The Silent Partner of the "Teaching Team"
by Jerry Stinson
Instead of referring to round-dance
teachers as "individuals," Roundalab refers to teachers as
a "Teaching Unit" or a "Teaching Team." In most
cases, this is an appropriate description. "Cuers" can work
independently, but when it's time to teach, a spouse or partner is
often needed. Usually there is a "teacher" and a "silent
partner." I want to dwell a bit on the "silent partner,"
since I am one of those.
I have learned from experience and
observation what is expected from the silent partner. The first and
most important rule is that I am NOT the instructor. My job is to
assist Frances, the teacher, and to do what she asks me to do. She
has her lesson plan in mind as she works through a step or dance, and
when I interject my comments it interrupts her teaching flow. I try
to comment only when asked to do so. That's sometimes difficult for
me. There are some Teaching Units where both partners are teachers
and both wear remote mikes on the floor. I have not seen this work
well, since any disagreement or conflict is projected through the
speakers. It's much more effective to whisper the comment or
suggestion so that only the Teacher hears. She can then incorporate
the information into her own instructional flow.
Another tid-bit that may help the
silent partner -- SMILE. Frances is talking and thinking and I can
help her by keeping the presentation light and pleasant. It would be
a mistake to overdo it with a comic routine or continuous funny
remarks since that detracts from what is being taught, but a cheerful
presence makes everyone feel better.
Dancers generally watch footwork during
a teach, so white shoes for teaching helps the dancer see the steps
and makes the instructor more comfortable in the presentation. Proper
frame and position are noticed by dancers who will eventually imitate
what they see. The silent partner can think about how the couple
LOOKS while his teaching partner is busy instructing. I still
remember Audrey Palmquist in her perfect stance with Eddie while he
was instructing from the floor!
Since I am sometimes dancing with
another partner while France is cueing from up front, it is important
that I immediately join her when she is ready to continue teaching
inside the circle. She should not have to ask where I am. It is even
better if I can stand aside and help her observe. I also position
myself opposite her when she is teaching from inside the circle so
that I can watch the dancers at her back.
Jerry & Frances Stinson are President of the Louisiana Round Dance Teachers' Association (LRDTA). This article was first published in the LRDTA newsletter, Footnotes In the Round, June/July 1994, and was reprinted in Round Dancer Magazine, July/August 1994 and in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, October 2012.