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 Post subject: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2000 7:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 69
Location: BC , Canada
<P> Here is a rough draft of a document I am working on. Thought it may be a good topic to bring here and fit rather nicley with some of the recent topics.<BR>Critique and/or comment is welcome on the document its self as well as the subject matter.<P>My reason for approaching this subject is that I feel that Dance teachers<BR>do not truly look at themselves as teachers or hold themselves responsible<BR>to their students in this manner. Often we think of students as<BR>recreational and yet do not acknowledge it when the teacher is recreational<BR>(do you know what I mean?) They do not look at the aspects or<BR>responsibilities of teaching beyond the what, when, where etc. They may<BR>know what they want to teach and yet not know in any real sense How to<BR>teach themselves. I hear much about teachers wanting to take workshops and<BR>improve that aspect of their studios but I feel strongly that they should<BR>spend some time educating themselves on how to be educators.<P><BR>----------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR>------------------------------------<BR>Teaching Students to Learn<P>"Where before there was a spectator, let there now be a participant"<BR>..................Bruner<P>It begins with the Teacher:<P> How your students approach their learning will depend entirely upon the<BR>message they receive from you. Question your attitudes about teaching<BR>children the art of dance. Question your perceptions about how children<BR>learn. Dispense with all of your pre-conceived notions and begin<BR>here.....Assume all children are talented........Talent is not inborn, it<BR>is nurtured within the environment.<P>The Environment:<BR>Attitudes and Perceptions:<BR>Attitudes and perceptions are as equally evidenced within the student as<BR>they are within the teacher. It is our task to make students participants<BR>in their own education. In this we must clearly define the responsibility<BR>of the child in their own learning process. This is a rather simple lesson<BR>to communicate and it begins with setting the physical environment. <BR>Perhaps the biggest component is in the realisation that coming to the<BR>class visibly prepared (hair up & proper class wear) is the first step<BR>towards the mental preparation to learn. Their physical appearance in<BR>relation to the task before them will focus the mind to that task. The<BR>simple routine of putting their hair up and getting dressed can become a<BR>positive step in forming good habits and developing a work ethic.<P>The concept of developing a routine that prepares the mind to learn can be<BR>taken a step further into the class environment. Each teacher should work<BR>towards developing their own. For my classes I use a formal entrance, the<BR>students simply line up outside the studio door enter the class neatly and<BR>quietly, going directly to the barre. Now they are both physically and<BR>mentally prepared to learn and they are becoming participants in their own<BR>learning process, not just spectators to the teachers performance.<P>Controlling Frustration and Risk:<BR>This is another important area in which the teacher can guide the student<BR>toward self directed learning by creating a warm, respectful, caring<BR>environment, where the student feels safe to take risks. In this we must<BR>address the notion that learning is not just a cognitive skill, it involves<BR>the whole child. It is time to recognise the impact of internal pressure<BR>as well as external pressure. on the learning process. Lets begin by<BR>defining the three main dynamics existing within the dance class as they<BR>pertain to the frustration/ risk factor 1) Social interaction 2)<BR>Emotional state 3) Physical experience. Each of these dynamics play a<BR>large role and to a great degree they can influence the progress of the<BR>class either positively or detrimentally. To direct these dynamics<BR>towards their positive character we have some tools at our disposal. The<BR>first tool is our own recognition and acceptance of these dynamics, from<BR>there we can ask ourselves what tools we can give our students that will<BR>help them to create their own positive learning environment, again making<BR>them participants in their own learning. I suggest that to do this we<BR>must give the student two things 1) the opportunity to explore ; within<BR>this area we must give reassurance that error is natural and expected. <BR>Teach them to embrace their own and each others mistakes/challenges. As<BR>well to relish skill acquisition in the same way. 2) the opportunity to<BR>question; How things work, why another may have or not have a specific<BR>difficulty the questions themselves can be endless the importance to this<BR>is that they are in an environment that encourages them to think and<BR>supports their desire to learn in their own way.<P>A small word here on Learning styles. It is now widely recognised that<BR>children do not learn in the same way. Recognising and being accepting of<BR>this will greatly contribute to decreasing the frustration/risk factor in<BR>your class room. There is a great deal of material available to teachers<BR>who wish to explore this more fully. Here I will just lightly go over them.<P>Visual Learners:..Learn best through seeing<BR>-Need to see teachers body language and facial expressions<BR>-tend to think in pictures<BR>-should be placed closest to the teacher or demonstrator<P>Auditory learners:.....Learn best through listening<BR>-need verbal explanation and opportunity to talk things through<BR>-Will interpret underlying meanings through tone, pitch, speed and nuance<P>Tactile Kinesthetic learners....Learn best by doing<BR>-give a lot of opportunity to practice<BR>-learn well by physically placing them<P>Key Elements in Creating Students Who Love to Learn<BR> Perceiving that success breeds in a student the desire for more success we<BR>can then touch on some points that will help them to become successful<BR>learners.<BR>A teacher needs to:<BR>-encourage and motivate<BR>-set long term and short term goals<BR>-give students parameters in which to achieve those goals<BR>-foster enthusiasm<BR>-make the student aware of error<BR>-teach the student to correct an error<BR>-teach the student how to take a correction<BR>-set the tone for the class environment<BR>-encourage the student to become a self directed learner<BR>-continue to educate him/herself<BR>-recognise that there is more to teaching a dance class than the what,<BR>where , when and why's of movement..the key word here is teacher.<P>I am sure this list could be endless, I will leave some room for each<BR>teacher to include what is specifically important to them.....Be a<BR>participant in your own learning.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2000 3:58 pm 
