Buckets Overflowing…

 

Dance is a beautiful, dynamic, and expressive art form that touches our hearts, connecting us to music and emotion on a visceral level.   To those who are swept away it is much more the ‘just dance’.  We dedicate our lives to the art form – whether performing, teaching, or creating.   It becomes a part of who we are as people.   Because of this personal connection to dance we tend to become tied our ideas and methodologies, so much so that perhaps our expectations are a bit unreachable on occasion.

We may even take ourselves a bit too seriously at times. 🙂

As [dance] educators, whether teaching preschoolers or high school students, we need to remember that not only are we molding the technique and artistry of our young dancers, we are also molding their minds via our role as educators.  The words we choose, or do not choose, directly impact students’ self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.

So does that mean that giving correction and criticism is wrong/damaging?   Short answer, No.   Constructive criticism and correction is entirely appropriate when given and taken in the right context.    It is key to ensure that correction and constructive criticism is given with a purpose.

Why do we correct?  Because we know that a particular student or group is able to do more and accomplish more within their technique.   If we didn’t see the potential, we would not push students toward more specificity, more artistry, more performance, in their work.  We want you to be the best that you can be!

A group of 5 yr old creative movement students reminded me that there is an important exchange occurring between both students (of all ages) and teachers.  It’s an important exchange that is worth paying attention to in our teaching.

Filling up the buckets.

It was a Saturday morning and the conversation with my 5 yr old class went something like this …

(Me)                “H, why are you sad today?”

(Little H)       “No one filled my bucket today!”

(The entire class of 18 )   “We have buckets too!  Our teacher says that when you do/say something nice to/for someone that you put a little happy into their bucket.”

(Me to little H)  “You know, when you put some happy into another persons bucket you are also receiving a little happy in your bucket too.”

(Little H)         “Yes!  I did do something nice for someone else today.  My bucket IS full!”

Later at the end of class…

(Me to the class)  “You all were so patient today while you were learning your recital dance.  Good job!”

And everyone in the class, as if on cue, held out their hands like little buckets to receive their compliment.   On this particular day my bucket had been feeling a bit empty, but as they left the room I felt like my bucket was suddenly over flowing.

(Cue the sunshine flowing into the room and my heart melting… )

It is crucial that we, as dance educators, ensure that we are making the time and effort to fill the buckets of all of our students, everyday.   The individual work of fine-tuning technique with confidence and the enjoyment of dance is directly connected to the joy we all feel when in the studio.  This fullness is what carries each of us (student and teacher alike) through the days/moments when maybe we aren’t so positive or are maybe struggling with the work.

How can we do this via our teaching?

  • Taking the time to acknowledge the effort students are putting into their work – whether they have accomplished  a step/task or are still working on it.
  • Taking the time to recognize and acknowledge an effort to change behavior or to make a better choice.
  • Helping a student find other ways to be a part of class when they are injured.
  • Acknowledging that what they are working on is challenging and that they are doing a good job at working through it.
  • Or maybe it’s a simple “thank you for working so hard today!” at the end of a class.

Some things to avoid.

  • Sarcasm –whether it be in jest or within a correction.   Sarcasm can be easily misconstrued and taken to heart.
  • Poking fun.
  • Making up names for students, though [probably] only done in jest this puts the students in an uncomfortable position and negatively impacts self-esteem.

The moral of the story?  How we choose our teaching words can give or take away the joy our students feel through dance. And when we give our students joy – what an amazing gift we receive in return.  The Best!

Author:  Jacqui Davidson

Dear Readers,

See?!  AD4L really is still online!  Life has been a little crazy lately and well, sometimes life takes priority over blogging.   It happens.   But don’t dismay!  A newsletter is in the works and today is a NEW POST inspired by some amazing and energetic 5 yr olds.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Have a beautiful day.

Jacqui

Accelerate Your Progress in Dance

YOU have the ability to accelerate your/your childs’ progress in dance!    Generally when students hear this they are a bit surprised– but its true, your actions and thoughts have a direct impact on your progress.  Just as selected the best foods will give you the fuel you need to get through your long day, you can fuel your progress by following a few simple steps.

 “How can I maximize the impact of my actions & thoughts on my progress?”

