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Teaching Philosophy

As a dance teacher, the body is my medium for expression. Ideas and feelings begin in the body and are conveyed to others through the body. I have come to harbor a great respect for and intense curiosity about the body throughout my career. I am fascinated with the potential that lies within every human form. Every person is different and all movement is made unique through this difference. Respect for each individual is the first concept imparted to my students. When we come to acknowledge the infinite possibilities the self provides, it can be both intimidating and inviting, however it is in the struggle with these possibilities that we learn who we are and of what we are capable.

My hope is that students will find joy in the struggle of learning. When my students see me stumble and get back up, hopefully it gives them the courage to muddle through things along the way to learn from these experiences as well as the ones that go just the way we planned. I hope to convey to students that struggle can be a positive force and helpful tool. In my classroom, it is acceptable and expected that students will make mistakes and get messy in the process of learning. It is only through this process that we learn to learn. I aim to be an example to them of a person who is still learning, growing, faltering, and changing.

Learning with my students is one of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching. And while I may have authority in the classroom, I am not the authority in the classroom. There is great value in looking to fellow classmates with all their various strengths and weaknesses to make sense of the material. Learning is heightened by the presence of many points of view. When I give my students the opportunity to look at a situation through the eyes of others, they experience deeper learning as they get to see it from various vantage points. In this setting, we see that there are a variety of ways to express, experience and understand the world around us when our narrow views are expanded to include those of others. Variety is the key to understanding each other. When students are required to explore and discover on their own, they come to ways of knowing on their own terms. I want to give my students an enhanced learning experience by offering the chance to experience knowledge through others, but most importantly to find meaning in themselves.

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Self-exploration and discovery are the cornerstones of personal growth. I often look to my students and ask them to honestly gaze within and note if they are taking risks or investing in the class as fully as they are able. While I cannot force my students to learn, I can encourage them down a path and hope they take the initiative to accomplish their goals. I show my students that they are the authority in their education process. Only they truly know what they hope to learn and accomplish and it is their responsibility to pursue the right channels to get what they need. Responsibility for self and the desire to push oneself to exceed expectations are important lessons to cultivate in life.

Mine is a fluid philosophy as I am constantly learning and changing with every teaching opportunity. I am always open to new experiences and impart to my students a similar desire to seek out fresh alternatives to traditional modes of thinking and acting. I bring an approachable and easeful manner to the classroom that allows my students to feel a sense of security inside the challenges I put forth. I make every effort to be clear with my intentions and instructions and encourage my students to be articulate and educated about their ideas inside the class and out.

I also have incredibly high expectations for my students. It is my experience that by setting the bar high, students will fly over it and begin to, or continue to, push themselves in order to achieve great things. Giving students a strong base on which to stand is the best thing I can do for them. I feel that the ideas of respect, open-mindedness, risk taking and self-sufficiency I reiterate in the classroom provide this firm foundation.

Below are some articles featuring my methods and ideas related to teaching.

Classroom Conversations

Teaching Philosophy write up

Mentoring Students

Letters of Support regarding my teaching written by other faculty members:

Cornelius Carter

Lawrence Jackson

Stephanie Thibeault