Thursday, December 22, 2011

Miracle on 172nd Street

Today a miracle occurred.

For weeks, I have been frustrated with my 9th and 10th grade dance classes. The kids really are good kids, but they don't have much respect for authority and think that they should be able to pick and choose what is required of them. It's been difficult to figure out how to get them excited about dance, and connect with them so that they will trust that I know what I'm doing. Basically, if it's not hip hop, they don't have much interest in doing it.

"Miss, Miss... why do we have to do this?"

"Miss, I'm tired."

"Miss, I'm sick. I can't dance today."

Mmmhmm. Sure.


A couple weeks ago, I introduced the idea of constructive criticism to my 10th grade class. I divided the class into two groups. They each had a partner to watch in the other group. I asked them to watch their partner perform and then have a dialogue with them describing positive aspects of their dancing, and what needs work using the following prompts:

One thing you do really well is...

One thing that can use more work is...  Here's a suggestion on how to make it better:...


Today's lesson plan:
  • Talk about details for the performance
  • Rehearse their dances
  • Watch a dance film for the remainder of class
I have one student who has a medical condition that keeps her from dancing, and another student who gets an attitude every time I ask her to participate. So I made them the rehearsal directors, as the class practiced for their upcoming performance.

When I was satisfied with their performance, I go to set up the projector and to my surprise I hear:

"No Miss! We can't watch a movie. We need to practice."

"Yoooo, y'all look crazy! Do you wanna get up in front of the whole school like that? Y'all need to get it together."

And without my prompting, Miss Attitude was on her feet arranging the class in lines, helping to clarify steps, telling people where to be. I left the dance studio to run an errand in the school office and when I returned I found them all working together, perfecting their steps.

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