Participate in the National Dance Institute's Teacher Training Intensive in New York to learn new ways of creating engaging choreography and performances for middle schools students, 50% of whom emigrated from Latin American countries.
As a dance and theater educator, professional development during the year, develops skills as an educator in general. However, in the normal course of the year, addressing personal artistic goals which contribute to functioning as a highly effective dance educator, are usually not a viable option. National Dance Institute improved my understandings as a choreographer, refreshed my dance pedagogy and allowed me to explore my artistry as a dancer, by daily rigorous dance class with others.
Routine is critically important for students within any class. A typical school year includes extensive tinkering within class structure for optimum positive impact and maximizing effective classroom management. The National Dance Institute (NDI) intensive teaching artist training gave me new tools of engagement, and highly effective instruction. Their two teacher method is one that can be adapted to my room, in an effort to train the para-professionals that come with their students.
Engaging my creativity and choreography skills with dancers during the intensive, inspired and refreshed my inner artist. Performing for each other and for the 3rd-5th grade students we worked with, empowered my skills of collaboration and reinforced that what I offer students, above all, is myself as a creative performing artist. Two weeks of working with these children reminded me that as a dance educator I have an obligation to continue developing my artistry as a means of motivating others.
NDI pedagogy gives dance educators a format which is easily adaptable. Additional workshops addressed inclusion methods and ways of engaging peer mentors. When rehearsals begin for Curley Ambassadors of Dance and the Disney Musical in October, my methods for creating choreography, rehearsing effectively, and promoting a culture of rigor will be embedded seamlessly. New methods of choreography were reinforced in Ellen Weinstein’s choreography workshop.
Empowering me to use para-professionals & student trainers within my classroom, NDI also showed me ways to communicate my vision of dance's power. With a prior desire to integrate ELA into the dance curriculum, NDI’s methods of collaborative work are less complicated, more transparent and effective in their design. Within the school community, an ability to succinctly carry out mission in terms of needs and its impact becomes critical to success in a public school.
When classes begin, methods adopted will positively impact my relationship with students. Bonds easily formed will be reinforced mid-year when students demonstration their work to families to forge improved community engagement. Our thriving parent arts committee needs an infusion of new parents, and parents of children from diverse backgrounds. Living in New York reinforced that I am a community activist and that my work doesn’t stop at the end of the school day.
It is a fact, that arts education improves attendance and retention rates. One expectation that arose from this fellowship, was how to engage older students in the work, especially if they aren't interested in performing. The initiative is to create a tech theater strand at my school, already part of my purview. In addition to teaching stagecraft this fall, I will create an advisory board, that will allow students to talk about school challenges and a vision of their future.
If a workshop was all it took to change one’s teaching practice, and to instill a deeper understanding of dance integration, I would have had that accomplished years ago. It takes total immersion to advance; in life, work, community, & culture. Going to New York City for 2 weeks and engaging in some of the most rigorous classes of my life did just that. It gave me courage to persist, learn, grow and take risks. When I injured myself, I didn’t give up. To embody and share this is my mission!