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Location: Australia
thanks rabbit!<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>becoming participants in their own learning process, not just spectators to the teachers performance.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>this reminds me of the discussion elsewhere at this board about ex-performers as teachers. it is a risk, to see yourself as the centre of the action, the focus of their (the student's) attention.<P>i believe that all ex-performers, going into teaching, should be required to take a teaching course. it could be of variable duration or intensity, and it would not be my intention to try to prevent such a person teaching. <P>i can think of some ex-performers who made wonderful teachers who would almost certainly fail to (perhaps?) pay adequate attention to such teaching, or might fail any test set them on 'teaching' - but it would be good nonetheless for them to be required to listen to a few facts of life about people, and their approaches to learning....even if only some of it sank in! it would only improve their efficacy.<P>the risk when you go into teaching is to see yourself as taking the whole responsibility (which in one sense you must)...but this CAN turn into being a star performance as the wuote above suggests.....<P>i know some girls who are great learners, who talk to me about watching goggle-eyed at what one of their 'star' teachers can DO, but they aren't learning a lot, despite being avid TO learn...

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2000 8:32 pm 
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Location: BC , Canada
Quote:<BR>" it is a risk, to see yourself as the centre of the action, the focus of their (the student's) attention."<BR>-------------------------------------------------------------------<P>There is much to be said for the teacher who does their job sans Ego....not an easy task, yet an admirable goal to strive towards.<P>Now there is a quote by an author who's name will not come to mind (forgive me if I do not get it quite correct)<P>"Dance is movement through space with integrity"<P>If this statement can be held as true does it not stand to reason that the study of dance should be taught with integrity.

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2000 6:38 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Integrity is integral to the integrated whole of whatever it is we chose to do. Nothing lives without it - and to my mind, certainly not the classroom. For the teacher to approach the student with anything less is a cheat, in my opnion. Just as the dancer must present the dance with integrity, and would cheat the audience if less were offered. The audience will not boo a dancer who falls, but they will one who gives less than his/her optimum. <P>I found that the most beneficial atmosphere in the classroom was when the student knew that I was willing to learn too. To learn what that student needed, to be able to say "what I am doing is not working". In the context of that atmosphere the student was more than willing to let me try again to impart the lesson. As I had to display patience with the student's progress (or momentary lack) so too, the student granted to me the opportunity to try again. We were both willing to succeed and to fail and try again. We were patient with one another and with ourselves. <P>As soon as the teacher assumes the posture of sole guardian of learning, learning stops.<p>[This message has been edited by ORZAK (edited October 02, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:43 pm 
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Location: Australia
i did one of those pop-psychology quizs about learning styles once, and it told me that i was an 'x' type of learner - visual, i think..but words are VERY important to me - witness my love of this board, and my work as a dance writer, and as a dance notator (not words, but written documentation)....and when learning, i NEED to see things written down. i have a huge dance library and feel very attached to it....so i feel i am also a verbal learner....then too, when it comes to choreography - even of only class exercises, - i cannot possibly remember it, if i haven't danced it. this was a difficulty for me when training as a notator - because we were supposed to sit quietly in the corner, but unless i move through the movements, i retain nothing about them....<P>so i put this here to suggest, that even though some people may learn more one way than another, even this is hard to classify/quantify, and may change with the subject matter, and who knows what other factors.....<P>this of course is one of the arguments for presenting information in varied forms, and also one of the advantages of students having different teachers - who are more likely to use different approaches. a range of learning styles can be catered to by a range of teaching approaches (and by a range of teachers.....) Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2000 2:06 am 
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Location: italy