 

The power of positive thinking.

Your perception of yourself in dance (& life) will impact your performance whether you dance simply because you love it or because you want to pursue a career in performance, choreography, or teaching.  Keeping a positive mindset in class will foster your ability to absorb information and corrections both mentally and physically.  Receiving constructive criticism from your teachers becomes easier when you start with a positive outlook on both yourself, and your dancing.

 What can you do when you have those moments in class when you feel discouraged and negative?

    • Take a deep breath and remember why you love to dance.
    • Do something to ‘change the channel’ – get a sip of water and tell yourself “I can do this”.
    • Remind yourself that dance is a process – your teacher is challenging you because he/she believes that you can do it!

Keep a dance journal.

Taking a moment after class (or during if your teacher allows) to write down the corrections your received, how you felt about the class, and even the exercises that were taught in the class, will help you to retain the information you received.

    •  3 positives:  Simply by writing down 3 positive things that happened in class will help you to keep a positive focus.
    •  3 corrections:  Recording 3 corrections to work on will help you to keep a positive focus where you need to focus your energy during class.
    • 3 points of gratitude:   While you are at it you may as well include 3 things/moments that occurred that day which gave you joy/made you happy.   Keeping track of the things/moments you are grateful for will help you to stay focused on the positives throughout life.  Eg.  A sunny morning,  a hug from mom/dad/sibling, a good day at school.

 Be sure to keep your journal with you and read it through (2 or 3 times would be great) before the next class.  This will remind you of the positives and of where you need to focus your attention throughout your classwork.

 

Preparation will fuel your progress.

This is a simple one, but can be hard to follow through with when life gets busy.  When you journal you are in a sense preparing your mind, this particular preparation will help you prepare your physical self for dance.

    • Prepare your dance bag before you go to bed – make sure you have the appropriate gear, your shoes are ready for dance, water bottle, snacks are packed and ready.

TIP:  Set a reminder with an alert tone/sound on your phone to remind you to prepare you dance gear the evening before a day of dance!

    • You have arrived early for class – take a few minutes to warm up.  Jumping jacks, jog on the spot, jog the stairs (something active to increase your heart rate), and then do a few light stretches (not for flexibility) such as downward dog and a back stretch (cat/cow is great) to increase blood flow to the muscles.

OR

    • You have arrived late for class – just 5 minutes until class begins!   If you can, still take a couple of minutes to do some light stretches before diving into class.  Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and, while you are at it, have a quick glance  at your journal notes from last class to focus your mind on dance.

 

Parents:    How does this translate to younger students?

 

Positive thinking – Encourage your child to speak about dance in a positive manner.  Even when a child experiences challenges in dance, whether its behavior or technique, let them know that there are positive results to learning how to deal with such challenges.

 

Journaling – Maybe there is something that the teacher focuses on regularly  (eg. Posture) in class.  Ask your child to draw a picture of this and explain it to you.   Or, as you drive home from dance ask your dancer “what was one good thing that happened in dance today?”   “What was one thing you teacher wants you to work on in dance this week?”

 

Preparation – Have your dancer help prepare their dance bag the night before dance.  Lay out their dance clothes and pack their shoes.  Ensure that a water bottle has been packed, and if he/she takes more than one class in a day – pack a quick, energy snack for between classes.

NOTE:  Being on time for class makes a huge impact on a students’ focus, particularly when tardiness is consistent.

 

 

Teachers:  How do we teach this to students and parents?

As you already know, the role of a dance teacher is to educate both the students, and the parents.   On your parents’ day/open house/observation week, take the time to talk to parents about ways students and parents can impact progress in a studio setting.   If you have worked on any of this in class – let them know this as well.

Though this might take a few minutes of your class, your students will reap the rewards in the coming months (and parents will appreciate the proactive direction!).

Some suggestions to help spread the word to parents:

Create a poster and place it in an area where parents and students will see it.

Post something on your schools’ website or Facebook page.

Create a handout for parents’ day.

Author:  Jacqui Davidson

Wellness via Dance

 A year ago AD4L was launched as a mode of promoting the connection between the science behind the movement (from the studies of sport & dance science) and dance teachers, students, and parents.    To further broaden the scope of health & wellness in relationship to dance the ‘tagline’ for AD4L is being updated to the following:

“Promoting health & wellness in, and through, dance.”

