Sunday, 26 February 2017

Where do I go from here?

Only at the beginning of my teaching career, different questions appear. What methods work best? Why do I have a feeling that some methods don’t work with my students? Why are my students not communicative? Why are they not giving me any feedback? I suddenly realised that the transition from student to teacher, in terms of getting feedback, is quite brutal. As a student, we are constantly getting feedback on how we are doing. Now, there is no one to tell me if I’m doing an okay job. At the beginning of the week, Adesola asked me on what exactly I want to be fed back on. Is it about the students’ progression? In a way, it is. But mostly it is about trying to figure out if my students are understanding and retaining what I am trying to teach. Adesola explains that this is not necessarily something that the students can tell me. She notes that teaching and learning don’t have much of a relationship and that the feedback she prefers to look for is on the learning environment she is trying to create. This is why I was advised to take a step back and see what it is that I want to create in my class?
I would love to hear from you what it is that you are trying to encourage in your class and what you want your feedback to be about!

Beginning to ask questions about the purposes of my methods (‘why’ rather than ‘how’) and searching for literature, I allowed myself to distance myself even more from my original questions.
I feel the need to distinguish between my students’ or the community’s expectations to dance and my own expectations. What is it that my students expect from a dance class? Why are they dancing? What do I expect from my class? Why do I teach dance? And finally, where is the interlink?
Once I can see this correlation, can I then determine in what way I can best respond, remaining faithful to my beliefs and approaches? Is this going to help me define what I want to create in my class and consequently about what I want to be fed back on?
Aren’t those questions turning around one major topic, namely my identity as a dance teacher and the professionalism in dance education? According to Anderson (American art educator and learning handicapped specialist the), “in order for the issue of the professional identity of the arts educator to be resolved, one must examine one’s own motives and commitments and view oneself primarily as a pedagogue who is concerned with the art of teaching a given subject.”[1] (Professional identity can be defined as “one’s professional self-concept based on attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experiences (…) (Ibarra, 1999; Schein, 1978).”[2])

It would be interesting to analyse what kind of learning situation I want to create or can create in one specific context, respecting my own beliefs and values as well as the community’s motives and prior experiences. Therefore, I would have to examine the motives of my students’ commitment and my own to dance beforehand.

The authors of the article “Dance Education: Dual or Dueling Identities”[3] quote Alice from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The response she was given concludes nicely my thoughts and guides me on how I could proceed in this module. The response is as follows: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get”. In other words, if I know where I want to get, and where the people I am working with want to get, through dance, I can choose a route. This route could be the development of my own identity as a teacher and the learning environment I want to offer. The feedback will automatically be accordingly, won’t it? 
Or did I just find out what I want the feedback to be about, namely about an environment that respects each one’s motives and commitments to dance but through my very own approach, corresponding to the identity I develop for myself as a teacher?

[1] Koff, Susan R, Mistry, Gianna Limone, (2012) “Professionalism in dance education”, Research in Dance Education, 13:1, pp. 83-97, p. 86.
[2]  Slay, Holly S, Smith, Delmonize A, (2011) “Professional identity construction: Using narrative to understand the negotiation of professional and stigmatized cultural identities“, Human Relations, 64:1, pp. 86-107, p. 86 .
[3]  Cone, Theresa Purcell, Cone, Stephen L, (2007) “Dance Education: Dual or Dueling Identities”, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 78:1, pp. 6-?, p.6.


  1. Hi,
    Great relfective thought about yourself...I am wondering on what basis did you refer to these above mentioned books?? Please tell me where are you referring books from?? I am struggling..I feel little intimidated at this point of time.. I used Summon from my learning but
    it didnt really help. Sorry, Maite I cannot give any comments..but apprecaite your progress.

    1. Hi Parimala. I'm not sure if I understand your question, but I try to give you an answer. Please tell me if it isn't what you asked for and I try again. I mainly use the access I have from my library to search for articles from different journals. So, if I want to read something about the concept of 'professional identity', I read different articles from different journals (Research in Dance Education, Journal of Dance Education...). You can do the same on myUnihub My Library - EJournals - type in 'Research in Dance Education' - click on 'Taylor & Francis Education Collection' and then you can just type in some key words and read through the articles. To find further literature then, I then look at the article's References.

  2. Hi Maité,

    I completely understand where you are coming from, you want to know the students are learning, progressing and that you are doing your job. As I put in my last blog in my experience students struggle to measure achievement and therefore progression. Also what is the measurement of progression? Improved technique, artistry/musicality, retention of material, improved speed of response in picking up new material, greater confidence - the list is endless. I think learning and progression comes in many forms and we are not careful as teachers we miss it. Personally, and again to try and measure progression, and therefore give me feedback as to whether anyone is learning, I think we need to use methods to check this but that also enhance further learning. Reference Bloom's Taxonomy and In Geoff Petty's book 'Teaching Today' (may be available as an online resource) he has excellent reference to this with practical examples (although more classroom based) that deepens understanding but also would allow you to check understanding. I also have experienced with dance that students know the answer to questions even if they are open questions and require far more thought, but can't translate to their bodies, then it is trying through repetition but also utilising different methods to promote an improved physical response. Where do you wnat to get to? I guess depends on the above and to what you are teaching? Therefore where do we want the students to get to. I don't have an end as I always want to learn more, I'm going slightly off the subject now so will leave it as that for now. I would love to hear others thoughts on this.