive Series Of Classes

From Beginner To Advanced

In Less Than 1 Hour

Creating a series of progressive classes that build off of each other AND keep your students excited, wanting more, can feel like an overwhelming task that will take hours, or even days.

How do you start?  What should come first?  How do you keep it interesting?  How do you make sure to offer variety?  How do you keep students coming back for more?

This 7 step plan will answer all these questions and make the process easy for you.

 

The Benefits of the Plan

  1. This 7 step plan will teach you the exact A-Z steps you can take to create classes that progress off of each other, while being interesting, offering variety and keeping your students coming back for more.
  2. By following our plan, you will gain the confidence that comes from knowing you have taken the necessary steps to choose the best possible path for your class series.
  3. The plan will clarify all your awesome material and prepare you for teaching workshops as well as series classes.
  4. Organizers looking to hire you will be impressed when you show them the work you put into your classes.
  5. The plan will allow you to be more flexible on the spot so your classes don’t get stuck feeling the same.
  6. This plan will save you loads of time (hours or even days)!
  7. Organizers: Have your teachers use this 7 step plan to present you their syllabus suggestions.

 

 

Note: You can view additional info and examples below by clicking any text with arrows like this:

Click the text again & this info will disappear.

The Requirements

1. If you want to see results, you must implement the plan!

Don’t worry, we have made it super easy!  Skim this whole article & then go thru the the 7 steps one at a time. In less than 1 hour, you will have a basic progressive class series ready to go.

2. After you read the plan, set aside 40 - 85 Minutes to implement it.

We have given you a minimum and maximum time that you should spend on each topic so you can power thru this and have a solid basic outline within 40 minutes, or delve deeper into your knowledge spending as much as 85+ minutes.

3. Manage your time carefully. It is your most valuable resource.

WATCH OUT!  The more time you spend on Step 1, the more time the rest of the steps will take.

We recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and forcing yourself to stop at the 10 minute mark.  After you have done steps 1-6 (setting timers along the way), you will have a plan that you can implement and it will have taken you less than an hour!

Step 7 is about refining the process, so you can always go back and spend more time perfecting it after you have a working version.

4. Use an Early Warning Alarm & an End Now Alarm

If you have problems keeping to time limits (like me), set an “Early Warning Alarm” 1-2 minutes before the official end time for each step AND an official “End Now Alarm”.  Try it!  You might be amazed at how awesome your creation is even when you stick to your time limits (especially if you give yourself the early warning).

Plus, this is great training for learning to end on time (which is often a skill dance teachers could improve).

Here is my favorite free alarm app, Flextime (mac only) …. or here are some popular Alarms for PCs.

 

The Steps

Step 1: (10 – 20 min) Brainstorm all the topics that you love to teach.

A few examples from my list:

  • How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  • What to know when you or your partner is grounded or not
  • The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  • The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  • Matching the 9 arms
  • Matching Energy Changes
  • Overall Feel of Different Songs – Comparing Emotions & Stories
  • Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  • How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  • Overall Feel Within Each Song – Changing of Emotions & Stories
  • What Makes An Amazing Dance
  • Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  • Mastering Triple Steps
  • Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Bonus Benefit: Brainstorming your topics is also great for getting more students and getting hired for workshops more often!  The more clear you are about what you offer, the better.

Step 2: (5  – 15 min) Group your topics into categories.

I have three categories that make sense based on my topics listed above.

Connection Topics

  • How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  • The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  • The Details of Counterbalance
  • The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  • Matching the 9 arms

 

Musicality Topics

  • Matching Energy Changes
  • Overall Feel of Different Songs – Comparing Emotions & Stories
  • Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  • How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  • Overall Feel Within Each Song – Changing of Emotions & Stories

 

Miscellaneous Topics

  • What Makes An Amazing Dance
  • Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  • Mastering Triple Steps
  • Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Step 3: (5  – 10 min) Rearrange each category of topics from beginner to advanced.

Musicality Topic Order

  1. Matching Energy Changes
    • This is my first topic because it is super easy to learn.
  2. Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
    • This requires knowing about Matching Energy Changes so it has to come after the above topic.
  3. Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
    • This is easy to learn too but it is a little scarier for most dancers to attempt, so I will wait until they have been dancing a few weeks to implement it.
  4. Overall Feel within Same Songs
    • This is the same concept as above but it requires more awareness because the changes are more subtle.
  5. How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
    • This is an easy topic to learn and could be placed earlier but I think it is a more exciting topic after you have been dancing for a little while and experienced the struggle of not being able to predict the music.

 

Connection Topic Order

  1. The 3 types of connection & when to use them
    • Super easy to learn but will take a long time to perfect.  I will use these concepts in every future class, so I will teach it first.
  2. How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
    • Great for reinforcing the 3 types of connection
  3. The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
    • I can teach the above concepts without this concept so it can come afterwards.
  4. Matching the 9 arms
    • Requires knowledge of the 3 types of connection AND the 3 types of arm movement above, so it comes after both.
  5. The Details of Counterbalance
    • Requires knowledge of matching the 9 arms.

 

Miscellaneous Topic Order

  1. Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  2. What Makes An Amazing Dance
  3. Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  4. Mastering Triple Steps
    • These topics don’t require an order based on difficulty or previous knowledge so I am ordering them based on when I think the student’s will want this information.