 

 Why the change?

Health & Wellness is no longer solely related to nutrition and how often one works out at the gym.  With the current health trends we, as educators (classroom & studio alike), need to (must) rethink how and what we promote as physical activity.

Presenting at a recent arts in education conference health & wellness panel I concluded my presentation feeling that I hadn’t shared my views specifically on how and why dance can be a method of promoting physical activity in today’s youth.

 

(this is me, getting up on my soapbox…bear with me)

 

In this teachers view, dance is one of the most malleable, flexible teaching tools available.  We have more dance classes and performing arts programs in our schools now than ever before; Preparing performances and assemblies, we also have more of these groups participating in competitions & festivals.  More provinces also have specific dance curriculum within both arts and physical education.  Isn’t that enough?

Perhaps we are limiting ourselves, and the discipline of dance.  We tend to hold dance within the boundaries of the discipline and the starkness of the studio & space setting, ultimately excluding those with less movement experience and natural ability for dance.

Everyone can connect to dance in its most basic form and structure – space, body, effort, & relationship awareness.  The beauty of approaching dance from this perspective is that it can be applied to virtually any subject– math, history, science, english/literacy, geography, physical education, music, etc.   Most importantly – this perspective of dance is also extremely adaptable to individual needs and abilities.

The recent addition of programming to AD4L (Dance-Ability programs) is based on this notion.  Taking these concepts of movement and wrapping them around more formal dance disciplines to create a dance environment which can be molded to the needs of the individual and the group.

What I wanted to say to the educators at the arts conference (gotta love hindsight)…

Let’s step away from the notion of [the joy of] dance being held captive within the boundaries and limits of the formal dance disciplines, stark studios and spaces, and bring dance [movement] into our everyday teaching.  take a moment to explore lessons through movement and encourage students to incorporate music & movement in their presentations.   Avoid leaving the task entirely up to the music & dance teachers.  Dance (& creativity) teaches students how to take a risk, to put all of your effort, creativity, and thought into a movement/performance.   Challenging ourselves as educators to bring a movement perspective to our teaching will not only bring a new dimension of learning to students, but will also provide our youth with a new lens to view the benefits of physical activity for daily life.

 

Here are some example of how using movement  more actively in our classroom teaching can affect a child’s health and perspective on wellness.

Let’s look at the dimensions of health:

 Physical:  On a physiological level, movement = increase in endorphins (which make us feel good & gives an energy boost).  When we move we take in more oxygen (energizing our blood and therefore the brain as well).  For youngsters, often this activity reinforces and creates more opportunity to develop the crucial psychomotor skills necessary to participate in all forms of physical activity (for life!).

 Emotional:   See point regarding endorphins above… increasing our energy puts us in a more positive mindset.  Dance & movement in a less formal setting reinforces positive, healthy, respectful ways to express our emotions.   Confidence and self-worth increase when we repeat this activity.

 Spiritual:  Regardless of your belief system, when we feel better about ourselves we see our world in a more positive light.  When we make this action part of our daily lives we instill this positive perspective throughout the whole of our lives – at home and at school.

 Intellectual:  Fostering active learning through the creative arts provides problem-solving (critical thinking!) challenges for students (& teachers).    Challenging our cognitive skills and encouraging the development of critical thinking.

 Social:  Children & youth of all abilities moving together, learning together, presents a myriad of social learning opportunities.  Learning to work together as a team,  being respectful of everyone’s ideas & stories, giving each participant the opportunity to contribute to the final product – all worthwhile and important social skills.

 Occupational:   Essentially being a student (at every age) is a form of occupation.  We prepare for it and spend a large part of our day doing work that is delegated to us by our teachers.  Making it an active experience makes the process much more enjoyable, and therefore going to ‘work’ is a more pleasant and enjoyable part of our day.

Book Review: Autism Everyday

Alyson Beytien is an Autism Consultant and the mother of 3 boys who are all on the autism spectrum. In other words, she is not only an ‘expert’, but a superwoman!  An autism specialist, Ms. Beytien’s collection of essays (originally published in Autism Spectrum Quarterly magazine) give parents and teachers practical strategies for living with, and teaching, children with autism.

