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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The past two weeks, I have been battling all sorts of colds and viruses. I’m finally finishing my second round of antibiotics in the past 3 months, though I battled it like a hyena for its next dinner before settling on a better, a quicker recovery. (A Doctor’s appointment. Who has time?)
There have been a lot of changes in each of my classes, and I have decided to begin updating weekly with the progression of both classes.
My dancers now line up their backpacks, politely take care of (3) important dance guidelines, bathroom/changing/water.
At Oak Grove and Brockett, we have snack before, and wait patiently for dance class. Oak grove is very large (17) for a class to behave, and we share the gym with the older class. They now sit and watch the older girls warm-up, while not making bread crumbs with snacks by running amok.
We now have (1)Teacher’s Helper per class. This is blind draw, and changes weekly. A teacher’s helper is a LINE LEADER, a technique corrector, and generally a positive influence on the other students. Great for leadership, and this worked very well with a shy student who “acts out” (yet can recall what had been learned). Leadership for <1st graders is tough, and I believe that this is a positive challenge aside from the dance technique.
At Brockett, we have the same rule. This is a much smaller class, held on the stage in the cafeteria. We have a Teacher’s Helper who also gets to choose the student who will open the curtains at the end of class. This week I was so pleased that my youngest, most “attached” Pre-K dancer was chosen as Teacher’s Helper. She finally felt assertive! I’m not ashamed to say that it kept her busy. Those who teach the very young know how the attention span can be a big issue in classroom management.
This week was miraculous, and I hope that yours is, too!
I came into class wanting to wipe my slippers across the stage with ballet. As I suspected, I would need to keep the class at a high energy level to follow my lesson plan.
I have two very little girls in my Brockett class, but they love doing just what I do. The older girls love to be exact with their technique, so I give them new and different challenges each week.
Today, I structured a barre routine that had my girls “squishing bugs” with tendue, and “mixing the batter” with ron de jambs. We were able to cover both sides of our body, and I corrected each exercise after we completed.
This kept my dancers occupied and focused on their positions while helping me gauge the interest of each little girl.
There is a reason why dancers are some of the most diligent and patient kinds of people! After 20+ years of this, I would hope so!
We also covered our “Bubble Bath” song with gestures Of course, each little dancer forgot her tiara and promised to bring it next time.
If you all didn’t know yet, I share the gym at Oak Grove Elementary with another awesome teacher, Brooke. She has a class of older girls, while I have 1st grade and under.
Today, we decided on a more rigid schedule for our classes that would help our children stay focused and motivated.
Brooke is now beginning her class right at 3:30- while my little girls silently observe, with their snacks, until about 4:00. During this time, they can change into their dance shoes, use the restroom, and quietly come back to their seated observation. This worked out SO WELL for classroom management. Which is tough in a class of 17 girls under the age of 6.
When I began my dance class, the girls lined up to march over to our side of the gym (it is partitioned) for class. About 15 minutes into our warm-up, the FIRE ALARM went off. So I immediately took myself back to elementary school for a good old fashioned fire drill. Oy. Vey.
It was really too bad, since they were having such a good time. Finally, we went back into class and did a full warm up, reviewing our jazz squares and love for Justin Beiber. We also worked on stretching, and the beginnings of learning splits.
Though we weren’t able to learn our choreography for this week, there has been a lot of retention, and MUCH better listening!
Last week, I decided that my Brockett beauties needed some versatility in their lesson plan. I have two Pre-K aged dancers, and four slightly older students.
While some pick up movements quickly, others are learning best with gesture. I taught them a song with gestures that I l was taught as a little girl in my mother’s dance studio. My mom actually just gave me this music, and I need to find a way to get the tape copied to MP3.
I taught them “Tiara”, where they pretend that they are getting ready for a dance performance. This week, my little ones are bringing in a tiara to dance class. They’re very excited!
So our main points of interest for this class were:
Teaching primary aged students takes on a whole different perspective if you aren’t used to the idea of teaching little ones who are just developing boundaries and respect. You’re constantly having to correct behavior at this age!
And that’s okay! So long as you don’t let your students run your class, or eat you alive.