Step 4: (5  – 10 min) Create your progressive class order by rotating topics.

Class Order

  1. Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  3. Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  8. Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  10. and so on…

Step 5: (5  – 10 min) Label the natural energy level/feel of each topic.

Although each topic might have various energy levels throughout the topic, they usually have an overall energy level as well.  I label them based on this overall energy level and also label any clear changes.

  1. High – Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Low – Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  3. Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Medium – Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Low – Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Low to High to Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. High – Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  8. Low – Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. Medium – Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Step 6: (10 – 20 min) Adjust your topics to have the energy flow that you want.

I like to start and end with high energy but my last class in the example above currently ends with medium energy.  I can either adjust the way I teach that class so it ends with high energy, or I can switch class 7 with class 9 so I end on a high note (or both).

I also like my topics to flow smoothly, usually avoiding having more than 2 topics of the same energy level back to back and usually NOT jumping from Very High to Very Low (or vice versa).  The transition from topic 2 to 3 above currently goes from low to very high, so I might want to make sure that the transition doesn’t feel too abrupt.  I can do this by adding a medium to high energy game or exercise at the end of topic 2 so it ends on a higher energy and smoothly transitions the energy for topic 3.

Exceptions: Sometimes, I want to emphasize a high (or low).  I love ending a series with a high energy but sometimes the last topic is medium energy and it really is the best topic to end on.  I can make the medium topic feel higher by making the topic before it very low energy.  This makes the change of energy seem more drastic so the medium energy ends up feeling higher.

After playing around with it, here is my adjusted order:

  1. High – Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Low to Medium – Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them + game
  3. Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Medium – Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Low – Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Low to High to Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. Medium – Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  8. Low – Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. High to Very High – Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story

 

Step 7: (A lifetime) Grow & refine your topics.

If you want people to continue taking classes with you for a long time, you need to keep growing your knowledge base and adding more content to your arsenal.  For example, instead of only having 5 musicality topics, I now have 17.

My Current Musicality Topic Order

  1. Energy Changes
  2. Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  3. Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  4. Overall Feel within Same Songs
  5. How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  6. Creating A Story – Pick a Basic,  Go Outside of the Basic & Return, Adjust the Basic & Return
  7. Rhythm Options
  8. Large Phrase Changes (A to B, chorus to solo, etc)
  9. Subtle Phrase Changes (A to A)
  10. Hitting the Horns, Pianos, & Other Surprises
  11. Being Your Own Instrument
  12. Measure/Bar Repetition (not sure if this is the right terminology but basically repeating patterns that are as little as 3,4, 6, or 8 counts long)
  13. Choreography – Surprising Your Partner (or the crowd)
  14. Texturing
  15. Clarity of Rhythms
  16. Single Rhythms Versus Double Rhythms (probably not accurate wording)
  17. Breaking Down Specific Dances To See How Well Different People Do In These Categories… Are there trends based on styles?

 

Bonus Thoughts

Topics can be full classes but they don't have to be.

Some of your topics might go well in the same class.  Sometimes you might find that a topic only takes half of class (or takes 1.5 classes) to cover.  The great thing about planning your classes with such a clear outline is that you can be more flexible with how things flow at a moment’s notice, confidently knowing that you can easily adjust your next class because it is so well prepared.

Details about choosing the topic order.

It is generally set up from things that are more clear and obvious (emotional changes & volume changes) to things that are less obvious (subtle phrase changes) or harder to do (texturing & single rhythms vs double rhythms).  I also might want to challenge them with one topic and then give them something easier in the next topic.  Plus, I might come back to some of the topics several times rather than try to get them perfect on the topic before moving on.  All of these additional factors can make your basic plan even better!

How to keep students coming back for more?

By creating this plan you can always know what you are teaching next.  At the very end of class, make sure your students know too.  Students don’t always show up every week, even when it is a series of classes they already purchased.  Improve the odds that they will show each week by quickly showing them what you will be working on so they can look forward to it all week long.  Make sure it looks or sounds exciting!  This one minute demo is more important than you might realize.

 

Your Homework

1. Set aside 40 - 85 minutes to implement this plan. Put it in your calendar or set an alarm right now.

It is super easy to read something, bookmark the webpage, and forget about it forever.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Don’t miss out on all the benefits just because you didn’t set an alarm. Remember the Benefits

  1. This 7 step plan will teach you the exact A-Z steps you can take to create classes that progress off of each other, while being interesting, offering variety and keeping your students coming back for more.
  2. By following our plan, you will gain the confidence that comes from knowing you have taken the necessary steps to choose the best possible path for your class series.
  3. The plan will clarify all your awesome material and prepare you for teaching workshops as well as series classes.
  4. Organizers looking to hire you will be impressed when you show them the work you put into your classes.
  5. The plan will allow you to be more flexible on the spot so your classes don’t get stuck feeling the same.
  6. This plan will save you loads of time (hours or even days)!

2. After you create your plan, tell us about it in the comments below.

If you want, share a link to your plan and start a discussion about what you like/dislike about it.  Maybe someone else will be nice enough to give you some feedback on your plan!  If nothing else, you will be giving inspiration for others to create plans too (which is awesome)!

 

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