Getting the most out of online classes

With this time of sheltering in our homes, a lot of us, teachers and students alike, are turning to online classes as a way to connect to our community and to continue our education even though we can’t physically attend a class. But with all the distractions at home, how can we really get the most out of an online class when we can barely get through our own practice each week?

1. Turn your camera on

Just like your in-person class, the teacher will be guiding you in what movements to do. But unlike when you go to a physical studio space, you may feel like you’re not being watched as closely. Plus, you’re in your own house, so who’s going to know if you just duck out for a sec and pop the oven on to warm up before dinner?

An online class isn’t the same as an in-person class. We all know that. But at the same time, you’re still in a class, so you need to respect your teacher and other students. Turning your camera on so that the teacher can see yo is beneficial for both you and the teacher. For starters, you are being accountable for what you are doing and secondly, you are allowing your teacher the opportunity to see your movements and to make sure they are able to do their duty of care in keeping you safe when they’re teaching you.

By the way, everyone feels discomfort when the camera is pointing towards them. Being in a class is no different in that regard. Just try to ignore the camera and focus on your teacher. You’ll feel better for it at the end of class.

2. Mute your microphone

But… my house is quiet! I hear you say. It might be, until it’s not. The cat decides that 5 minutes into the warm-up is the right time to regale you in the sad song of her people, the dog hears someone out on their walk and decides to make a racket, or you step too far, kick the coffee table and swear loudly. How noisy!

If your teacher hasn’t already muted you when you joined the online class, go ahead and mute yourself when you join. Most online platforms work by showing the video of the “active speaker” this is the person making the most noise in the conference. If your pet is making noise, you’re breathing heavy, a loud car passes your window, then you will be on the screen for everyone instead of the teacher.

So just mute your microphone. Your fellow dancers will be thankful for it.

3. Ask questions

So, you’re all on mute. But you have a question. Big problem!

Or not! Depending on your platform your teacher has selected, there will be a few ways you can ask questions. The most obvious one is to wave your hands at your teacher. They can see then that you have a question, unmute you (or indicate that you can unmute yourself) and you can ask your question. Don’t forget to go back on mute after you’ve asked your question so that the teacher can explain without interruption.

Another alternative is to use the chat window. Type your question in and everyone can read it – including the teacher, who can then answer it for you all.

The last option is to hold your question and email it through to the teacher at the end. Now while this isn’t ideal as others may have your question and asking it at the time could have helped more people, if you can’t get the teachers attention through either of the above means, this is your next best option.

4. Make Class Time Special.

This isn’t just a chance to connect with your teacher. This is a time to connect with yourself. It’s a chance to turn off the ringer on your phone, to ignore the pile of dishes or washing and to focus on you.

So find yourself a space in your house that is away from your family/housemates. Put a sign on the door that tells them to not interrupt except if the house is (literally) burning down.

Take in everything you need. Water, hip scarf, your mobile/laptop (and charger if you don’t have enough charge in your device to survive the session). Then set yourself up ahead of time. Check that you can see the screen clearly. Use your camera or the streaming service’s online test system to see what the teacher will be able to see of you. Make sure you can hear and be heard.

And now you’re ready to go. Remember, it will be a little different to a standard in-person class. Teachers are doing their best right now to bring you a “normal” class in these far from normal times. The music might be poor quality, the video might be delayed, but everyone is trying their best to ensure that you can still access the classes you need.

APB Dance online belly dance classes are just one more item in your arsenal of amazing resources available online right now. Check out the classes below that are on offer, plus other things we have that can make your practice more comfortable.