Here I am, happy to say that I am ending my third week of recovery! As you know, I broke both my wrist and foot in an exercise class. I’ve been back teaching for two weeks, now. It’s been stressful, but I have been able to manage my time in a constructive manner.
My biggest challenge has been executing and verbalizing my choreography. While I had been struggling with my energy and patience, I recognized the need for my observation.
Since my accident, I have heard and seen more leadership than ever. Since the dances have been learned, I am beginning to trust my dancers to use their teamwork effectively during rehearsals. It’s nice to start enjoying our hard work!
5:53 pm • 23 March 2013 • 1 note
Teaching on your injury: Primary Ages
I never thought this would happen to me, but it did. I was taking a gyrokinesis class, and my mat slipped on a dangerously sick floor.
So many questions came to my mind after the fall. “How will I teach my classes?” In a boot? On a chair? My Dr. Seuss rhyme is running out quickly as I struggle to choreograph with a broken foot and a broken wrist.
After one week out, I was able to find transportation to my classes. I came to my Oak Grove class and noticed a huge absence among the students. It was a rainy, muggy day which you could tell by the look on each of my students faces. I tried my best to encourage them to work hard and be leaders since I could not be there, physically 100%.
I finished my jazz dance this afternoon, but struggled to keep their attention. Since I could not demonstrate, I had to break down parts of my choreography and have them travel across the floor with this repeating movement. This was a high point of my class.
I was working hard with the girls, and using my body as much as the boot allowed. After 30 minutes, I had to direct from a chair.
I should have come more prepared to follow through with this. Juggling classroom behavior and verbal directions was very challenging for me. Help! What is the best way to manage this?
The last 25 minutes of class consisted of each dancer getting a partner and working on the dance while I observed. After 5 minutes, the girls switched partners. Over all this was a significant help, while giving me time to rest my voice and body.
I hope to come more prepared and with higher esteem in my class on Wednesday. I will definitely be reaching out to my peers- feel free to message with ideas!
6:40 pm • 11 March 2013
On Leading: You’re not a door holder.
We’re back in business at EIM, and as we are nearing closer to the recital, I have been busy creating arrangements (messing around with sound clips on my laptop) and choreographing for my students!
The girls love this part of the year, but with a lingering restlessness from the holiday season…
It’s time to get ourselves in gear. We have about nine classes left until the performance, and a lot of rehearsing to do. Considering this is my first time putting students on a stage, it hit me that our class needs leaders. I mean this with sincere depth. Not your average door-holder.
A leader is an individual who encourages the process of self study, observation, desire, and teamwork. They encourage others with their tireless sense of self motivation.
I see this impulse in my classes. At Brockett Elementary, my choreographic technique works to challenge the older students to become leaders. In only six months, children who would burst into tears over a lost sequin are now responding to leadership roles. I have been very happy with the results of empowering my students. Responsibility gives them the encouragement and desire to perform well AND help their peers.
I believe that you can take the time in your classes to respond to this need, I know I will continue to try in each class I teach.
Merde Monday to you all,
10:45 am • 25 February 2013
A pleasant surprise
Today, I received some wonderful and unexpected news! An e-mail was sent to thank myself and the company for all we do to help this particular student remain “so excited to go to dance”!
This came as a complete shock to me, because this particular child is having a difficult time finding her place in the group. Because she is very little, she “misses her [stuffed animal]”, and even an untied slipper can actually cause tears.
I have been addressing the independence factor, and it has not been a walk in the park. I try to be as creative as possible. The aforementioned student was given the opportunity to create a dance with her stuffed animal, so long as her group agreed on how they would incorporate a prop.
I used the same lesson plan for Wednesday as I did on Monday. Since both classes are wildly different, I wanted to see the pros and cons of my composition activity. My larger class was able to create groups and bevocalabout how they were/were not getting along.
The younger class is a bit trickier.
I paired the Pre-K students with older girls and observed them guide each other with new ideas. I facilitated different ways in which they could combine movements, and learn how to count with these. (This is a big challenge.)
The problem with this challenge is that my students either want to have a tempo which is too fast, or too s l o w.
But mostly fast!
If we’re being honest, I will speak for myself by saying that I struggled with counting, meter, and tempo until I probably graduated from college. (True story: Modern dancers tend to take those counts… and throw them away. But I digress…)
I am hoping that if I set an appropriate teaching example (such as my activity), this can be an early learning experience. I’m sure that these topics are covered in my students’ music courses, but there is a lifetime of growth that can occur between movementand tempo.
