I was recently asked to lead on a whole school initiative we are calling ‘Connections’.
‘Connections’ is about embedding interdisciplinary learning onto our curriculum with two periods a week for S1 and 2. The idea is to learn and record key skills for success and employability through fun and engaging projects.
I have been asked to lead on this due in part to my range of experience and I am now building a team of people round me. We have four different ‘connections’ to cover each area of the curriculum and with the ‘DREAM’ (also our school values: determination, respect, effort, ambition and motivation) connection I am building a Performing Arts team round me and hope this will be e perfect opportunity to introduce dance and movement into S1 and 2 (at the moment we start at S3).
It is in the very early stages but I hope to blog about the progress as it goes along – perhaps a possible PG Cert project too??
Yesterday all the MEd second year students reviewed their progress on the Context and Culture module to date. It was really interesting to hear what everyone has been looking into and highlighted that the Context and Culture in dance module is quite different as there is no personalisation or choice for us. We have been participating in 30 sessions of contemporary, jazz and creative dance but I think I would be benefitting more from following the path everyone else is on and choosing an area of dance I want to improve as ‘better practitioners make better teachers’.
The weekend gave an opportunity to review how the module has been so far and a few things (as well as the lack of individuality) came out of it – namely that others on the course would really benefit from the sessions we have done so far. there is an irony in that we are the most experienced dance teachers on the course yet we are the ones being taught how to teach…and dance….
By the end of the day we had to create a mind-map of where we want to be in a year. This was really valuable is it gives me a real focus and a target:
Spent this evening preparing a short presentation about what we have done on the Context and Culture in Dance module to date. I am going to follow the journey from the early creativity sessions through to contemporary, jazz and what I have been doing alongside these practical sessions. I will also comment on my foot injury and the impact it is having on my participation and reflect on what I have been using and how well this has been working in my classroom/studio.
Feeling frustrated and a bit down about my foot injury today. I was supposed to be through in Glasgow for a day of dance with Yvonne, Kerry and Claire but being back at school teaching dance is obviously taking its toll on my already injured foot and yesterday my foot was very swollen. I was advised not to drive or walk on it for the next 48 hours so currently sitting with my foot wrapped in an ice pack rather than in Glasgow.
My foot injury has been a source of great frustration for me for the last few years and is only getting worse. I am scheduled for a scan tomorrow and hopefully that will mean surgery and pain relief is just round the corner….
Following a previous blog on the new teaching year and how, for the first time, I would be teaching contemporary dance, Jill challenged me to think about whether or not teacher expertise is always necessary. Obviously in terms of the subject as a whole it is but as in many subjects there is some degree of area of knowledge. For example, I always teach my Higher English class The Great Gatsby and steer away from Sunset, for example, Sunset Song as I have no knowledge of the book.
I am of course qualified to teach any text but teachers tend to stick with what they know. In that respect dance is no different but given that at the moment dance teachers have qualifications outwith the regular GTCS route we do all have subject specialisms – contemporary is not one of mine!
This new course though will qualify us as ‘teachers of dance’ and so the theory is we can teach all styles in schools. At the moment I am only teaching contemporary to S3 and so the level of expertise does not need to be too high and my ballet and jazz training gives me enough of a grounding, however, I wouldn’t be comfortable teaching Higher contemporary in much the same way as nobody who has no experience of highland can teach it. That is when students learn wrong technique and then risk injury amongst other problems.
So is teacher expertise always necessary? Not always, but in certain circumstances I think is is essential.
In 2011 ‘The Telegraph’ published this article highlighting the importance of expertise: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8326547/Thousands-of-school-teachers-lack-subject-expertise.html
Conversely, in ‘Education Week’ Walt Gardner asked, ‘Is Subject Matter Expertise Enough for Successful Teaching?’ which points to it being the ability to teach which is the most important factor for success rather than the intellect associated with the subject.
For a long time I have wanted to get back to a dance class for me – an opportunity to learn rather than teach. I have to be careful with my foot so Highland is unfortunately not an option at the moment but with plenty KT tape and jazz sneakers I have managed to get back to an advanced Jazz class I used to go to and I’m really enjoying it.
It is nice to go to a class you are not in charge of, you can brush up on your skills and you even get good teaching ideas – I have already used a kick sequence in my after school club.
S3 are currently working on contemporary technique which focuses my body in on this style as well. We are rehearsing a few different centre exercises focussed on control, twists and swings and bounces, and from the corner we are focussing on: runs and step ball changes.
The first ‘routine’ we have put together is attached below:
Filming is such an important part of dance teaching – to assess, to Be able to watch each dancer individually, to go over with students what they are doing well and what they can improve on, to peer assess, to decide where to go next or what needs going back over…the list is endless.