Dancers stated in their questionnaires that the thing that supported them most was praise. So this Journal entry focuses on motivating and goal setting with praise.
SETTING GOALS AND MOTIVATING DANCERS
I believe that effective dance teaching and learning depends on students feeling motivated and enjoying learning. I plan lessons to meet all learning styles and use props to inspire movement and use various teaching strategies and styles. However, I feel these are not the only factors driving motivation. I find that the most motivated students in my class are those who can see their progression and are encouraged by their success. I notice that setting achievable and measurable challenges results in enhanced learning and focusing attention and greater willingness to participate in repetition.
- I provide an environment that is conducive to learning and achieving by ensuring that learners identify their progress through the feedback and praise I provide individuals and the group in class. This encourages others copy. My feedback should balance observations of areas that need improvement with supportive approval. I understand that I may have to make the same comments several times to enable student to achieve the muscle memory to correct the movement. Additionally, if dancers attempt relevé after receiving feedback, they may have a clearer understanding of centring and muscle engagement, but the armlines may not corrected. In this case, I would praise the improvement, rather than criticise the armlines. I would remember to correct this in another activity.
- I have noticed setting achievable targets for learners, for the lesson or series provides an effective and efficient teaching tool. I introduced learners in my community 8-13 years class to choreography. They were inspired at the use of prop and interpretations of their own theme. Even before students attempted the choreography they were discussing their plans. I set them a task to make another motif for next lesson. I was pleasantly surprised that students had not only produced a motif but had created an individual dance sequence in their theme to their favourite chart music. Although repetitive and without choreographic devices they had captured the essence of movement and indirectly included choreographic structure by repeating at the chorus. They had enjoyed their experience and revelled in the praise from peers as they showed off their hard work. This example proves by target setting and praising achievements learners are excited to learn and this is key to skill acquisition.
- I observed in my teaching practice that performance-oriented, competitive climates result in stifling creativity and are linked to unproductive or negative behaviours. I aim to share my enthusiasm with learners and inspire them to have confidence in their abilities. I feel it is my role to guide learning and explore new movements. By actively involving rather than directing learners they become engaged and consequently more inquisitive.
- I encourage students to identify in the plenary what went well and movements completed to provide next steps. I also encourage learners to self-evaluate to identify their skills areas and progression. I relate this to where they have been successful learners, responsible citizens, confident individuals and effective contributors. Not only does this link to the Curriculum for Excellence initiatives but it promotes the components I feel promote effective teaching and learning in dance.
- In addition to praising learners through written or verbal feedback. I also use praise certificates for accomplishments including improved behaviour, achieving a skill and working creatively.
- I also provides certificates of attendance for events, such as the Active Schools Dance Festival.
- I have found learners at all ages enjoy praise for their accomplishments and constructive comments from peers following sharing of their work and this builds a collaborative community.