Prepping the Kids or Preventing Mutiny

So from time to time I do some out of the ordinary things in my tap class. I may do a completely different class structure, I may use some really strange music, or I might try a whole new style (just did that the other day).

In the past when I've done these things I've noticed you can VERY quickly lose your class for any number of reasons. "What is that weird music?" you might hear or "Why are we doing this?" with that wonderful teenage tone:) In short whenever you deviate from the norm, it throws students off. Big time! And in general they don't like it. Unless it's tap games week, but other than that they are not fans of sudden change (most people fall into that category).

What I have found though, that largely mitigates this opposition to change is to simply talk to the kids at the beginning of the class and give them a heads up. If I'm using strange music, I will literally say straight up "I'm going to use some really strange music. I know it will sound really weird to you but it really inspires me. Can you be open to that?"

This does several things:

1. It prepares them ahead of time for the change so they aren't shocked out of their skin the first time they hear the song.
2. It puts a reason behind why I chose the music. It doesn't even really matter what the reason is - people like it when you have a reason. If the reason does have substance (such as "this music really inspires me", or "my Grandpa used to play it a lot when I was at his house and he was one of the most important people in my life..." then the kids tend to be even more open to it (doesn't mean they'll like it though!).
3. In asking "Can you be open to that?" I'm giving the kids the chance to step up to the challenge of trying something new. They will almost always answer yes and that helps align their mindset in being open to the new thing we're doing.

So as I alluded to earlier I tried a new style of tap I'm working on in a class a few days ago and gave all the kids a heads up ahead of time. It went great. They were super receptive even in spite of the new style being kind of tough and awkward at first. Now part of them handling it so well is that they are just great kids, but I would love to think that part of it is me giving them a heads up before hand.

So if you're contemplating trying something new in your tap class just let the kids know ahead of time and give them your reason why you're doing it. It will greatly increase the chances of it going well.

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