Over the course of the PG Cert Project module I have developed my learning and thinking with respect to both my personal and professional practice and my research and scholarly skills, all of which will help me as I move forward as a Dance Teacher and Practitioner and as I move onto the Final Project next session.
Key Goal 1 – Improving Questioning Practice (Research and Scholarship)
Much of the learning on this module has been based around how to write academically, putting together a project proposal and exploring questioning and observation skills. One of the most important learning points was to grasp the difference between practice-based and practice-led research. Initially, although I was consistent with the area I wanted to study I struggled to understand how I could use an intervention to make my project practice-based rather than led. I had a turning point with this at the RCS session on Saturday 12th November when in my blog I reflected on the day commenting that we learnt how to write academically and explored questioning and observation skills for use on the PG Cert module. The day also gave an opportunity to clarify the difference between practice based and practice led research and to discuss how to alter my project proposal to fit the remit. “I now have a much better idea of where I am going with the proposal and will work on it over the coming days.” (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/saturday-12th-october)
There were also a number of online sessions which I reflected upon which focussed on individual skills (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/online-session-131016/ and https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/online-session-27th-october-2016/) and it is in one of these in particular I feel I need to improve for the Final Project.
During my project and discussed in my Analysis of Data (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/analysis-of-data-final/) it became apparent that my interview questions were perhaps too difficult. I reported that:
“If I was to conduct this research again I would try to get more information from my interviews. This could involve more questions or rewording the questions so that they were easier for my participants to answer. In hindsight I should have conducted a pilot study of the questions.”
This I will take on board for next session and as such my first goal is to Improve Questioning Practice.
Key Goal 2 – Alternative Exercises for Injured Pupils (Pedagogy and Professional Practice)
Prior to starting my project I conducted some research and reading into some of the difficulties encountered by injured dancers and some of the recommendations provided by other researchers in this area. One of the most interesting was ‘Dealing with the Psychology of the Injured Dancer’ (Krasnow, Kerr and Mainwaring 1994) in which the three researchers reported that:
“Although the majority of dancers report experiencing pain during or after class, few cease training because of injuries. 97% of dancers studied (amateur and freelance rather than professionals with access to medical treatment on site) reported having been injured but only 20% reported these injuries. Of the 20% that did report injury, 43% carried on dancing despite doctors’ warnings. (Robson and Gitev, 1991)” (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/psychology-of-dealing-with-the-injured-dancer/)
They went on to investigate why this might be reporting that one such reason was pressure from teachers, choreographers and dance companies which resonated with me as I think I probably am a teacher (amongst the majority in the dance teaching profession) who, rather than allowing dancers to rest, perhaps push too far and teach with a ‘mind over matter’ philosophy. I pushed through the pain barrier as a child so I expect those I teach to do it too.
The recommendation from Krasnow, Kerr and Mainwaring was that teachers need more education in this area in order to reduce overuse injuries. Potentially pushing pupils too far goes against the inclusion agenda schools support and the kind of teacher I should strive to be.
To combat this I would like to learn a series of alternative exercises to teach pupils who may be working through an injury to prevent further damage but allow them to be part of the class.
Key Goal 3 – Recommending Physiotherapy as a Treatment Option (Pedagogy and Professional Practice)
One of the recommendations to come out of my study was that teachers should feel confident in recommending physiotherapy as a viable treatment option for dancers. I reflected that Dance teachers need to understand that given we look after the whole wellbeing of the child recommending medical practices such as physiotherapy can have a positive impact on all aspects of the dancer’s recovery. It is startling how negative injuries can make people feel which was supported by both my own study and from work by renowned researchers Mainwaring, Krasnow and Kerr who say “dancers’ reactions to injury involve initial negative affects that may become more positive as the injury heals”, therefore teachers (and schools) should feel confident in recommending physiotherapy as a treatment option. (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/project-conclusions-and-recommendations-draft-1/)
As I am teaching a number of competitive dancers this is even more important as in order to perform at their best they must strive to remain injury free. My third goal therefore is to actively recommend (an be confident in this recommendation) physiotherapy as a treatment option. I hope to retian close links with Midlothian Physiotherapy in order to do this.
Given my own personal experience with injury and subsequent physiotherapy over the last year I am even more in support of this treatment option. In a number of blogs I looked at different aspects of physiotherapy such as mobilisation (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/own-physio-sessions/) and deep tissue massage (https://aislingrcs.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/deep-tissue-massage/) and many of the participants in my study supported my belief that physiotherapy can benefit both the physical and psychological aspects of dance injury:
“It made me feel a lot more confident“, “It made me more motivated”, “I feel that physio definitely did help in a sense because if I didn’t have it it would probably have taken a bit longer for my ankle to get better”, I could see and feel that I was making good progress and so I felt like I was on the right track and would eventually get better.”