“Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you!”
Does that ever work? Has a statement like this ever really made you do something or change the way you do something? I doubt it.
It probably doesn’t work on your students either.
Because people aren’t motivated by logic. They are motivated by feelings.
Because people can’t be motivated by others. They are motivated from within.
Anyone can tell you what you need. In fact, sometimes everyone wants to tell you what you need. But only you can tell you what you want and not-so-deep-down, you like it that way.
When it comes to dance students, most know that they need to give their all to succeed. They know they need to challenge themselves. They know they need to devour the information and corrections given to them. But do they do it?
A few do. They are motivated, perhaps intrinsically. Hopefully not by fear. Along the way they’ve become convinced that doing all of the above is the path to getting what they want.
What about the others who seem unconvinced? As teachers, we need to create an environment or experience that helps them motivate themselves.
In this article I give some strategies for engaging and inspiring your students toward self-motivation.
The Power of Positive Feelings
The threat of DEATH is not often enough to motivate people. We’ve seen this time and again, haven’t we? People engaging in unhealthy behaviors are rarely motivated to change and create new habits by fear or intimidation.
In the health industry, it’s been found that information and logic are not enough to motivate lasting change. The most effective motivators are instead emotion-based: pleasure and joy, and so some doctors have chosen to focus programs not on fear of dying but joy for living.
Creating an environment that focuses on the positive improves a student’s experience. It motivates her (or him) to not only comply with what you want her to do but encourages her to take action herself.
The following is quoted from a similar article about motivation (credit goes to this author for pointing me to the link above also). The subject is web design. Read the paragraph and think about how this applies to your students.
“If we get them to spend time on our web site, and they have a good experience, but then leave without doing anything–and never come back–does it really matter that they had a Good User Experience? Is a good experience an end in itself, or is it a means to something else? For much of what we design, what matters is what happens when the clicking stops (or for many web apps, just before the clicking stops).”
Our dancers are with us for a time. It matters that they have a good experience while they are with us but what matters more is that their experience lasts with them and continues to motivate them toward action later – as they advance in classes, as they leave the studio and enter life, as they move toward other careers, or as they become professional dancers.
A positive atmosphere that brings joy to the student is motivating! The following article, though it addresses parents, lists several ways to provide a positive environment for dance students, following A.C.T.T. principles:
- Show interest in the process not just the product
- Be aware of what you are communicating (be unconditionally supportive and positive)
- Appreciate their achievements
- Discuss mistakes and ways to improve when your [student] is ready.
- Resist joining ‘em when you can’t beat ‘em (or succumb to negativity around you).
- Recognize that not all hurts require a Band-Aid. (or help students deal with disappointment)
What are the two T’s?
It’s all detailed in the original article.
Students are motivated by positive feelings and joy.
Motivated students are in control. Doing all of those things they need to do is their idea and not forced upon them or lectured into them. Their needs and wants are aligned.
No more telling them to eat their vegetables!
They’ll eat ’em and like it!
Does lecturing motivate YOUR students?
Why don’t they do what they know is good for them?
What are your ideas for creating a positive atmosphere that promotes self-motivation?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.