As with all diagnoses, those diagnosed with autism range from low to high functioning levels, and absolutely every variation in between. An informative and insightful read, Ms. Beytien broaches the subject with humour and anecdotes from her family’s daily routines and challenges.  From her son’s obsession with trains to the decision to send one of their sons away to school, she shares the emotional roller coaster that she and her husband ride daily.

A fairly quick read (thank you!), Beytien avoids unending medical jargon and includes short lists of practical strategies at the end of each chapter.   Broaching the subject from the perspective of the parent, Beytien  shares her families daily life challenges with the reader, giving us not only her professional insight but (more importantly) her insight as  parent of 3 boys living on the spectrum.

Whether you have a child diagnosed with Autism, or you work with children who live with autism, this book is essential for your personal reference library.   For this teacher, Beytien has passed on some golden strategies that I am excited to try in my classes and has given me a deeper insight into the daily challenges of families experiencing Autism alongside their children.

Author:   Jacqui Davidson

Why Dance Matters…

Have you joined the movement?   Why Dance Matters…is an exciting, brilliant movement happening on the internet.   Take a moment to check it out and share your thought and feelings on why dance matters to you.

First, how much do we love that Nichelle from Dance Advantage has taken this initiative? Brilliant!

So, here we go!

Why Dance Matters…

1.  Dance was the one thing above all else that truly spoke to me.   I finally felt that I had ‘found the words’ and was understood.

2.  When I have the rare occasion to be  a student today I find that dance guides me back into living in the moment, in tandem with the music and the movement.

3.  Dance, and teaching dance, gives me absolute joy!

4.  There is an unspeakable beauty in giving my students the tools they need to achieve in dance, and then watching them use those tools and make connections to their physical self that they had never experienced before.

5.  Living a life in dance means that you are a life long learner.  Whether than means exploring new avenues in academics, learning from new teachers, or experiencing new perspectives through performance – we are learning and absorbing constantly.

6.  Dance quickly became part of who I was as a teenager, and is has remained part of me throughout this life.  My career has blossomed in ways that I had never imagined – because of dance.

7.  Hearing my students, of all ages, express how much they love dance is the best gift I could ever receive!  Best moments, ever.

8.  Finally, Dance matters because it is a celebration of the human spirit.  Regardless of age, whether in a studio, stage, backyard, living room, club or in a classroom – it is an expression of joy and will lift us up into joy!

 

I hope that you’ll take a moment to check out the movement – on Facebook, twitter, and on the Dance Advantage Blog.

Wishing you wellness in dance, and life!

Betwixt and Between

Alessandra Ferri and Sting: Bach Prelude

[A special thank you to my students for inspiring this post. Pay attention to the ‘bits in between’ and follow your dreams. : ) ]

Learning  is two-fold, there is the information that is given to you and the connections we then make between life and the lesson.   In the summer of 2010 my students made that connection.  It was a case of the students teaching the teacher,  one of those amazing teaching moments when a deeper conversation between teacher and student [and they were teenagers!] occurs.  Love those moments!

I asked this group of pre-teen/teen students about what makes music and movement mean something to us as dancers and audience members.  What moves us/you?  They said that it is the ‘in-between’ bits in the music (click on this text for Yo Yo Ma’s interpretation) that tell us the most.   Connecting this to dance, we concluded that it is what happens between the steps which speak to us and move us.  This is where the story is relayed from dancer to audience (click on the text for Alessandra Ferri and Sting’s interpretation).    In music, if we didn’t have the notes in between the beat/pulse the music would be just a straight pulse or beat – no melody, no rhythm.  Movement is very much the same, if there was no ‘in-between’ dance would just be a bunch of steps put together sequentially with no fluidity, no emotion, no connection.  The result of both would be bland, flat, boring, in a word – mechanical.

For those readers who are not dance lovers,  I suggest that something similar happens in sport.  If athletes only execute the skills of a sport, without effort force, or passion, the sport is diminished to the mechanics of the skills alone.  There must be energy,  force, velocity,  and a [healthy] competitive spirit behind the performance of the skills in order for the event to have meaning for the observer, and certainly for the athlete to achieve any success in competition as well.   That energy and spirit is what makes up those ‘in-between’ bits of the sport, makes it exciting to participate in and to observe, and is what make us cheer when an athlete puts all of their effort into a play or event (in addition to team/country pride).

