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Amelia Wells Kori Wakamatsu Dance 366 June 19, 2013 Teaching Philosophy Dance is a powerful artistic medium

that expresses life, human emotion, and thought on a very tangible and personal level as it combines the body and spirit to produce a visual response. I believe that dance education, while developing, applying, and achieving these same artistic aims and principles, also serves to accomplish a very different purpose. I agree wholeheartedly with Sara Lee Gibb in saying that dance, in an educational setting, serves to produce rounded thinkers, creative problem solvers, team players and confident leaders. Dance in education has the ability to lend itself nicely to fulfilling the aim of nurturing and teaching the whole child in preparing them for the future. World renowned writer, speaker, and activist, Parker J. Palmer explained, This profound human transaction called teaching and learning is not just about getting information or getting a job. Education is about healing and wholeness. It is about empowerment, liberation, transcendence, about renewing the vitality of life. It is about finding and claiming ourselves and our place in the world. This kind of teaching/learning exchange occurs in a dance classroom when we as educators are attentive to the individual needs of our students, and supply them with authentic learning experiences that apply to their personal selves. A dance educator should also be attentive to fostering individual thinking and personal expression, helping young students feel confident in their own skin and capable of overcoming challenges. I believe that dance education is able to do all of this when teachers are committed to conceptually based teaching and clear objectives and reasoning for choices and lessons. In dance, this is accomplished through two main focuses: technical instruction, and exploration of the creative process. Dance education should provide students with ample opportunities to participate in the creative process

and develop problem solving skills in a nonthreatening environment. As suggested in Gibb's Levels of Responsibility, dance education should help students develop these kinds of choice making skills by progressively providing more opportunities and options in movement, music, spatial, and timing based situations, until students are capable and comfortable in making clear, artistic choices. The creative process should be a focus in dance curriculum and should be structured in a way that it involves the individual while stretching limitations and abilities. This skill of creative thinking that can be developed in a dance setting extends far beyond a students ability to succeed on the dance floor or a performance situation however, as students gain skills and abilities required in many professional and personal endeavors. Dance and the creative process can serve a springboard for personal exploration and creative stimulation. Just as the creative process is important, teaching technique should certainly be an aim and focus in a dance classroom. Through this, students may learn diligence, attention to detail, focus, strength, flexibility, and determination. Students may also master coordination and bodily/self-control. With technical instruction, I believe that teaching safe practices and establishing good habits that will strengthen and protect the body should be carefully considered and practiced. Dancers should be instructed in how to dance and move in a way that perpetuates longevity and respect for themselves and for their bodies. My philosophy of dance education includes that just as in any subject matter, a teacher should maintain a professional relationship with students, while being someone that students can look up to and trust. A great teacher will always see the best in their students and maintain high expectations of achievement for them, always being motivated by sincere love and interest for the students' success and learning. While teaching dance technique and creative movement is clearly a part of being a dance teacher, I believe that connecting that experience to the outside world and helping students create meaning from

dance, developing higher order thinking skills and empowering them in all areas of their lives is the higher aim of dance in education. Best Teaching Practices In order to take an idealistic teaching philosophy such as previously stated, and turn it into a reality in a dance classroom, it is fundamental and central to our teaching purpose to understand and apply best teaching practices. Best teaching practices refers to specific guidelines, strategies, and suggestions for effective teaching that produces desirable and measurable results in students. Many of these teaching practices are general practices - relevant regardless of level, subject, or curriculum, while others are specific to dance education. I will address a few of these principles as Ive discovered them through research, class discussion, and personal experience. Preparation is key: To see best results it is essential to be organized and prepared as a teacher. A good lesson plan and clear learning objective could help you avoid many pitfalls and potential problems that naturally tend to come up in a classroom setting. For example, a dance classroom has the potential to be loud, chaotic, disorganized, and unproductive when students are left to their own means. With careful planning and specific learning outcomes, as a teacher you have the power to manage energy and engage your students to have valuable class time experiences and meaningful and engaging lesson. As was discussed in this class, a good learning outcome establishes the who, what, when, how, and why to our lesson plans. To be able to accurately and precisely express to your students what you want and expect as a teacher, you first need to clearly determine and define what you expect to accomplish in your lesson plan and design. Create a student-centered learning environment: When as a teacher we can shift the focus from teaching to a standardized test or only covering material and getting through curriculum, and rather focus on meeting the needs of students and providing supportive learning environments and positive, engaging, and relevant learning opportunities, we will be able to see clearer and more consistent and meaningful

