I’ve just finished my first month of teaching Hybrid style classes at my studio, Grooves Unlimited (Livingston, NJ), and it was AWESOME. If you’re a Tap Teacher who’s set up for Hybrid this season, I want to share with you guys some tips and tricks on how to make this awesome class for both you and your students.
What is Hybrid? Hybrid is when you simultaneously teach dancers who are in the studio with you, as well as dancers who are zooming in from home. You teach them both at the same time in the same class.
Why run a Hybrid Set-Up? Rather than having 4 kids on Zoom, and 10 kids dancing in a studio separated into 2 different classes, you can teach all 14 kids in 1 class at the same time with a Hybrid Set-Up. This is better for a dance studio to do financially. They pay 1 teacher to teach 1 class to 14 kids, rather than paying 2 teachers for 2 separate classes for the same 14 kids.
Other benefits of Hybrid? Hybrid is also beneficial because it allows families to take their time to return to class which is very important right now, because everyone’s at their own comfort level with indoor activities and COVID these days. You’re also going to undoubtedly run into a situation where a student tests positive, or a member of their household tests positive, or a friend they were at a picnic with tests positive, and they may be prevented from attending dance class. You want to make it easy for them to continue shuffling with you during these uncertain times.
Is it easy to do? I went into my first Hybrid class thinking to myself, man… I’m a good teacher… but am I THIS good? Can I really pull this off? I was nervous, but with the proper preparation and adjustments to my class, I was able to pull off an AWESOME Hybrid Tap class and also train my Team at the studio to do the same. I don’t want to say it’s NOT easy, and I don’t want to say it IS easy. It’s just different. Hybrid is a different way of dancing, it’s a different way of teaching, and there’s nothing wrong with different, especially when different allows you to continue working with your students from afar.
Here we go! My tips and tricks on how to teach an AWESOME Hybrid Tap Class.
#1 Get your tech set-up right
If you don’t have the proper equipment, it doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you are. If your students can’t hear you, or see you properly, their class experience isn’t going to be good.
This requires some investment into quality tech. I find that most dance studio owners are in two camps… one is, “money is tight and I’m not willing to spend money right now”. And to those studio owners I say, this is an investment. You will make money by spending this money. You’ll retain your students, you’ll bring in new students, you’ll grow your program at a time that you need it the most.
Then there are the studio owners who say, “I’m happy to spend the money, but I don’t know what I even need” and they get overwhelmed with the amount of technology involved. A quality Hybrid class set-up requires good technology.
I’m offering a course in the iTapOnline Member Center that shows you everything you need for an awesome Hybrid set-up, and how it all connects together. I have everything setup so that our students are able to hear and see us, crystal clear. They’re not hearing the sound of the room, they’re hearing the sound of the teacher, and the music, and those two audio channels are properly mixed together. My Team spent 2 months of the Summer researching, testing, buying and returning equipment so that we could find the best way to do this. We’ve done the work for you. Everything is ready. iTapOnline Members have access to this course as a part of their Membership, so to my iTapOnline Members, you can head to the Member Center to check that out. I’m also offering this info to non-members, so if you are not yet a member of the iTapOnline, go to www.itaponline.com/hybrid to check it out.
#2 Keep Zoomers Engaged
If the kids on Zoom are younger, under the age of 8, you need to constantly say their names. It reminds them that you can see them, and that you’re paying attention to them, and it decreases the likelihood of them disengaging from the class. They need that sense of accountability to stay involved. Tweens, teens and adults need this sense of accountability too!
#3 Interaction Between Zoomers and Roomers
Let the students who are in the studio stand in front of the camera to wave hello, or to demonstrate. Ask them a question that everyone gets to answer, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor? These are the things that connect kids together. What brought them all to class was their love of tap dance, but also their desire to be around other people. They need human connection. And the dancers who are at home, they feel isolated from the world right now. Giving them that sense of human connection right now, with a human that’s not just their teacher, will make a big difference in their class experience.
#4 Have the TV in the back of the room
This means you can see your Zoomers while facing forward in the mirror. It gives you eyes on everyone at all times.
**Important: my TV is in the back of the room, but my camera is in the front of the room. You can learn more about why that it in my Hybrid Course**
#5 Turn the Camera Off When Not In Use
If you don’t have anyone zooming into class, log out of Zoom. Sounds silly, but some people forget to do so. You need to be clear on when your mind needs to be in Hybrid mode, vs when it needs to be in regular in-studio class mode.
On a side note, at my studio, we are not allowing parents to watch our classes through Zoom. Our classes are a Kid’s Zone only, and our Zoom rules include that every screen must have their camera turned on, and must have a child behind the camera. If your camera is not on, or we’re staring at an adult, for a kid’s class, you will be kicked out of the room. This policy has not been an issue for us.
#6 Most important, don’t forget your Zoomers!
They are there. The whole time. Don’t forget about them. Visual cues like having your TV visible in the mirror, and Zoom set to Gallery mode, will help you remember that. It’s easy to let your mind hyperfocus on those who are standing in the room next to you, but make sure you remember those dancers who are on Zoom.
#7 Vice Verse, don’t forget your Roomers!
Don’t get so caught up in managing the Zoom dancers that you forget about the ones who are standing right next to you in class.
#8 Make sure you’re engaging with all the different tap dance learning types
To all my Tap Teachers out there…
What we’re doing this season isn’t easy, but I hope that these tips and tricks will make it easier for you. I’m wishing you all the best this season!