My belief is that art [in all its forms] and sport help us appreciate the ‘in-between’ bits of life.  When we watch a dance performance we tend to appreciate more fully those performances where the dancers have found a way to express the moments in between the steps and/or the motions of the characters.  Somehow they have found a way to internalize the movement and the story to then relay it back to us through their form and their dance.  At its very best it touches us, even those who do not feel that they understand the music or the dance.   In sport, the emotion behind the force and energy is raw, true to life and tangible.  We see the raw emotion given to a race or event and when the athletes take the podium, or watches competitors take the podium.   The [sport] athlete learns to use and manage the ‘in-between’ bits throughout training and in performance, becoming conscious of emotions  felt and learning how to manage or use those emotions in performance situations.   Both similar situations – one translates the ‘in-betweens’ and one manages/uses the ‘in-betweens’.

The ‘in-between’ bits of life [the yummy and the painful alike] which make life interesting, giving us something to obsess over (a little obsession is healthy!), to relish, and in the end what makes us who we are.   Learning to translate, manage and use those moments is what makes life meaningful and leads us towards our purpose in this life.

Author:  Jacqui Davidson  [Please note that this is a re-post from my first blog, Something to Learn.]

 

 

Giving Your Knees the Lovin’ They Deserve

The Knee Joint – Simple Yet Complex

On the surface, the knee joint seems to be a simple “hinge” bending back and forth.  However, if you take the time to look more closely at this joint, you will discover a much more complex mechanism.

The knee is made up of 3 compartments, a medial (inner) compartment, a lateral (outer) compartment and an anterior (front) compartment.  This anterior compartment is another joint called the patello-femoral joint (knee cap).  The bones that form this joint are the femur above, tibia below and the patella (knee cap) in front.

The knee joint has very little boney stability and relies a great deal on the ligaments, cartilage and muscles to provide the stability of this joint.  Movement is produced by 2 key muscle groups, the Quadriceps (front of thigh), which extend the knee and the Hamstrings (at the back of the thigh) that bends the knee.  The superficial calf muscle (Gastrocnemius) also crosses the back of the knee joint and is involved in bending the knee at times.

The cartilage or menisci are half moon-shaped structures which sit on top of the tibia in the medial and lateral compartments.  They serve as shock absorbers and also deepen the joint to provide more stability and keep the femur from sliding off the tibia.  2 key ligaments inside the joint are the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments.  The anterior cruciate ligament keeps the knee from hyperextending and from rotating too much internally while the posterior cruciate essentially does the opposite.  Two ligaments exist outside the joint and are called the collateral ligaments.  There is a medial (inner) collateral which prevents your tibia from bending sideways laterally and the lateral (outer) collateral which prevents your tibia from bending sideways medially. The collateral ligaments are more commonly injured than the cruciate ligaments.

The patello-femoral joint acts as a pulley system for your Quadriceps muscle.  The patella is imbedded in the Quadriceps tendon and attached to the tibia below through the patellar tendon.  This gives your Quadriceps a better mechanical advantage to work with your knee as it bends.  It is also important for the inner and outer fibers of your Quadriceps to work in balance to keep the patella tracking properly.  Patello-femoral joint irritation and pain is common when this imbalance exists.  Your Quadriceps also performs an important role in jumping by contracting concentrically while it aids in softening landings by contracting eccentrically.

The Hamstring muscles (of which there are three two inner and one outer) bend or flex the knee joint and help extend the hip along with the gluteal muscles.  They also act as a “dynamic” anterior cruciate ligament and help to keep the tibia from sliding forward off of the femur.

These are the key structures of the knee joint that must work together to allow for normal operation of the joint under the large loads and stresses we put the joint through daily with all our activities.  Dancing, of course, places huge demands on this joint and with the use of good technique and proper training in and out of the studio we can keep the joint healthy and lower the risk of injury.

 

How can I apply this to my teaching/dancing?

ALIGNMENT IS KEY!   

