All posts tagged: Education

bad dance students

All This to Avoid the “F” Word

I like to think I’m a good teacher.  I’m encouraging.  I’m patient—at least most of the time.  I lead by example and I challenge my students to think on their own.  But every once in a while, I’ll find myself standing in the studio lecturing my students and wondering “what the f*ck am I saying right now?” Last Saturday was one of those times. I was at the studio with 16 of my students for the first rehearsal of this year’s production number.  (Technically it’s a “Large Group Routine” and not an official “Production” because the latter requires at least 20 kids and I’m such a stickler about technique that I only selected 16 students at this year’s auditions but “Large Group Routine” is just such a mouthful, don’t you think?) At any rate, we were plowing through the choreography: the intro, the first chorus, the horn solo; even the stop time section.  The girls were focused.  I only had to yell twice and by the end of the three-hour rehearsal, I was feeling pretty …

There’s No Painting in Dance Class!

I find myself giving a lot of pep talks these days.  Whether it’s telling my high school students to stop obsessing over another dance team’s costumes/props/anorexic talent and start focusing instead on their own performance, reminding my middle school kids to breathe when they’re hurrying out of one costume and into the next, or telling my first graders to “get their wiggles out” so they can focus, I’m pretty much in perpetual encouragement mode this time of year. Which is why I can’t believe it when the following little scenario played out in one of my creative movement classes earlier this week. The School’s year-end concert is just around the corner, which means I’m responsible for putting together a “demonstration of tasks and gross motor skills” for each of my two classes and a “finale dance” for those beach balls who will be moving on to Kindergarten next year. Of course not all of the graduates are in the same class—that would be too easy—so this week we’ve been shuffling the schedule around to allow …

A Rock Obama

Because I get a kick out of trying to turn my preschoolers into “global citizens” at the tender age of three, we have a world map posted in the dance studio and every once in a while, I’ll trade Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes for a little civics lesson. “Where do we live?” I asked a few months ago. “Earth!” one of my particularly astute three year olds shouted. I’d been going for “Philadelphia,” or perhaps the “United State of America,” but I had to concede that she was in fact correct. “Very good,” I replied.  “We do live on earth.  But can anyone tell me what country we live in?” “A-rock Obama!” was their unanimous response. “Good guess!  But Barack Obama is the president of our country.  Can anyone tell me the name of our country?” After several well-intended but incorrect responses (Philadelphia, North Philly and “the ocean”), I finally cupped my hand to my ear, thereby signaling a temporary suspension of our usual “raise your hand” rule, and prompted “The United States of…???” …

Those Straight Talkin’ Beach Balls

I have a bit of a problem.  Actually, it’s more than a bit of a problem—it’s kind of a big problem, and it’s caused more than a few ruptures in my past relationships, but I’m working on it, and thanks to my work as a teaching artist at a state-of-the-art early childhood program, I’m learning from the best. My problem, you see, is that I have a hard time speaking up when something’s bothering me (like the whole beach pass vs. summer in Europe thing). Fortunately, my three year olds do not. Last month, a particularly tiny beach ball came running up to me, tugged on my sleeve and pointed to his face. “Hey Lady,” he announced (he still has trouble remembering my name).  “My eyes are crying!” Two seconds later, he was back bouncing along with his friends so I’m not sure exactly what his eyes were crying about but obviously he felt better after unburdening himself. A few days later, one of my four year olds turned to me and said, without prompting …

Bouncing Off the Walls

Three year olds are like beach balls.  They’re round and bright and colorful and when you release them into a hallway, they basically just roll around and until they bump into the walls.  I know this because during my second day back at The School (aka, the morning after The Show), my boss came down the hall with five such beach balls and asked if I’d take them to the bathroom. Technically speaking, the teaching artists aren’t supposed to chaperone bathroom breaks, but everyone once in a while the classroom teachers have their hands full so it falls to my boss or to one of my co-workers from the arts classrooms. I can handle two or three kids in the bathroom at the same time but I’d never supervised five three year olds simultaneously.  They came tumbling down the hall with my boss, who prompted deposited them into my care, and proceeded to roll right on past the bathrooms. “Come back this way, friends,” I instructed them, so they turned around, crashed into each other …

Who Knew a Hula Hoop Could Get You Fired?

Well folks, I still haven’t heard from Date #7 (and seeing as we’re supposed to be meeting for the first time on Friday afternoon and spending the entire weekend together, this is kind of a big deal).  Under ordinary circumstances, I’d be tempted to smash my cell phone against the wall and swear off men all together but I’ve got bigger fish to fry. It all began around noon yesterday.  I was at The School (where I teach creative movement five mornings a week) carrying props from the dance studio down to the auditorium to get ready for our end-of-the-year concert when my boss calls me over to her desk. Now I should pause briefly to explain that there are in fact two schools under my boss’s jurisdiction.  She rarely visits our branch, as it’s the smaller of the two, but every once in a while she’ll stop by to make sure we haven’t descended into total anarchy. I should also explain that the creative movement teacher at the other branch has been there since …

Boys Are Dumb (and so am I…)

He said he’d call.  Rather, I asked him to call and he said he would.  Over the weekend. Well folks, the weekend is over and I still have no idea when Date #7 plans to arrive on Friday, how long he plans to stay or if he’ll even show up. Under ordinary circumstances, I might be able to tolerate his laissez faire approach to romantic entanglements (ordinarily, for example, I like the fact that he’s not a manic Type-A personality) but I’ve got another photo shoot this week, two production meetings and—oh yeah—The School’s entire End of the Year Concert to contend with and I have to re-choreograph all of the entrances and exits because the grand piano that was supposed to be moved off of the stage is being tuned so it’s got to stay put. (“Don’t panic,” the music teacher said when she called me last week to break the news, “but we’re going to have to re-think a few things…”) I also need to create 30 pairs of ribbon sticks in the …

Seriously, Why Me?

Note to self: do not wear hoop earrings while attempting to teach preschoolers how to jump rope.  I nearly lost an earlobe yesterday—several times, actually—and our poor tropical bird mobile looks even worse than it did when I first found it tangled and forgotten about and shoved under a box several weeks ago. Why am I teaching my preschoolers to jump rope?  Believe me: it wasn’t my idea.  I’m all about ribbons and scarves and beanbags and soft things that do not have the capacity to turn into lethal weapons when placed into the eager but inexperienced hands of my five year olds. But jump ropes? Jump ropes are almost as bad as basketballs.  And basketballs are almost as bad hockey sticks.  And hockey sticks—well, there’s a reason I keep them hidden. At the request of my boss, however, I’ve devised an entire week’s worth of lesson plans dedicated to the art of jumping rope.  One of the parents has organized a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser this coming Friday and although I think this …