Tips for recruiting boys for KS4 & 5 Dance

One Dance UK’s Teacher Advocacy Panelist Katie Tucker of Great Barr School, Birmingham, gives her tips on recruiting boys for KS4 & 5 Dance:

For many boys attending an inner city school, being introduced to dance at secondary school may be their first experience of a dance at all. It is also an exciting opportunity to allow them to express themselves in a way they have not been able to before. When opting for subjects at KS3 & 4 dance is not likely to be something they have thought about before. Our job as dance teachers is to break down those stereotypes and bottle that raw talent and energy. Some strategies to help encourage male students to take dance options at KS4 & 5:

Base KS3 lessons around a theme, or a topical event. Boys that have never danced before will struggle with technique, and quickly become disengaged through fear of embarrassment when they can’t do it. Teaching through themes allows them to become engaged with the topic, and the technique comes later. At Great Barr we look at Sports Dance in Year 7, Avengers Assemble in Year 8 and Knife Crime in Year 9

I find that boys like to be creative, and creating physical work that involves lifts quickly breaks down any barriers to contact work

Offer trips for selected pupils in Year 9, this makes them feel like they are a part of something, and that they have been chosen. Breakin’ Convention in London is an annual trip the boys at Great Barr School look forward to.

Create an element of competition. Boys at Great Barr love to win! This is achieved through adding an element of fitness to lessons, and the winner gets a prize, doesn’t have to be anything more than some sweets. They like to feel recognised.

Positive behavior management and praise is by far the biggest tool. We all like to be praised, but I find that boys especially like being recognised in a subject that is out of their comfort zone. Phone calls/postcards home really help to raise the profile of dance in their own home, which is important when it comes to option choices.

A boys only dance club really helps to build relationships, which is so important, and makes them feel part of something and that they are valued.

Music choices really matter. Boys love music and it may not always appropriate but letting them pick their own songs for warms ups really helps to create a positive ethos. Great Barr School have boys that love producing music too, and they are creating a track for a boys dance performance.

The cross curricular collaborative learning really helps to raise their profile within the school. Using themed topics really helps pupils, especially boys, to make the connections for common skills across their other subjects. Whilst looking at racism, some of the boys chose this as a topic for an English presentation. They also wanted to know about human rights laws, leading to a cross curricular lesson with the religious studies department.