Respect & Compassion: At the very core of the Dulaine Method is the essential respect that goes into being a lady and being a gentleman. Dancing Classrooms is a program that demands that children not only treat others with respect but also respect themselves.
Coupled with respect is compassion. Perhaps it is Pierre’s own childhood that predisposes him to walk into a classroom full of children who struggle to believe in themselves, open his arms and heart to them, and then guide them gently along a journey that leads these young people to joy and accomplishment.
Respect and compassion are the foundational elements of the Dulaine Method.
Unfortunately, very few adults know how to treat children with genuine respect. And even fewer adults seem to remember what it was like being a child.
Being Present: Probably the most difficult skill for any teacher to learn is the ability to be completely in the moment when teaching. Children are extremely aware of when the adult in charge (parent, teacher, coach) is not really there; and when a child senses that distance, woe be unto that adult.
Pierre’s ability to “be here now” enables him to observe every nuance of individual and group behavior. He can see when a child is nervous, not paying attention, when the group is becoming antsy, and he can respond to those issues immediately, thus keeping the classroom experience flowing.
Being present also allows Pierre to express his own positive emotions towards the children at precisely the moment the children need that affirmation.
Creating a Safe Place: Asking children to take the extraordinary risk of embarrassing themselves in front of their peers is precisely what Dancing Classrooms does. And the only reason that the children are willing to take this risk is because Pierre has perfected a way to make that experience safe.
A Dancing Classrooms class is a place in which everyone is equal: the students, the teaching artist, and the elementary school staff that are participating. In modern jargon we call this creating a therapeutic milieu, an environment so different from these children’s normal daily environment that simply being in that room and being part of that collective group experience changes that child.
Command & Control: Clearly, if you are going to move 25 children through twenty 45 minute classes and have them successfully learn seven dances, you need order and discipline. Pierre is in command of the class from the moment he begins until the moment the children leave the room.
An essential part of the Dulaine Method is developing the craft of managing the group. When teachers are being taught how to work with children, their training is invariably focused on individual child development. Rarely, if ever, are student teachers taught about group dynamics and how to manage a group of children.
Language: Body & verbal Language are the great connectors in Dancing Classrooms. Pierre’s entire physical affect is one of openness, warmth, and genuine affection for the children. His verbal repertoire is a consistent barrage of positive comments. There is no denying that when Pierre combines his body and verbal language, he is a force the children simply cannot resist.
Humor & Joy: Dulaine has been commended for bringing humor to the classroom. Gentle humor can help a shy child become less self-conscious; humor with that same child handled poorly can make him retreat and never come back. Pierre is playful, he is present, and the children can sense that he is just plain happy to be with them. He also has this little habit of playfully slapping the students at Dancing Classrooms with his tie.
Being in such a safe place, where the boundaries are clear, the teacher is fully present, where respect and compassion reign – these are the elements that bring joy into the lives of the Dancing Classrooms children.And, as one teaching artist states:
“Dancing Classrooms is not about teaching ballroom dancing. The dance is a tool for getting the children to break down social barriers, learn about honor and respect, treat others carefully, improve self-confidence, communicate and cooperate, and accept others even if they are different.”