  • Remember the aligning our dots exercise?   Postural and pelvic alignment has a direct effect on knee alignment – start from the feet and work your way up when assessing knee alignment.

Invest time in teaching proper alignment

  • When working in ‘turned out’ or parallel positions, ensure that the knees are moving in alignment with the feet and hips.  For some this will be a challenge, but its a worthwhile investment of your time.  The investment will pay off tenfold when you see that your students are able to self-correct.

It IS about efficient and effective movement.

  • Teach students to work within their own physical ability.   Students are not built from a cookie cutter method (all physiques the same).  Take the time to look at students’ physique and guide them to work within their own unique physique (encourage individuality!).   This will optimize the efficiency of their movement, training more effective and efficient movement patterns over time.

Talk about the anatomy of movement with your teen and adult students.    

  • First, it is important that they have an understanding of why it is important to work within their own physique.  Second, experience indicates that this gives them a deeper understanding and awareness of their bodies, which then translates into a more thoughtful work ethic in studio.

Be willing to adapt.

  • No dance form or teaching method is perfect for every – body.   Find ways to adapt tried and true methods to suit the bodies that you are teaching.

It is not about today.

  • All of this awareness and prevention is less about preventing an injury today or tomorrow, and more about preventing injury over time.   Whether dancing, walking, or running indoors/outdoors, improper alignment of the knees causes friction and wear in places where it is not meant to occur.  In the long-term this can translate into worn out cartilage, meniscus damage, ligament damage, and chronic knee pain.

Remember that “An ounce of prevention = a pound of cure”.

Authors:   Sam Steinfeld, Kevin Dyck & Janine Didyk, RWB Physiotherapy Team (article) and Jacqui Davidson, Founder AD4L (teaching considerations)

 

Prevention and ‘cure’ for mental burnout…

Mental fatigue (aka. burnout, being in a funk, feeling drained/mentally exhausted) affects all ages.  Multitasking is commonplace in our daily lives, creating situations in which we rarely give our full attention to one activity/individual, and even less often focus on our own needs.   Over time mental fatigue can affect the immune system, our ability to problem solve and concentrate,  our mood and coordination, and ultimately, our quality of life.    Mental fatigue can be a symptom of a larger issue (stress) and can cause issues in the long-term if ignored.

As lover of lists I thought I’d post a short list of straightforward ideas for recharging your batteries, boosting your energy and creativity!

  • Teachers – Take time to BE the student.
    • Find a class that you can take for yourself, try Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Jazz, Tap, Ballet – anything that  feeds your need to move.  I suggest purchasing a to class card for yoga or pilates so you can attend as often as you like (need).
  • Students –  Give yourself a break!
    • Take a break from the homework and studying, go for a walk outside, or crank up some tunes (with or without earbuds) and have a dance party in your room – by yourself or with some friends.  Take an afternoon off and go to a movie with a friend or family member.
  • Parents STOP. You also deserve a break.
    • Find yourself spending a lot of time waiting for your dancer to finish their classes for the day (after your own busy workday)?   Claim that waiting time for yourself and go for a walk, or bring something to do that is just for you – maybe knitting/crocheting, reading, a movie, listen to some music.  Or better yet, talk with other parents from your students’ class – take a coffee break together!

Claim your Peace this holiday season: When you wakeup in the morning take 10-15 minutes for yourself before you do anything else.  Sit in the silence of your home.  No technology, just silence. Do whatever you need in that moment:  Sit quietly, watch the sunrise, meditate, breathe, do yoga, etc.  And when you are ready to begin the day, make a mental list of what your priorities are for the day (as opposed to a list of everything that must be done).    This can be a great way to begin the day with a sense of calm, cultivating focus inward and on the people/things that are important to you.

 

New inspirations can also be a great way to recharge. Since beginning AD4L I have discovered some great blogs and articles  that have sparked my creativity as we move into the winter months.    Here are a few…

 

A Dancers Brain (great dance quotes)

Educating Dancers

A great article on the longevity of Sylvie Guillem.

And for some non-dance inspirations on living simply – Zen Habits.

And a little video inspiration…

How do YOU recharge? Drop us a line in the comment section and share your tips for recharging for yourself and your students/children.

