All dance teachers provide their students with feedback. It is a crucial part of helping our students grow and improve. Today, we want to encourage you to take the time to provide written feedback to your dancers. Giving students and parents a written evaluation at your dance studio can have a huge impact on their overall experience, your retention, and help to grow your program.
We have included a FREE template for you to model. Be sure to fill out the form below and grab it! Now is the perfect time to start prepping your staff and finalizing your forms.
Need more convincing? A few more reasons to make it a priority this season:
1. You may be telling your students the same thing over and over again. Are they missing the point? Are they tuning you out? Sometimes having something in writing can make things more concrete. It also gives them an opportunity to read the information, think about it, and ask if they need more clarification. You are presenting the same information in a new way- which is always a great idea!
2. Are you getting pressure from parents about moving a student up? Or dealing with complaints that a student isn’t being challenged? A formal dance evaluation is a great tool to have on hand when these conversations come up. You can address the areas that their daughter/ son needs to work on or remind them of the requirements of their current level.
3. Evaluations are a perfect way to deal with levels. I recommend handing out evaluations at the end of the year. In addition to your feedback, include your level recommendations for the following year. This eliminates a lot of confusion- parents and students know when they can expect this information. If you receive questions mid-year it is simple, “we will be sending home written evaluations in the spring including level information for the next year”. Done!
4. Parents LOVE it. After doing evaluations for a few years it became clear how much students and parents looked forward to them. They took our recommendations very seriously. It sends a message that you care about their kids and their progress. This is an opportunity to go above and beyond for your studio families. It solidifies the value that you provide!
5. It’s an opportunity to deliver a specific message to your customers. Does Sara need to take more ballet? Tell her! Do you think Emma would make a great addition to your company? Let her know! We included a spot for listing recommended classes. For some students, the evaluation may be the only time you “chat” to the parent all year. I have had many parents reference the dance evaluation when re-registering for the following year. They may be hearing your general recommendation about taking more ballet, but may not realize that it applies to their daughter. I think yearly evaluations and including class recommendations on the evaluation played a huge role in getting kids enrolled in more classes at my studio.
Now on to the creation. The first year I sent home evaluations at my studio I kept it simple. Name, class, level recommendations for the following year and summer, and room for each teacher to write notes. This worked fine- but for someone like me who has a hard time being concise, I would spend HOURS completing my evaluations. I would write essays and I am not sure this information was easy for parents or students to digest. As my staff grew it was difficult to ensure that everyone’s evaluations were of the same caliber.
The next year, I moved to a simple rating system and took a little more time finalizing my requirements for each level I offered. After the initial tweaking, I was able to use the same set of evaluations year after year. The evaluations were clear for parents and not too time-consuming for my teachers. A few things to consider when designing your evaluations for your dance studio:
Class objectives– What are the primary goals of the class? Create a few clear objectives. You may want to consider classroom behavior, attitude, and technique. Surprisingly, keeping things pretty general, we were able to use the same objectives across all disciplines and age groups. We used a simple rating 1-3 to indicate how students were doing with each objective.
Skills from Syllabus- We went through our classes level by level and identified a few skills from the syllabus that we consider mandatory to master before moving up to the next level. If a parent or student is having a hard time understanding why they are not doing well in a class (maybe they THINK they are really working hard or that they have mastered the technique of a given level), a simple 1-3 rating on a skill can be eye-opening. It also helps students to clearly develop goals for the next session. As a teacher, I would reference these listed skills throughout the year. Having benchmarks can be very motivational!
School Philosophies- We include a brief summary of our school’s philosophies regarding levels and how long a student should expect to stay in a level. You are trying to make things very clear and minimize the number of questions you get later. This disclaimer can be something you reference if you are confronted with an unhappy parent in the future.
Communication Policy- What should parents or students do if they have questions or want additional feedback? Get in touch with the teacher? The studio director? Email or phone? Include it. Again, trying to be proactive.
Motivated to get to work creating that form? Depending on how many classes you offer and if you have a syllabus for each level this may take a few hours up front. The benefit is that once you create your form you get to spend LESS time evaluating your students and deliver a much clearer message. You are helping your students to improve, showing them and their parents how much you care, and creating value for your customers. Win, win, win!
Grab your freebie and get to work creating your evaluation forms! We have provided a copy of a dance evaluation form we created for a level 1 ballet class (ages 6-9). Feel free to use it as a template for creating additional evaluation forms. If you would rather have a Google Docs (editable) version, you can get it in this blog post.
Are you already doing this? Let us know in our Facebook Community. We would love to hear any feedback you’ve gotten from parents!
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