Before I consider myself done teaching for the year I have a list of “to dos'” I organize my costumes, props, music and other odds and ends.
My to-do list also has three important musts that I can not fold neatly into any box or closet. These items need a little more love and care:
- Reflecting personally on my year
- Gaining input from other dance teachers
- Connecting with parents and students one last time
Here is how I clean out my figurative closet.
1. Reflecting Personally on My Year
I review the lessons I taught throughout the year. I make changes to lessons that didn’t accomplish my goals and expand further on concepts and ideas that I found successful. I meet with my teaching assistants and ask how they felt about the year, what they enjoyed and what observations they had. We talk about overcoming any obstacles we experienced including classroom management, time management and the class flow. Of course, I share with them my gratitude for the help and insights they shared with me through the year as well.
2. Gaining Input from Other Teachers
I like to meet with other teachers at the end of the year because any issues, concerns and thoughts I want to share can be lost during the hiatus. I also like to have a feeling of closure for the year. This way, come September, I am not talking about old business but am focused on the new school year. Collaborating with other teachers benefits my teaching. I like to learn from others’ experiences to gain knowledge and resources that I might not have had before.
3. Connecting with Parents and Students One Last Time
Parents are used to receiving report cards as a way to assess their children’s education in primary school.
Instead of sending a report card, I send a letter (which I call a movement assessment sheet) highlighting the elements the children learned the past year. I also write a personal note to the child about one special achievement he or she made. I feel this expresses my appreciation for the child’s participation and encourages movement involvement in the future. This movement assessment sheet also educates the parents on their children’s dance education and will hopefully promote parent- teacher interactions as well as parent involvement in the future.
An example of a movement assessment sheet:
Dance Elements We Explored This Year
- Shape – creating angles, curves and straight lines with the body
- Level – low, middle and high
- Relationship – close (personal) space, far away space
- Jump (take off and land with two feet),
- Hop (take off and land on the same foot)
- Skip (taking off on one foot and landing on the other continuously)
- Gallop (fast transfer one foot to the other foot with one foot behind the other)
- Slide ( same as glide but moving sideways instead of forward or back)
- Leap (transfer weight from one foot to the other foot air with a longer stretch and higher in the air)
- Creating own dance using various steps and levels
- Different moods and feelings can be expressed through movement
- Choosing favorite movement of the day
- Exercise is a part of overall health (like eating foods with vitamins or getting enough sleep)
- Exercise gets and keeps our bodies strong
Hi Kelly! You began the year with a desire to learn to skip. Through hard work, you can now skip across the floor from one end of the room to the other. Mom and Dad, this skill enables her to use both the right and left sides of her body equally and is the foundation for more complicated jumping patterns. Kelly, job well done. I look forward to skipping with you again next year!
Closing the closet until next year: I am ready to take a bow
After I organize all of my dance things including objects, thoughts and feelings, I feel my official dance year is over.
I know in the fall when I open my dance closet, I will be able to pull out ALL my dance resources for a successful new year.
I am ready to take a bow!
Stacey Pepper Schwartz is the Founder and Director of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs. The focus of Leaping Legs is to help people regardless of age, experience or ability, become educated about their movement potential, develop kinesthetic awareness, and become more physically fit and healthy together as a family, and community. Leaping Legs promotes its goal through its original Up Down & All Around DVD, teacher training, and school and community workshops. The Up Down & All Around DVD received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products 2009 Award and 10 Best Active Products 2009 Award. The DVD has also been featured in many magazines including Dance Teacher and Dance Retailer News. In its August 2009 issue, Dance Teacher called the DVD “an essential tool for teaching the fundamentals of movement with daily adult-child interactions.” Come visit www.leapinglegs.com to learn more about Stacey and her programs.