Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching practice adjustments (or, what I'm missing this year....)

As far as those adjustments in my teaching practice, there have been a couple of big ones, neither of which I'm really particularly happy about. One is that I still have not tried requiring regular journal entries for these classes — as I wrote about earlier, the first time I supplied paper it was crumpled up and thrown all over the room, used as footballs or paper airplanes, so I just abandoned the idea for a while. The next time I tried was in October, when we were unable to use the auditorium for three days and went to the library for video observations and writing instead. Some of the students did fabulous, insightful work (reminding me why I really miss reading those regular journal entries); but so many tore up the paper and left it (again) in a mess all over the room… That. coupled with the extremely short time I have to get anything done in my classes (about 25 minutes after dressing, hiking across campus from the locker room to the auditorium, then reversing the process at the end of class), has kept me from being too eager to pull out the writing paper again… leaving a big hole in my teaching, at least for the time being.

The other major adjustment has been in the "perform" part of the Create-Perform-Respond cycle. From the very beginning all of the kids were absolutely horrified at the thought of showing their work to their classmates. On the last couple of creative work / composition units, during the two days of exploring the elements, I did manage to get the 6th graders to show their individual phrases, one-half the class at a time — but that was as far as they were willing to go. When we got into the group compositions, I once again began hearing "we're not going to have to show this to anyone else, are we???" The only way I have been able to convince all groups to even finish their projects is by promising that the only person who will see their completed work is me (and my video camera, for assessment purposes). My compromise has been to come around with the camera and record them during general practice time, right where they're practicing, while everyone else is also practicing and therefore presumably not watching — no showings, so no responding either. Of course, this neatly chops off a huge part of the experience of dance — a performing art form, after all — but so far it has been the only way to get the kids to let me see their compositions at all! I keep hoping that as we go along they'll develop the confidence to begin showing — maybe in the spring semester, we'll see…

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