We have discussed what to assess and how (see Measuring Success: Data Driven Dance), now let’s think about how that information can prepare us for a fresh look come fall.
Each year, I need to take a breather right at the close of the year but soon my thoughts turn to preparing for fall and looking ahead to the exciting things that can happen as a result of the hard work
- What happened?
- What did you teach? Why did you teach it? How did the students respond? What questions still remain?
- How did it happen?
- How did your presentation of material shift through-out the year? What worked best in engaging students and maintaining your own interest? How did the experiences range in type of activity? Efficiency? Engagement? Progress?
- Whose voices were heard? (see Acknowledging the Person Before the Dancer)
Did you strike a balance with students in sharing and exploring information, experiences, and perspectives?
When you close your eyes, whose voices can you still hear- what were the questions that were asked, answered, or redirected?
What were you really telling your students in how you handled interactions and how you modeled appropriate responses?
I tend to think of revising curriculum and practice like adding layers to an onion or artichoke rather than taking them off.
At the core are the people and the relationships we are protecting, developing, and nurturing.
Surrounding those is the content that you delivered last year or years prior, upon which the foundation has been created.
The additional layers are the refinement of that content – the resolution of questions still hanging in the air, the introduction of supporting content that delves deeper into concepts and connections, and the communication of how it relates, why it is important, and what students can do with it.
After examining the work that has just been done, and after having decided what will remain and what will be cast off, I then start to assess how to push the good to the best.
How can I make this more relevant to kids’ lives, more fun to do, more applicable to more personalities?
Can I add technology, can I further challenge their notions of dance, Art, or themselves?
Can I add something unexpected?
Can I trust them to want to measure their progress more accurately?
What do I need to make the difference?
New music? Old music?
New sources of inspiration?
More perspectives on how and why dance is evolving?
More information on building class community?
More consideration of what dancers can do with their training even outside the performance and choreography norms? (see Alternative Dance Careers)
More tools to get students thinking about dance? (see Summer Dance: Fiction with Real Insight and Heart)
Or just somewhere to set this down for a while in order to regain some peace and quiet and the strength and innovation that can come with it? (see Summer Strength Training).
More research on the emphasis of creativity in schools and higher order thinking?
Be thoughtful but be realistic. It is summer and deserves to be enjoyed. 5,6,7,8.
How will you be debriefing and revamping for the year ahead?
More useful reading:
Heather Vaughan-Southard MFA, is a choreographer, dance educator, and performer based in Michigan. She currently directs the dance program at the Everett High School Visual and Performing Arts Magnet in Lansing. With the philosophy of teaching dance as a liberal art, Ms. Vaughan-Southard collaborates with numerous arts and education organizations throughout the state. She has danced professionally in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York and has performed works by Mia Michaels, Lar Lubovitch, Donald McKayle, Billy Siegenfeld, Alexandra Beller, Debra Levasseur-Lottman, and Bob Fosse. As a choreographer, her work has been credited by the Los Angeles Times for “creating heat.” She has recently choreographed for the dance programs at Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Lansing Community College and is the former dance professor at Albion College. She is a regular guest artist and blogger for Dance in the Annex, an innovative dance community in Grand Rapids. Heather received her MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan, BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University and K-12 certification in Dance from Wayne State University. Read Heather’s posts.