Happy once more. Yay dance.
9:19 pm • 7 December 2012 • 1 note
How I mixed it up.
This past Monday was the first day of class coming back from a holiday break. You can imagine the girls would be wound up, and bouncing off the walls, invincibly as they do.
I wanted to have a change of pace for the girls, since I knew that I needed to keep each moment of their attention on a rough day back. As you might have read, I’ve been trying to establish a sense of independence in my dancers. On the other hand, they need to begin learning from each other, collaborating, and finding a sense of “unison” or oneness.
That being a fundamental of dance movement, I finally broke up my class of 15 into three groups of five. I separated the groups with “props” such as pool noodles, and they were so intrigued. They couldn’t wait to hear about our new activity.
In the three groups, I told them that they were going to create a dance with their classmates. They each were told to think of a movement, possibly (hopefully) something I have taught them, and put it all together. For elementary aged students, you have to establish movements with counting.—5,6,7,8— This comes to some dancers more easily than others, which is why I wanted to break them up and observe how they are working.
I swear to you, the pool noodles saved my class. If it weren’t for the intrigue of being confined in a space together, being forced to create, I may have lost a lot of their attention.
And then it HAPPENED. I walked around to help and also observe how the students were getting along. 1 out of 3 groups did not collaborate, and wanted to perform separate dances. I, instead, offered the advice:
Each of you needs to create a movement. Whether it is “kick, step” or “push, turn”. When you do this, make it last for (2) counts only (for this exercise). You each will perform the others’ move, in a tandem sequence.
obviously… these 4 year old girls don’t know what “tandem sequence” means, but I did describe it physically and effectively. BECAUSE….
Suddenly— it clicked for MANY of my dancers. They were able to begin learning how to compose their dances. Did I just teach an elementary composition class? That was fun.
As my dancers were practicing, I have gotten them into a”recital mentality”. Many times, the girls will enter, perform, and bow as if they are on stage. I think it is a great way to practice and get excited for the show.
Have a great class!
7:02 pm • 4 December 2012
Yesterday, I experimented with elementary concepts in composition. It was a successful and rewarding exercise.
1:33 pm • 4 December 2012
Approaching the end of our first season.
We are approaching the end of my first season with EIM. Only five months until recital, and we’re on our way! Our theme this year is “Colors of Dance” and we will be working on fun and creative ways to express ourselves through color.
I’ll ask them: Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
I have a few creative ideas for my dancers, and I’m working hard to make ballet unveil itself as less strict and more imaginative. Of course, they are all very excited for their jazz dance.
Several weeks ago, we had a meeting to discuss classroom control, and each of our strengths (and weaknesses—in case we wanted to share). Many of us spilt our classroom management woes to one another, and graciously accepted advice from our steadfast leader.
Here are a few tips to break the ice before my next, more involved post on classroom management. I think it would be interesting to promote a dialogue about our individual struggles ( and strengths) as teachers.
- “No” becomes a strict answer to your children.
- Set your rules and accept nothing but this.
- Only give out ONE warning, you don’t have time to keep up with more.
- After the first warning, take out the child if poor behavior continues: KEY—do not let this child sit. They must stand and watch their classmates. (I will address their behavior after 5 minutes or one combination, to see if they are ready to join the class again.)
My students have been shaping up, and not just in their dance vocabulary. This past week, I’ve had dancers shine. Some of my students who were previously unable to grasp a concept (or keep up with a combination) were coming into class with a mission to succeed.
I had a conversation with each class about Speaking with Our Eyes. In dance class, it is very important to speak with your eyes. This is…
- One way to SHOW your teacher that you are focused and paying attention.
- It is also a good way to communicate with your audience.
Of course I made funny aversions to get the point across, but it worked.
It has taken MORE time with my larger class to gain the control and respect of each student. In my smaller class, we are working on gaining independence, which seems to be the biggest challenge for the young ones.
Since my students are now aware of the recital— the lights, the stage, the music, audience, and curtain, too— we are having to learn that Miss Lee will not be able to hold your hand for much longer.
It is very hard. Especially when your youngest students are upset about any number of things unrelated to dance. With focus, fun, and freedom… I’m hoping to have stable groups of performers.
but it’s only (almost) December!
7:11 pm • 1 December 2012