This is a particularly hard skill to gain with a large group, and I’m finding that I’m struggling a bit. Today, there was an outbreak of “sickness”. You know, the kind where they tell you “I might throw up” and in twenty seconds they’re doing gymnastics behind your back? That kind!
Luckily, my gracious and supportive boss took a visit to the school to observe. She then told me that these students had pulled the sick card on the old teacher, too. Hard and fast, she implied. If they are truly sick (not “sick with friends”) let them puke. You’re dancin’ today.
I’m finding it really helpful to meet parents, so that I may introduce myself and discuss a variety of great and …not so great behaviors. Anything from bullying, to not joining the class, participation, listening, etc.
My favorite part of this class was the RETENTION. I would say about 1/3 of the class remembered their jazz squares from last week. I was pretty excited.
I used a helpful cool down tool for my girls. This exercise can aid in teaching your students respect for others! We sat in a circle and showed the class at least (1) thing we learned today, and what it is called. (Eg. Tendue, Plie, Arabesque) After each child showed, we clapped. They were excited to “show and tell” which gave them pride, and well, if you’re in dance class, this is a good skill to have at a young age.
All adventurous girls do.
And so, my Oak Grove class is growing as a group of little dancers one building block at a time. Here was our schedule today:
Warm up, sun stretches, pointe and flexes, butterflies, rainbow L to R
Plies, tendues and releves
"Pump shampoo" combination ctn.
Across the floor: Jazz walks, chasse, skips, leaps over props
Hittin’ the stage with style at Brockett this Wednesday.
We have moved my girls to the stage, which has its strong and weak points. Unfortunately, after-care happens on the other side of the curtains before our class begins, so I have to keep a close eye on my little ones.
I am pleased, though. The stage has available chairs, which are helpful for classroom control when I need to change music or blink the eyes in the back of my head ;)
These girls have a fabulous memory and are very respectful. I don’t believe I will have any bullying issues with these girls. Especially since I implement the same rules that the school would follow!
We were able to complete:
Simon Says positions (1st-5th)
Word-of-the-week “bouree” (boo-ray)
across the floor combinations of walking, skipping, jumping, bouree and more
There comes a point where you have to casually ignore the photo-bombing of attention seeking children. By this I literally mean jumping in your face to get your attention.
Unfortunately, during my Monday class, my dancers were only successfully able to go through their warm up and across-the-floor exercises before getting restless and destructive. I like to think that I have GOOD classroom control, but I believe that this is the most difficult part of teaching primary aged children.
For the last 20 minutes of class, we had to sit in a semi-circle while we discussed the rights and wrongs of class, and why *exactly* we were not able to have fun.
Oh how sweet it was! Today was our first class, and my baby ballerinas are very well behaved and ready to learn.
With little girls (<5) you have to be reasonable with how much they are able to take in! For instance, the class time is smaller, energy level is high, and catering to needs should be manageable (at best!)
We began with Your typical “syllabus day” by creating rules.
My babies had the most hilarious “rules”:
1. “If you push and kick and flail and headbutt someone else ALL at the same time, they could get REALLY hurt”
2. “If you stare really hard and too long you could burn your eyes out and that would be bad.”
So needless to say I had to do some kid interpreting so they could learn the real lesson.
This class is being held on the stage, and we were cut short today with traveling between new and old classrooms.
I was still able to follow my lesson plan, though!
Word of the day: “Port de bras” (My friends are like, couldn’t just start out with an easy word?) NOPE! Children need to learn from an early age the appropriate way to use their limbs.
For instance: “Madeleine, where is your port de bra?” Allows me to introduce and use proper ballet technique terms.
-Lee’s Stretch/ Warm up
-Simon’s positions (introduce word of the day)
- “Going on a trip” and we’re taking a dance move!
They loved the last game. It make them think, take turns in order, express themselves and be creative.
I danced with a bouquet of flowers I found on the piano in our space. The bouquet was actually a vase filled with balloons, so I picked it up, and waltzed across the room with it. My girls thought it was hilarious. That, my friends, is a good sign.
So far, I only have 6 dancers in this class- but will hopefully gain a few more!
I am officially taking on my first teaching job. I will be an instructor for a company that brings dance into elementary, middle, and high school after programs. It’s great because A. We are bringing dance programs into schools that do not already offer a curriculum in such, AND we’re bringing our company into the schools so that children will not need to travel in order to take the class.) Sounds like a business plan to me, friends.
