Dance education is a powerful tool for students to learn about their sense of self, their beliefs and values, their artistry and creativity, and the social and cultural communities they are part of. My dance classroom prioritizes self-exploration, expression, and discovery through movement. It is important for students of all cultures and abilities to be given the opportunity to study dance, kinesthetically, creatively, and culturally. My dance classroom provides the academic space to explore a subject that encourages consistent self-reflection and self-acknowledgement.
These goals materialize in my classroom both through curriculum and my teaching style. As a constructivist educator, my teaching practice focuses on learner-centered curriculum and provides students the opportunity to experience, form, and reflect on their understanding of course material and their perspective on the world around them. By prioritizing 21st century skills, my students learn how to effectively use critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and leadership skills through art and dance-- as well as how these skills can transcend the classroom. Students in my classroom consistently choreograph using inspiration from their own interests and experiences, supported by the use of established choreographic tools. My lessons and teaching practice are supported by the four cornerstones of dance education: creating, performing, responding, and connecting that engages the body and mind. These cornerstones underline my goal of cultivating invested learners who use dance to further understand themselves and their place within their community. I believe that the dance classroom can act as a microcosm to learn and practice vulnerability, understanding, advocacy, and the power of community. As an educator, I will learn and grow with my students, facilitating the classroom environment as I model the level of receptivity that is needed for growth. Meeting each other where we are, celebrating individuality, and holding each other accountable for our role in our classroom are universal qualities I hope to impart through dance to be carried into the students’ lives outside of the classroom.
Throughout the Master of Education program at Rutgers University, I have been tasked with examining my own experiences with education and the many teachers I’ve had. This reflection has pushed me to understand what I value as an educator as well as what my students will leave my classroom with. Social justice has had a prominent role in my life, and I plan to bring this agency to my students. My teaching prioritizes brave conversations and sensitive listening based on the idea that we do not all enter the classroom with the same experiences and attitudes toward learning. I hope to inspire my students to consider their multiple identities, their experiences, and the information they are given. The medium of dance has allowed me to begin this exploration and examine the self. Dance, and its ability to connect the mind and body as well as its demand for self-reflection, is the tool I choose to bring to my students. Students will leave my classroom with skills that include the physicality of dance as well as the personal and individual exploration through the physical.