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Next week the wonderfully talented Bobby Beakbane will be co-hosting a Zar workshop at Summerhall Arts Complex.  There’s full information on the Zar into the winter: Dance for expression, healing and fun! Facebook event page, extract below:

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Date & Time: Thursday, 15 November 2012, 19:00 until 21:00

Venue: Summerhall Arts complex

Cost: £14 / £10 concession (nibbles and wine included).

To book: email robertadmp @ gmail dot com or message Roberta on Facebook.

“Kick start the gloomy days with a Zar ritual dance accompanies by live musicians.These experiential workshops explore the cultural roots, context and the ritual of the Zar ceremony. This workshop will use led and free dance and be accompanied by musicians, it is open to women of all ages, ethnicities, orientations and dancing backgrounds.

“Facilitated by Roberta Beakbane and Ali Giles. Roberta is a dance movement therapist and tribal fusion belly dance performer and teacher currently based in Edinburgh. She has spent the last three years living in Korea and traveling extensively to learn about the cultural roots and expression of various dance forms.
“Ali is a holistic therapist and healthcare professional with a long standing interest in the connection between body and mind and its relationship with health, wellbeing and the disease process.

“A little about Zar.

“Rather than being a dance style, Zar is a trance ritual that predates Islam and is still performed in many Middle Eastern and North African countries with the sole purpose of healing.
“The zar used a distinct rhythm and movement involves hair tossing and swaying and is often described as providing a means to release emotion. Now Zar is often used for performance and incorporated into Arabic dance.”

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Earlier this year I wrote quite a long post about teaching with tips for teachers. Having re-read it recently I think there are a couple more tips that are also important.  More fundamental, perhaps, than what I wrote then.  This is what I’m talking about here.

1. Lesson Planning

Have a plan, let your students know it and make sure you stick to it.  Now it is fine to go off on a tangent if something relevant comes up, but make sure you get back to the main thing you had planned to do, and make sure you do it.

Tell your students what you’re planning on teaching them, and then teach them that. If you want to be really awesome, summarise what they’ve learned at the end. This is the older teacher’s hat trick of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them it, then tell them what you told them.”  One of the best examples of this I’ve had lately is the ATS Classes at Drummond High School.  On the first day of term I was given a list of the moves I’d be learning during the term.  And we did learn all the moves that were on the sheet. They also handed out a suggested music list and some biographical information about the teacher, which was very helpful and informative.

To help keep you on track a playlist can be really helpful.  If you’ve planned it out beforehand, you can pick music that suits what you want to teach in the class.  You can have your warm-up music, then music suitable to whatever you’re teaching, and lastly the cool-down music.  Build your playlist so that it’s as long as your class is. Then, if that’s running in the background, the start of the cool-down music will remind you it’s time to start winding down the lesson, stretching out and summarising what you’ve taught that day or so far that term.  It will also help keep you on time, which leads nicely onto the next tip:

2. Time Management

Be mindful of the time.  There’s nothing wrong with looking over at a clock or your watch to check how much time there is left in the class and adjusting your teaching accordingly. Make sure you bring a watch or a clock – don’t rely on the venue!

I know that sometimes it can be rude to check your watch – teaching is not one of those times.  When teaching, it is rude not to be mindful of time. If you don’t pay attention to time you could overrun. This is particularly problematic if there is another class waiting to get into your space. There was one particular class I was a student of where the (non-bellydance) class before always overran by 3-5 minutes and that ate into our time. It was so frustrating.  We use to stand at the side and jingle our coin belts to try and give their teacher a not-so subtle hint.

Even when you’re not eating into another classes’ time, if you overrun you are eating into your students time.  They will more than likely have somewhere to be once class is over. In your class there are probably a few busy people who have every minute of the day accounted for.  There may be students who have arranged childcare to cover the class and need to get back to their kids promptly. If you don’t finish on time you are eating into their time, time which they have not agreed to give you when they signed up for the class.

I once had a workshop that started very late because we were all chatting, teacher included.  Because of the late start the workshop overran by at least 30 minutes.  I say “at least” because at that point I had to leave as I’d made arrangements for later in the day and couldn’t stay any longer. The workshop kept going after I left.  That teacher’s lack of timekeeping meant I had to choose between missing out on teaching I’d already paid for and was looking forward to, or being late/missing the thing I’d planned for later.  So while it might seem rude to start a class when people are still chatting, it’s really not.  You are being respectful of everyone’s time.

Many thanks to the lovely Atiya who got me thinking about this.  She’s starting classes up in Dundee – if you’re in the area go check them out!

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