top of page

What to Do When Your Students Finish the Year's Curriculum Before the End of the Year

a young girl considering a question

It's a great problem to have, but what do you do when you have a class that has covered all the material for that level in your ballet curriculum and you still have three weeks left in the season? You need a different approach to your lesson plan. (This also applies when you are repeating a unit but don't want to repeat combinations.)

Usually I plan my lessons like this:

key concept → key vocabulary → new vocabulary → grand allegro

And then I work backwards from there. For example, if I was planning a class for Level 2 my thought process would look like this:

key concept: stability combined with head coordination. This will be incorporated into every exercise.

key vocabulary: alignment. This will also be incorporated into every exercise.

new vocabulary: soubresaut, chaîné, chassé en arrière. Soubresaut will be prepared by

relevé sous-sus in combinations at the barre and in the center. Chaîné will be supported by balancing in first with the arms in first as well (the shape we will turn in). Chassé en

arrière will be supported by glissé en arrière in combinations at the bare and in the


grand allegro: 2 chassés de côté, 2 changements, 2 chassés en arrière, détourné, demi-plié

count 8, 2 pas de chat, 2 changements, 2 pas de chat, run off

From there I would create the rest of the combinations making sure to build the movements necessary for grand allegro along the way. (Class just feels better when grand allegro is full of familiar movements instead of coming out of left field.)

That process works great for me most of the time. But when there isn't a lot of material to introduce (either because it's been an amazing year or because we're repeating a unit) I like to take a different approach:

1 favorite combination, 1 medium challenge for today, 1 big challenge for this month

Every time I sit down to plan this type of class a part of my brain goes "oh, but I want to think linearly!" but that's silly. This approach isn't any less linear or more chaotic that what I usually do. Things are just prioritized differently.

1 favorite combination: this is intended to be a favorite of the kids', not mine. Sometimes it's one of my exercises that we've done together and sometimes it's one they've learned from someone else. Sometimes it's one they look great doing and sometimes it's . . . a growth opportunity that I will smile through. The purpose is to give the kids something I know they will enjoy doing.

1 medium challenge for today: whenever it makes sense, I like to make this a progression or variation on the favorite combination. It should be too difficult for the dancers to do well the first time, but not super-far ahead of where they are today. Once I have this in my notes I come up with as many supporting combinations as I can. I know that we will be spending a lot of our class time trying and refining this, so I plan fewer combinations than usual. The purpose is to give the kids a chance to see their growth in one class (rather than over a series of classes) and feel proud of their progress.

1 big challenge for this month: this one is designed to be a stretch. Sometimes I base it on vocabulary that needs some extra love but more often I will use it to challenge the dancers in a way a vocabulary list can't include. Examples include: challenging stamina by making it longer than usual, changing directions in an unfamiliar way (I watch variation videos to get inspiration for this), making a brain teaser that changes between right and left a lot, giving a very fast combination . . . The purpose is to give the kids an opportunity to practice their growth mindset and develop grit alongside their technique.

The end of the year is a great time to try a new lesson planning method. Using the 1 favorite combination, 1 medium challenge for today, 1 big challenge for this month model does more than "just" include a beloved combination (although that has value on its own). Challenging myself to plan my lesson prioritizing a different way helps me think more creatively, and that's growth I will take into all my future lesson plans no matter what model I use.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page