Friday, 25 February 2011

A philosophy of teaching

At the end of 2010 I started working towards my Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning (DDTAL for short) for Children and Young People. As a result of this, I've been observing other practitioners at work, doing lots of my own research, and reflecting on my practice (including videoing myself teaching which has been particularly difficult!). Having done this initial work it felt important to me to put together a philosophy of teaching: this will probably change over time, but the process of putting it together has encouraged me to consider the key aspects of my participation work in dance. I'll also add a fuller version of this to the green bean dance page of my website in due course.

Photo by Brian Slater; YDE Young Creatives selection weekend 2010
My philosophy of teaching

Clear communication is essential in effectively managing participation projects. Every situation is different, and every project will require a specific set of considerations, but I believe in and will always endeavour to uphold these general principles (which are given here in no particular order):

•    As a professional dance artist, I want to provide access for all individuals to take part in dance activities of all kinds.

•    I want the dance activities I facilitate to promote enjoyment of dance and to nurture the creativity of the individuals taking part.

•    I believe in empowering individuals: it is my task as a teacher/facilitator to enable participants to locate, put into practice and take confidence in their own creativity / creative decision-making, not to dictate to them how and why they should move.

•    I benefit from careful preparation for and structuring of the dance participation activities I facilitate.

•    Learning from experience and thoughtful preparation enables me to be more ready for the possibility that I might need to make ongoing changes to modify the content of a dance activity based on the particular needs of a group.

•    I believe in challenging participants and setting high standards for the work I do with a range of individuals. As an example of this, I think it is important for dance participation activities to include a range of performance opportunities (e.g. small sharings within a workshop, in-school assemblies or end of project performances in professional venues for example).

•    All the dance participation activities I facilitate will integrate opportunities for feedback, and that includes the participants feeding back on each other’s work, as well as me offering feedback where appropriate.

•    I believe it is essential to establish a good working rapport with the individuals in any dance session in order for those individuals to feel free to create their best work. I will be as honest and open as possible with the participants and encourage them to do the same. Through managing a safe, enjoyable working environment that is structured but always open to change I aspire to nurturing the participants’ respect, for each other and for me. As a result of this respect, I expect them to engage fully and to feed back thoughtfully and sensitively on what takes place in each session.

•    This management of a safe and respectful working environment also extends beyond the activity of the studio and into any spaces in which the project management of a dance opportunity may take place. Throughout any participation project, I will remain sensitive to the needs of any partner organisations, and I will take the time to communicate clearly with those partners, keeping them informed about the progress of the project.

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