I called my mom the second I got out of work and announced, “My Dance Education Class has just paid for itself. “ After introducing the “Greeting dance” to my kindergarten through fifth grade students, I left work giddy and full of energy. I was amazed at the seamlessness of my day, the creativity of my students as well as the universal improvement of their behavior and engagement.
On the first day of school after the Thanksgiving break, I knew that many of the students would be groggy, tired, or sluggish from the break. I was tired myself. I knew that they would want to be engaged in something new, challenging, creative and in something that would allow every student to move over all of the space at the same time without creating a twelve car pile up. That’s why I decided to mix it up a bit by introducing the Greeting Dance.
The most amazing part was seeing how every student, even the ones with special needs or difficulty focusing, transformed their behavior into something I would expect from a professional dance company. Remarkably all I did was validate the students who were sitting correctly and quietly and the rest followed almost instantly. The students waited so patiently for their turns, moved so silently with their partners, and the level of creativity sky rocketed when I told them to find the most creative way to shake a body part with their partners. I could see how attentively they watched their peers and observed what they were doing, so that they could be sure they didn’t repeat the same movement.
I watched the shyest students, who normally tried to hide in the back, bend, twist, and contort their bodies to create moves that we adult dancers and teachers hadn’t thought of. The children had so much fun and danced so well that when the First grade teacher returned for her class I declared that I had lost the first graders and college level dancers had replaced them. Her paraprofessional declared that after more than 40 years of working with teachers, I was one of the best she had seen because of the way I managed the students and the dances we created.
Maybe a person walking into my class for the first time would only see a bunch of kids engaged and having fun. I know that they are also learning how to innovate new movements, interpret directions, collaborate with a partner, move along a pathway, dance in their own space, create new movements and actually watch their peers. It will be interesting to hear their responses on what they think they are learning. My students teach me so much and give me reason to expect even more of them each day. I can’t wait for the year to unfold and for the new methods of teaching dance I will be exposed to in DEL Foundations.
… Olubayo Jackson, Dance Teacher enrolled in the DEL Foundations course