I’m thinking about my lesson plans, gathering my ideas, instruction and disciplines. Since I will have almost twenty children in my class, I need to have it together. YUP.
On my first day, which is Monday, I co-teach with another instructor and I think she is great. I think we’ll be compatible until my class begins the following week.
I know I should have been making myself blog after every-single-day of my work, but it’s just been too much. Because I have just had too much to say and not enough time.
So this may come in installments. Today was my (Last) day of camp. I was in charge of directing 4 plays in 4 different languages. I chose the story, I worked with the kids to choose the set and how their characters would act- then I collaborated with the Language teachers for scripts in their language and the style of the play. With help of the music teacher, we also had students playing instruments and narrating. We ended up creating something GREAT. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the counselors and teachers.
I feel so fulfilled to have run a theater production with so many children. One of my little boys that always got in trouble in my classroom came up to me and said”Miss Lee, are you going to be here next year?… Because I really hope I get to go to this school.” I almost died. It felt so good to truly love what I was doing. Though it was scary at times, I feel like I really pulled through.
Hey everyone, I haven’t been tumblring much lately! I have been really busy with balancing my social life and my work life. Trying to lay off the craziness of summer for a few days to recharge. Other than that, I’m doing well.
I’m loving this job, the kids really fufill me, and I feel like all other instances of stress seem to disappear when I begin working with them. The first week, I would hear kids saying, “I can’t wait to go to IT!!” and in the course of the week I’m hearing more and more… “Wow I can’t wait to come back to theatre!” It’s really nice.
I had an epiphany today. Have you ever thought, throughout your life, that teachers seem to have a commonplace job in this world? I may have once thought that, but not any more. Every day (good) teachers give your youth- young adults the tools to operate their future. I feel like I’m giving these students so much more than watching a screen. We’re doing full body learning, and it’s so important.
I’m very thankful for teachers. I hope that wonderful teachers continue to blossom. I never believed that I would be in this position until this month (especially after dreading it…) but it’s been an eye-opening experience. Some of these children will remember their teachers forever. Some for what they learned, some for how they made them feel, or some for their guidance and friendship. What more could you want in a teacher?
I wonder how many posts have begun in the exact way. Today was my first day teaching. Sure- I have taught before, but not in a classroom setting, and it is different. I’ve taught girls at sleep-away summer camp who wear bathing suits to dance class, and care very little.
This is more of a show of how I handle children, and the tools I am capable of using to help them learn. It was tough, and I was given one extra class today- instead of having a break. At least I was able to keep experimenting. That was the hardest part, determining what would work for each group. I had 3 Spanish classes, one ESL (that was both challenging and successful), Chinese&German, and one French class. Each class was a different story. My original lesson plan for the day had a successful effect on TWO of my 6 classes. Young children were a little bit confused, or not used to thinking & discussion rather than “do this. finish this."
This is definitely something I should remember. Since it was the first day, I think I got across my general objectives “pretty” well.
I am proud of myself though, I have honed in on some of my maternal instincts. I’m so much more reserved, mature, and thoughtful. It’s pretty amazing to see myself transform. Even if it is the first day- I see a complete difference in my interactions with “authority” and with children and young learners. I will say that I need to continue to play close attention to the ages of the students and what they are developmentally capable of. I believe they had fun, today.
Any recommendations are genuinely appreciated. “Ask me anything”
Here’s my lesson plan that I mentioned in my last post!
Week One Scope & Sequence
Goal for the week: To introduce each age level to pantomime expression and improvisation with the use of concepts pertaining to celebrations and festivities involved in each language section. Each age group will be given the same premise, tailored to their capabilities. Each language will be given separate ideas and concepts. For example: Spanish: Running of the Bulls; French: Bastille Day; Chinese: Dragon Boat Celebrations; German: Oktoberfest; English: Thanksgiving
Learning Objectives: To have each student become comfortable in their own space, to set boundaries, and to actively participate in group activities that promote creative growth and individuality. This will set a base for larger projects as the students learn from one another. This will be a building-block week.
