Lately I have been thinking about the difference between facilitating a class and teaching a class. I believe that I can have a more lasting impact as an educator if I can learn how to present class in a way that shifts the power into the hands of my students. I want students who feel empowered in their role as a learner as it is my hope that my students will continue to pursue learning and education once they leave my classroom. I am trying to find ways to facilitate their process and help them identify how to approach the material and delve deeper on their own.
In the past, I have taught a movement phrase describing it with set vocabulary, action words, directions, pathways, and tempo. Then, the students would perform the movement. Afterwards, I would share thoughts on what I noticed and address movement that needed extra attention. The students would then theoretically apply that information as they repeated the movement another time.
The past few weeks I have attempted a new approach. I have started by teaching the movement phrase and describing the mechanics and offering different verbal cues just as I have in the past. However, now, after the students have had the opportunity to try the movement, I open the floor up to the class. I ask the dancers to share any thoughts or observations about the movement. This can be questions, statements, or opinions. Instead of sharing what I have noticed, the students are directing the conversation and addressing the learning process themselves. I still contribute to the conversation, but now every student has the opportunity to act as the role of the teacher. I have noticed that this has encouraged curiosity and deeper investigations in each of my students, as well as an eagerness to share their perspective with their classmates.
This also helps the students articulate what they are feeling in their bodies- bridging the body-mind gap. It gives them practice talking about dance, and discovering the language they use. I have learned so much about how my students see movement, what aspects they concentrate on, and what they are thinking when they are dancing. It has given me a window into their thought process, which in return helps me prepare my upcoming classes. I think it also emphasizes that I don't hold all the answers- that movement is a process of trial and error, and finding how to make connections in your body. Since the students know to expect this process, I also feel that they are more invested in what we are doing, knowing that they are responsible for continuing the learning process.
Another way I have been trying to shift the power in the classroom is by allowing the students to make choices in the class. I ask the students questions about the sequencing of class. For example:
Those are two examples of how I am trying to shift the dynamics of my classes with my college students. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on facilitating classes? How do you include your students in the class process?
This is a blog of processes. Through the sharing of media and writing I am following my impulses, teasing out and unpacking, translating, solidifying, and making concrete my investigations into something that can be shared.