How To Manage Multiple Levels in the Same Class

Published on November 15th 2018 by Hillary-Marie

Today I’m going to give you my favorite tips and tricks on how to manage multiple levels in the same class (with a special gift at the end!)

Why do you have multiple levels in the same class?: (1:01)

  • Studio availability is limited
  • Teacher availability is limited
  • There aren’t enough students to separate them by age and/or level so the studio owner has decided to place everyone in the same class (if this is you, Check out Episode 001: How to Build Your Tap Program, to help you increase the number of students enrolled in tap class so you eventually have the ability to separate the classes by age and level)

A tap class with a range of ages and levels is better than no tap class at all and while it can be tough to manage, the good news is that it is not impossible!

Common Classroom Management Options: (2:07)

Most teachers manage multiple levels in the same class by doing the following...

  1. Teaching to the lowest level (“No Man Left Behind Mentality”)
  2. Teaching to the majority level (“Majority Rules”)
  3. Teaching to the highest level (“Leave ‘em in the Dust”)

Would you believe me if I told you there is another way so that they each walk away equally educated and inspired?

Tip #1: Have an Assistant (3:00)

Having an assistant who can quickly help out the dancer who is struggling to keep can prevent them from feeling “Left in the Dust” and the rest of the class won’t feel dragged down by the “No Man Left Behind Mentality”. 

Tip #2: Practical Application (4:06)

Seek opportunities for practical application. This is a key component in my teaching philosophy because I feel dancers deserve and need the opportunity to take individual time to apply whatever lessons are being passed along to them.

Pair the dancers up with a partner who is equal to their level. Ask them to build a combination with four steps that they learned that day (this helps them work at their own pace) and when it’s time to share, ask the other dancers to identify the four steps in the combination (this prevents division in the class as dancers focus on their own needs while relating to the other dancers around them).vThis also gives you the ability to walk around the room and help out the dancers as they work together. 

Have them do the same thing with a conceptual Timestep by building an AABA or a Three-and-a-Break. Check out Episode 003: What is Timestep Tuesday for more information on this awesome teaching tool. 

Practical application opportunities prevent the “Majority Rules” concept by keeping your highest and lowest level dancers equally as engaged as the majority.

Tip #3: Games (5:55)

Incorporate games that accommodate multiple levels, like “No Peeky Peeky” or “Mother Goose!” I am excited to have added a tap dance games section to the iTapOnline Member Center. iTapOnline Members can head over there and check out a new list of exciting games that can easily accommodate multiple levels of dancers in the same class!

Tip #4: Progressive Exercises (6:33)

My true secret ingredient that has made managing multiple levels in the same class a piece of cake: Progressive Exercises. I swear by this and my teaching philosophy is built off of it. These exercises have the same format and shape for beginner, intermediate and advanced level dancers, maybe even the same song, but the difference between the levels is that the subdivision progresses as the level gets harder. 

If you don’t know what subdivisions are, or need help with music theory, please check out my free Rhythm Training for Tap Dancers Video Series.

Progressive exercises mean you can have an entire studio of tap dancers of different levels warming up together, learning together, growing together, on the same page as each other while having their individual needs met. 

I Want to Hear From You! (8:04)
If you are a teacher that has to manage multiple levels in one class, you can guide each dancer to do what is best for them. If you do not have this challenge, you can still use each warmup according to the level of your class. 

I want to hear from you! If you are a teacher currently managing multiple levels, what has been your biggest struggle or greatest success in making it work? If you try my tips and tricks, please comment and let me know or share your experience in the iTapOnline Community Facebook group. Please comment and share your thoughts because I ALWAYS write back and I am super excited to hear what you are working on! 


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