Day One: “Creating Community”- an exercise in personal space and respecting the space of others. This will be a jump off point for students to become acquainted with one another. Topics of festivities will be introduced (will more than likely call for guidance from the Language teachers).
Day Two: “Index Act-it-out”- After a short lesson on “pantomime”, students will participate in activity tailored to the festivity topics introduced in the previous day. As index cards are pulled (from a basket), students will pantomime subjects on the card( they may use words, but not words on the card. “helpful gibberish”. This will be done in larger groups so that students will have a chance to work together. We will discuss what the students observed, and what changes could have been made.
Day Three: “Around the World in 30 Minutes”. We will refresh the pantomime lesson and move onto several larger topics. In groups, students will chose objects or places from their particular area of study, and develop different ways to portray that particular place/object. Rehearsing in groups will be done.
Day four: “Using our Voices”- Students will learn different ways to use their voices in a drama setting. This will range from inflection on to warm up exercises for older groups. We will take the lesson from the previous day and apply voice. Students will be coached and given questions and guidance for how to portray their character (object, place, animal, person, etc) “with voice”.
Day five: “Show time” Students will “rehearse” and develop short scenes (which have been taken from the previous days lessons) and will more than likely combine. From Day Four, students will have worked together, and do a very informal showing of what they have come up with.
Materials and Resources: Main coaching, directing, and “play” will require Index cards, a smile and plenty of space in the room for activities. I would like to record the showing at the end of the week and/or take pictures.
Assessment: Assessment will be done very naturally, and based on the students’ personal growth and awareness of their surroundings. Their ability to handle guided activities and teamwork will be the most important areas in being successful in drama.
Wrap up/ reflection: A series of comfortable questions about the activities and performance will be answered and discussed. The goal of drama this week is to have the students become comfortable with one another, ask questions, and maintain a steady and universal base for learning concepts in drama- festivities and holidays.
Observations: Drama requires specific attention to the needs of the students, and activities can transform as students take the lead. Though we will have a working theme, it is up to my guidance and the students’ creative mind to transform these activities into a comfortable learning environment. Having said this, I will observe and take report of what worked, and what did not work for each group, and apply it day-to-day, week-to-week.
Today was my first day of work, and I’m really tired, but somehow can’t seem to fall asleep (even for a nap). But something really cool/exciting/surprising happened.
Well- yesterday I was working on my first week lesson plan, scope and sequence. These contain learning objectives, activities and exercises, my weekly goal, what I will assess myself with from the feedback I receive from the students, etc.
I had been getting e-mails that were thanking those who has already turned theirs in, so I knew I should have it in by the first day at least. [ Or the day before ;) ] As we were going over our binders with teacher expectations ( I am a specialty teacher for Drama and Dance movement), Erika- the director, printed off my scope and sequence as an example for everyone to look over and use! I felt so proud of myself, since I am the youngest teacher there, and this is my first time jumping into the teaching world and seeing how it goes. It makes me so excited to work with everyone, and engage my students with the same passion that I have for the fine arts as a learning tool.
I just got my first e-mail about my camp news! Exciting, I suppose I need to start planning my first-week lesson plans. Scary!! I guess, I’m more excited than “scared”. If you have any fun theatre games for children, please leave them!
This blog is to serve the purpose of documenting and crafting the student teaching I will be doing at the Atlanta International School. Today, I sent in my presentation of projects and activities to the head of the Summer Language Program, and after a few weeks of researching, I think I finally wrapped my head around the vision I want to set on these children!
As soon as I got the job, I was incredibly excited. But the excitement soon faded into nervousness about my ability to complete the job they have asked me to do. I am coordinating a fine arts program in a culturally diverse student atmosphere. The students will be focusing on Chinese, English, Spanish, German, and French. It is my job to add cultural diversity to my already set knowledge in theatre and dance arts. They are leaving the curriculum up to my discretion, which made it even tougher to decide on my “vision”.
Lately I have been very interested in theatre movement, and bridging the gap between theatre and dance. As a dancer, full body learning is a big component to how I want to teach activities in the fine arts. This is my first time student-teaching as a specialty teacher, and it’s time to swim with the big fishies- if you know what I mean!
Hopefully as I find interesting topics, and see how things work out for me, I will address it in this blog as my current research and development of skills!