results in your students. Dollie Lewis Sparmacher suggests five specific ways that we can create a student centered atmosphere. 1. Create an atmosphere of warmth and trust 2. Clarify ideas and indicate logical relationships of ideas so that students can see the products of group thinking 3. Clarify expressed attitudes with giving approval or disapproval 4. Lecture as the group feels that this method is most effective 5. Be responsible for organizing the means to be used in reaching the objective of the course I think that in terms more specific to a dance class, this would look like guided group work and structured improvisation. This would also be manifest in teacher attitude and the teacher/student relationship wherein students feel valued and noticed; simple things like mirroring your students during class instead of teaching them with your back turned to them, or vocabulary choices such as avoiding phrases like I want you to find a beginning shape and rather saying something like see if you can find a creative beginning shape, will shift the focus of the classroom experience from pleasing the teacher, or checklist style learning, to being a more meaningful and engaging process for the students, which will in turn produce better results. Balance process and performance: Dance education uniquely focuses on both the process of creating, and the object of achieving the desired product in our art. It is important that we design and structure a curriculum that successfully accomplishes both of these objectives. I have seen through personal experience that these two principles are often very connected- when students are involved in the process of creation, they take a more ownership and are invested in the product. This best teaching practice is important because it not only results in a better finished product or better technical dancers, but the process serves as a beneficial experience for students. Through participation in the creative process students develop higher order thinking skills, creativity, choice making, and problem solving abilities. The result of a classroom that balances the emphasis on process and performance or product is balanced students. One study done on the importance of process versus product similarly argues that both

are important to academic, personal, and social development in education (Gorum). A balance of process and product in a dance classroom might be evident in an appropriate amount of time being spent on technical development and sufficient emphasis being placed on choreographic participation, improvisation, and group collaboration during class. Time management: an important teaching practice that I discovered to be at times particularly challenging is the ability to manage time in a productive way in the classroom. There is a delicate balance between overwhelming students by trying to get through too much material, and moving too slowly to effectively maintain student engagement and challenge them. An experienced teacher is able to gage student involvement and necessity and adequately adjust class speed, while still accomplishing lesson objectives and curriculum. The Chicago Department of Education outlines several other important best teaching practices for dance that are proven to help dance educators achieve best results with their students in the schools. Their list suggests: Establish your authority, be a positive role model, leave time for reflection, know your students, recognize dance as an art form, evaluate students in different ways, have a plan-B, make connections and honor diversity, provide real world experiences out of the classroom, and teach students how to view dance (Chicago). While I have chosen to present my dance education philosophy and best teaching practices portion of this paper separately, I believe that they are very intertwined and connected. When best teaching practices such as those outlined above are understood and implicated in the classroom, then dance education can become a meaningful and developmentally beneficial experience for participants and students. My philosophy is my big picture outline of what I believe that dance has the power to do in education, and the best teaching practices represent a more concrete and definite means to reaching that end.

Works Cited: Gibb, Sara L. "Dance - An Integral Element in Education." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. Gibb, Sara L. "A Teaching Approach Fostering Creative Movement Levels of Responsibility." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. Gorham, Joan, and Walter R. Zakahi. "A Comparison of Teacher and Student Perceptions of Immediacy and Learning: Monitoring Process and Product." Communication Education 39.4 (1990): 354-68. Print. Palmber, Parker J. "The Grace of Great Things: Reclaiming the Sacred in Knowing, Teaching, and Learning." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. Sparmacher, Dollie L. "Student- Centered Teaching." The American Journal of Nursing50.12 (n.d.): 787-89. Print. "The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts :: Dance." The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts :: Dance. CPS, n.d. Web. 15 June 2013. <>.