This is an excerpt from Brain-Compatible Dance Education 2nd Edition With Web Resource by Anne Green Gilbert.
Reflecting about one's teaching practice is an important part of being a dance educator as well as a learner. An effective teacher prepares a personal mission statement and writes lesson goals based on this statement. Lessons are planned and presented with the focus of meeting these goals. After the lessons are presented, reflect on how well the goals are met, compare teaching practices with personal mission statements, and reframe problems for new action. Following are basic questions to ask after the lesson.
Did the students
- see, hear, say, and demonstrate the dance concept throughout the lesson?
- display knowledge and understanding of the lesson concept?
- execute the skills taught?
- have the opportunity to use multiple thinking tools?
- move safely?
- construct their own learning for at least part of the class?
- work together cooperatively?
- reflect on their experiences, ideas, and feelings?
- respect one another?
- take responsibility for their actions?
- express enjoyment?
Writing a personal mission statement is an excellent way to become a reflective teacher. Jot down observations of master teachers to emulate, as well as teaching styles or theories to practice. Write down dreams and goals for yourself and your students. Revisit your goals from time to time.
For example, the goal in my first year of teaching was to simply survive; now my mission is as follows:
Create a positive learning environment in which all learners may succeed. May they grow and develop as critical thinkers, collaborative dancers, and moral citizens of the world who understand and appreciate the art of dance.
When encountering problems in class, return to your goals. Ask yourself these questions: Are they too complex? Am I trying to accomplish too many things in a single lesson? Are they developmentally appropriate, or are they too easy or too challenging? Am I overly critical of my students' accomplishments or of my own teaching? Have I left out an important element? End by referring back to the principles outlined in chapter 2.
When classes go well, ask yourself why, and make notes about successes. When classes are less successful, again ask why, and seek solutions for the problems. Mistakes provide the path to growth. Blaming students is not productive, as is being too self-critical. Remember the values of patience and practice; be patient with yourself and your personal mistakes, and be willing to constantly learn and grow. Also, remember that practicing brain-compatible techniques will make you more proficient.
Review your mission statement frequently. Be honest about the reasons for teaching. Ask yourself these questions: Am I teaching because I like to take control? Or am I teaching because I wish to be a guide? Am I teaching because I hope my students will fulfill my needs? Or am I teaching because I want to fulfill the needs of students? If making a difference in the lives of students is important, then attend professional conferences, share ideas with colleagues, and read the books suggested in the Resources section on dance education, brain research, and class management. Exemplary teachers are lifelong learners who constantly reflect on their beliefs and redefine their teaching techniques as they gain new knowledge.
Sharing this knowledge, as well as a love of dance with students, is enough to delight and satisfy you throughout your teaching career. The students' joy will live long beyond that.