Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Overcoming issues of procrastination

One of the areas I realise I need to develop is more of a sense of urgency.  How does one push themselves through uncomfortable thoughts of - I should do this, get this done, read this, or analyse that without feeling so overwhelmed by it all.  I actually have more time than those in more full time work, I plan to study, analyse or read only to go and do something else in the middle of it and not get back to it - e.g., my office has never looked so organized!  Its the feeling in the back of my mind that I still don't really grasp what I'm looking at in my research - or is that what I should be writing about - the process of not understanding and then hopefully the light will come on at some point.

I have a goal to finish all my writing over the next four weeks having already done the research and data collecting last term; at least that's my 'plan'.  Anyone else go through this? I was working at the time the January presentations were available on skype link and would have loved to have seen that process. I feel that I am preparing for something that seems a bit of a mystery to me - will my process of research be worthy?  I think it's time to contact my tutor - hoping for more clarity as soon as possible.  I have taken distance learning courses and a degree for over 10 years and yet I at the moment need to have some structure to what I'm doing now so that it doesn't remain a dark room I keep stumbling through! I suppose I just have to get on and do this - no one else can do it for me!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Data collection

I am in the process of transcribing some of the video data I have.  Of course it is explained in many of the books I read on collecting data that this is a long process.  I was very worried that with my change of amount of students for the group I was studying that I wouldn't have enough data.  It was through reading the chapter on 'Writing about Data' (Holliday 2008 - Doing and Writing Qualitative Data) that I realise your data is what you make of it.  Now after spending a few hours just transcribing 30 mins of one of my videos its exciting to see the 'themes' emerging and that what I felt initially as being a random and not very organized study is starting to make sense.  Through the 'thick descriptions' of seemingly insignificant behaviours and words  I realise as a teacher I don't often really 'see' what is going on with my students other than what they doing as regards to dance steps.   Still I feel a bit behind now having underestimated the amount of data I do have and hope I get through it all in time.  Starting to feel a bit more confident that I can in fact analyse data.  Thanks Adrian Holliday!  Anyone else working with video data?   

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Into the beginning of module 3- many starts!

I liked seeing Adesola's post regarding many starts.  That gave me some hope as this is how I feel my module 3 is going.  

I have started to realising my lack of organisation is a problem.  Taking onboard looking more into Somatics to aid in my inquiry has opened up a huge area where now I feel inundated and overwhelmed with too much information.  I have realised too that many of the suggestions and ideas are geared towards older students, that some of my students need to have experienced a feeling or imagery they are given in order to benefit from it.  I am also dealing with a lot of chatting and playing around as I get through my idea of the day, so not very productive sometimes.

However, using observation and quick journal notes during class has led me to notice that one or two students are ‘getting it’.  I am seeing these students start to put together sequences of steps a bit quicker.  I am not sure if that’s down to me taking more time with each exercise and not trying to teach the whole syllabus by the end of term. 

I didn’t take into consideration making time to set up the video at the beginning of the class – I was going to video three sessions and have so far managed half of one.  Students have been coming and going – a broken arm, holidays etc, so I had to get on with it yesterday and just do some videoing – before teaching a task with my somatic ideas and after.  I again feel that I’m not going to have an answer at the end of my inquiry but it will be the beginning of a much longer one.

For me, teaching with some somatic principles has been very interesting but frustrating too as I am expected to enter these students for exams in the Spring and we are not on track as it stands for us to do this, so occasionally I resort to my command style teaching in order to get steps learnt as quickly as possible.   Interestingly one student commented on this the other day and asked if I could instead 'make it more fun' by using pictures, describing words and video.  They also love working in pairs with one as the watcher and one as the doer. Unfortunately time goes by so fast that I've only tackled 2 of about 5 things I wanted to. Perhaps I'm expecting too much!  My go to book at the moment which seems to help the most with teaching classical ballet to the pre-teen age is Dance and Somatics (Brodie & Lobel 2012).  It has many useful chapters which help to give me ideas as to where to look for information next.  Here again I have to get more disciplined and write, write, write or try and record as I have about 4 books I am writing in and I just grab whichever one is to hand - as a result I have loose papers all gathered in one file in random order; the sort of disorganisation which one my find oneself at tax time when sorting receipts. 

If anyone has come across teaching somatically with children specifically I would love to take a look at that information.  I am hoping my inquiry starts to gel more and start to make sense!  

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Ideas for module 2

I hadn't read the module handbook when I came up with the idea of looking into the use of imagery as a teaching tool for ballet students.  I teach a wide variety of ages from 5 to 18 and started trying out imagery ideas which would be appropriate for the developmental stage for each age group as of course you have to tailor your verbal imagery for example depending on their own stage of understanding and experience.  Then I read the handbook and saw imagery and teaching was an example of potential research study.  Would it seem then that I'm copying that? So not sure whether to do something else.

From the idea of tailoring teaching for understanding to the different ages I teach  I also thought of the topic of teaching ballet to incorporate differing learning styles.  Having had two (now grown up!) children who occasionally struggled in school due to their learning style which was primarily visual/tactile I thought this would be a good area to study.  However this could be a huge topic so I would narrow my focus to the group of students I teach most frequently which is the age 7-11 age group.  Still deciding how I would go about this, perhaps using questionnaires to help determine each child's primary learning style? since we overlap our learning styles there is usually one or two ways which seem to dominate.  Then perhaps a questionnaire towards the end of the session of classes to see how they felt/responded.

Any thoughts on those two ideas would be greatly appreciated! 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Reflecting on my teaching practice

Having taught Classical Ballet to several hundred children over the years I realise I have to stay up to date with  my teaching methods.  Not just for the students sake - (anyone else noticed a change in child behaviour in the last twenty years?!) but for my own.  When doing any job or activity for an extended time one has to be careful of falling into constant patterns of sameness.  In this way the job you started because you loved it becomes a pair of old worn slippers - very familiar - putting them on the same way every day until one day you can't bear to wear them again because you find them boring.

I married a pilot 24 years ago and was so thankful for my teaching career, I have been able to teach in several cities in Canada, Austria and now Dubai - wherever there are children there is work!  However, save for the odd course and challenging myself finally academically by completing a BA by long distance I have to say that the thought of preparing students again for more ballet exams and recitals no longer excites me!  I have a portfolio of work this year that includes teaching ballet in three locations across Dubai, working as a mentor for new ballet teachers (this I really love doing!) and writing course work for a new performing arts college here.  I think its moving away from just preparing students for exams and recitals to developing my work outside of the dance classroom that has started to re-energize me.  I'm not sure where this Master's will take me - as a teacher in private dance studios I am already earning the highest hourly wage I can (I think), so it won't help me in that regard.  I would love to work in a university and will eventually go back to Canada but without any experience teaching students in that environment doubt very much that I will be a suitable candidate.

I suppose then I like the idea that this Master's will get me to reflect on my journey from dancer ( a very short 2 years due to injury), then teacher and help me to see value in what I have done.  I do have questions to explore : for example, why are students having trouble memorizing the steps for Grade 4 ballet: how can I improve my teaching to enable that?  is one.

Friday, 26 September 2014

First year and first module of the MAPP

Just trying to figure out this blogging thing, having never done one before.  Really looking forward to being part of the research dance community.  Having taught ballet for nearly 30 years and finishing my BA(Hons) in dance education, I decided to continue with my Masters to further explore aspects of my teaching practice that I felt I needed to know more about.