Since I've never been a dancer (I didn't like to perform in front of an audience), I've always known that what I wished most was teaching (making others happy to dance in front of an audience). This approach has been fundamental for me as it has allowed to try to do my job without my Ego interfering with.<BR>I really enjoy to transmit my knowledge and to learn from my students. I always try to be humble and receptive, without losing the control of the class (I think teachers of every subject must be strict). I love, really love, when I see my students happy to perform and when I see they really try to do things at the best of their possibilities. I teach recreational students but I've never felt my job as a minor one. I take ballet very seriously and I expect my students do the same (it happens quite naturally, if you are really involved, your students will be involved as well). <BR>I've always thought that we don't teach ballet only, we teach a way to behave and how to... live. Maybe this can sound a bit exaggerated but I'm firmly convinced that we should relate ballet to everyday life (and it's possible, isn't it?). Otherwise we risk to make ballet an arid thing, completely apart from society and so bound, sooner or later, to disappear. Of course I make a lot of mistakes, and I always try to correct them, to improve myself. I feel the burden of responsibilities (sometimes it's very heavy) but I try to cope with it. Whenever a student gives up ballet, I always ask myself why I've not been able to instil in her the love for this art and where I did wrong. Of course I know that ballet is not for everyone and not everyone can love it and I always feel very sorry for this. But I live any retirement as a personal failure.<BR>antoP.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2000 3:31 am 
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oh dear! Image you shouldn't be so hard on yourself! i couldn't live like that!<P>i do agree with you completely about relating the dance teaching to teaching for life. which relates to the title of this thread - by teaching people to learn (better...) we are assisting them to learn anything.<P>i often find that i am automatically converting a ballet technique 'lesson' or point for an individual child, into a lesson in approach to life...e.g. problem-solving, or self-analysis, for example. <P>if a student is having a technique problem and i walk up and 'correct' it, well that may be OK, but if i ask her to think about the mechanics of what she is doing, try and get her to articulate what she is doing, and why it is happening that way, and why it doesn't work - and what she can possibly do to correct it - ALL this without slowing down the class, mind you!!!!!! Image - then i have done her far more of a service, even tho' the usual student response to being expected to THINK and SPEAK as well as dance is a kind of inarticulate blank expression, at least initially.... Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2000 6:30 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
It can be very difficult when you have invested all that you have in a class as a whole, and the individual students within that class, and one of the students that you cherished decides to leave. It is natural for the good teacher to ask "What did I do wrong?" "What could I have done differently?" <P>It came to me in time that each of us, including a gifted student, has the right to say "no more". The teacher should not assume that the investment was wasted, learning and teaching are never wasted. Or, that the teacher was at fault. Dance and what was learned of it has become a part of the student's life.<P>This was brought home to me once when just such a gifted teenager decided to leave. It clouded my days and remained with me. Several years later, however, she reappeared and though she did not want to resume her studies, she brought her young daughter to begin dance class. She also told me that she had continued to attend ballet performances and could now look at them with knowledge. <P>The teacher never really knows how she will affect others - and how we affect others is one of the few choices we have. The affects are not always visible. The teacher sends out a ripple across the pond and sometimes never sees the shore that it reaches. Basheva


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2000 1:56 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Whenever a student gives up ballet, I always ask myself why I've not been able to instil in her the love for this art and where I did wrong. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>-but don't you think that this love is an instinctive 'inborn' thing - perhaps like any love? - that it is unconscious (though we may be lead by our experiences to desire certain things, or people, or whatever)....'love' is not something which can be taught, i don't think. we can teach respect for something...as orzak says about her former student acknowledging her frame of mind as a more informed audience member....but not love....?<P>i like this very much:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The teacher sends out a ripple across the pond and sometimes never sees the shore that it reaches.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching students how to learn
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2000 3:40 am 
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after that lovely quote above from basheva, i don't really want to 'spoil' it by saying anything else, but i feel there IS more to be said on rabbit's subject, as we went off on a few tangents...<P>rabbit, to your list at the bottom of your post i would add <BR>- 'a sense of humour', and<BR>- 'acknowledging ones OWN mistakes gracefully and with humour'.<P>when you said "-make the student aware of error" i immediately thought first of my OWN error/s, or of all error/s, and then from the 2 lines that followed i realised you are talking about alerting the student to THEIR error/s (which is of course part of ones responsibility). i believe we can (and should) <B>model acceptance</B> of our own imperfections, without acting as though any little imperfection or 'error' indicates we are 'bad' people, or an any way unnacceptable in the dance world (even if, inevitably, being only human, sometimes we do feel that way, ourselves! Image )...<P>all of our own behaviour serves as role modelling for our students, whether we like it or not. it's an onerous responsibility to think about....but i think the kind of responsible teachers we have in this forum presently, are people who do it without much conscious thought....

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