Book Review: Alphabet Kids

Robbie Woliver’s (2009) Alphabet Kids:  From ADD to Zellweger Syndrome, A Guide to Developmental, Neurobiological and Psychological Disorders for Parents and Professionals   is a practical guide to the many disorders and syndromes diagnosed in children today.  Alphabet Kids walks us through multiple  syndromes and disorders (from A t0 Z), providing  us with situational examples and lists of common signs and symptoms.  Offering several  perspectives of supporting  research,  each disorder/syndrome is its own chapter beginning with terms used in the chapter, symptoms, causes, general diagnosis and treatment, and finally general prognosis.   References are included at the end of each chapter, providing the reader with a starting point for personal research.

With one in six children often being diagnosed with multiple, interconnected neurobiological, developmental, and genetic illnesses, dance teachers are wise to seek out knowledge regarding these syndromes and disorders.   This resource provides practical and useful information with which to facilitate communication between teacher and parent, encouraging a deeper understanding of behavior, to foster best teaching practices and cues.   As dance teachers our role is to understand any diagnosed conditions/syndromes of our students and to work with parents to find best ways to ensure success for the student.  Having a text such as Alphabet Kids in your library provides detailed information, written for the non-medical community (the layperson), and a place to begin your education with these syndromes and conditions.

 Author:  Jacqui Davidson

 

 

 

Empowering Progress

 

 

Now that we are all fully into our new schedules for the year, getting used to new classes, students, and teachers,  its time to think about those goals again.  Goal setting can be an effective tool for building habits of excellence in our dance training and teaching, instilling positive habits which will foster the achievement of our goals and ultimate success in dance, and life!

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.  (Aristotle)

In our last newsletter Aman discussed the importance of goal setting and the differences between short term and long term goals.     He discussed several different types of goals including:

  • Dream Goals
  • Realistic Goals
  • Goals of Self-Acceptance
  • State-of- Mind Goals
  • Focus Goals
  • Daily Goals

Each of these are functional and can be incorporated into your/your childs training, and your teaching.   There are some general guidelines to follow when goal setting, you may have heard of them before – SMART goals.

S is for Specific

  • Be specific and clear about what you want to accomplish.

M is for Measurable

  • Form your goals in measurable ways, this will help to give you an objective perception of whether or not you have accomplished your goal.

A is for Action Oriented

  • What actions are required of you to achieve this goal?   What can you do to work towards your goal?  Do you need to enlist the help of  a friend/parent/teacher?

R is for Realistic

  • Set goals that are realistic for you, at this point in time in your training and life.  If its too easy – you may not have the motivation to reach it as you will achieve the goal to quickly.  If its too hard – you may lose confidence in your abilities as it will take longer and require more effort to achieve the goal.

T is for Timely

  • Set a specific timeline for the goal to be accomplished.   You may feel that some goals need to be accomplished in 1 or 2 months, and some perhaps 6 or 9 months.
  • Short term goals are helpful as they can keep you motivated AND be the stepping stones to achieving your long term goals.

 

Students and Parents:

Working together to form a set of goals for the dance season can be a great way to guide your dance student through the dance year, as well as a way to touch base with them regarding how they see their role within the dance community.  Perhaps this year they are focused on a specific exam or performance, or maybe their focus has changed to the pursuit of a career in dance.   We encourage you to take an active role in your child’s goal setting process and achievement in dance.

Teachers:

Goal setting in the studio can be a useful tool for both you and your students.  Goals can be written down and reviewed from time to time throughout the year providing students with a more tangible way to assess their progress. Students can often have an all or nothing attitude about goals,  with your guidance students can come to understand that striving for goals is a process – just like developing our strength, flexibility, and technique.  Process takes time, and patience.

If Aristotle was correct in declaring excellence as a habit, then exploring the process of goal setting with your child/your students is a positive step towards building (training)  positive habits which empower the student dancer to take an active role in their progress in the studio, on the stage, and in life.

Now its your turn…

Students: Do you set goals for yourself during the dance season?  For school?  What has worked for you?

Teachers: Do you set goals with your students?  For yourself?  What has worked for you?

 

Author:  Jacqui Davidson

Note:  This post has been entered in the Dance Advantage Circle Time!