The Worst Part of Being an Elementary Teacher Might Be Teaching Dance

I was working on a different post but I felt that I needed to take a break to share with everyone just how much I sincerely hate teaching dance.  It’s probably the part of my job that I enjoy the least.  I can only assume that it’s the bane of many other elementary teachers’ existences, right up there with sex ed and indoor recess.  I would honestly rather have to do art with liquid paint every single day than have to teach dance ever again.

First of all, there’s just no proper space to do it.  Trying to have twenty-five children dance in a tightly furnished classroom is like hosting a rave in a shed, complete with psychoactive drugs.  It’s just really not the right environment for the amount of bodily expression that wants to happen.  So you send a group or two into the hallway hoping to ease the population density of the room, but you do so with with many hovering fears, including but not limited to the principal discovering your blatantly unsupervised pupils, another teacher getting pissed about the ruckus, or students performing parkour-like dance moves that could lead to a liability scare.  And if, consequently, you decide to do dance in the gym like I do, then you have to rely on doing it during your already non-existent phys ed periods, and suffer many location cancellations for assemblies, field trips, or surprise guest speakers (which happened to me today).  It will literally take you three months to get it done.

Even if you have a suitable dancing space, it’s still going to be Richter-scale pain in the ass because then you have to deal with all the drama that inevitably accompanies any sort of group work.  The students will argue about what moves to do like they’re auditioning for Juilliard even though they can’t reliably two-step to a beat.  Today I had to try to keep a straight face while one of my students told me through very intense tears that she wanted their ending pose to be this (arms across her chest all sassy, hip out) but her group wanted it to be this (leg out, jazz hands) and she just couldn’t agree with that!  I actually said, “I’m honestly not sure how to help you in this situation.”

We finally did our dance presentations today, and we had to try to get all six done in a thirty-minute gym period with a ten-minute final practice, because of course all of the groups were in a legit panic about how not ready they were, despite the fact that they spent their five practice periods play fighting, passionately arguing, and doing amateur gymnastics.  I swear some of the groups created their entire performance from start to finish in those ten minutes.  And no matter what, in the end there’s always one kid who knows what the dance is supposed to be, two who kinda do, and one who just has absolutely no effing clue.

Once the torture of running dance classes is over, THEN you’re still stuck with the terribly arbitrary task of marking that crap.  How am I supposed to evaluate something that I have literally zero experience, qualification, or talent in?  I feel like I might as well be judging Olympic fencing.  Who am I to give a student who’s been dancing since they were three anything less than perfect when I can’t even touch my toes?   So I give all the kids who can do the splits an A+ and all the rest get an A-.  Because at least they got up and danced in front of everyone, and that is 100% more than I’m willing to do.

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