Education

A Great Teacher

"I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt to heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized." -Haim Ginott


 

How is Fear Directing Your Life?

"The woman who needs to create works of art is born with a kind of psychic tension in her which drives her unmercifully to find a way to balance, to make herself whole. Every human being has this need..." -May Sarton

We always knew we loved dance and we loved creating by using dance as our choice of expression. But we were plagued by very specific thoughts (that would get stuck in heavy rotation at times).  "I wish I could dance like her. I should have worked harder. If I had taken more ballet, I would be even better." These thoughts could, often times, be paralyzing.

We needed to figure out how to push through those thoughts in order to arrive at a place where we could celebrate who we are in the world of dance and what we bring to the world of dance.

We've heard there are 4 types of fear.

Fear of Loss

Fear of Failure

Fear of Rejection

Fear of the Unknown

In order to truly recognize who you are and what you have to offer when it comes to your talent / business / expertise... you have to intimately understand these 4 types of fear and how the types apply to the relationship between you and fear {and we all have a relationship with fear; which is not necessarily a bad thing.}


 

Just Because I'm a Ballerina...

Let's get some of these ballerina stereotypes corrected.

Photo:  Katarina Sokolova


 

Dream Logistics

Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

Happy, happy June! This is the last month of working my full-time, day job... so that I can focus full-time on my dream life! {Cheers!}

It has certainly been a journey. Back in 2008, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Then in 2009, I discovered I wanted to be a teacher. Then in 2010, I wanted to be a yoga teacher. Then in 2011, I discovered I wanted to be a leader. Then in 2012, I applied for graduate school.


 

Motivating the Unmotivated

Robert J. Samuelson recently wrote in an Op/Ed piece about higher education about those who are disconnected from it. He described it perfectly:

"School bores and bothers them. Teaching them is hard, because they're not motivated. But they also make teaching the rest harder. Their disaffection and periodic disruptions drain teachers' time and energy. The climate for learning is poisoned."

His description may sound negative, but really it isn't. He hit the nail on the head, and the only way to overcome that disconnect is:  "... to motivate the unmotivated."

These are not terrible, unwanted students. They are certainly capable of learning, even if their desire remains undiscovered, even to themselves.

How do we, as teachers, motivate the unmotivated?


 

Capturing Jealousy: The Little Green Monster

The comments are made in passing...

"I wish I had her feet."

"Man, I wish I could do the splits as easily as you."

"Ugh, her turns are PERFECT. I wish I could turn like that..."

These comments come from a desire within us of wanting to be someone we aren't. We want her legs, her feet, his jumping power, their strength, this or that, over here or over there. The challenge is teaching students to recognize the little green monster before its tentacles reach every aspect of your thought processes, thus affecting every aspect of your life.

How is this done in a performance world where ballerinas have been taught for ages to execute everything the exact same way?


 

Living through Monumental Loss

As performers, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We put everything out there. We fall in love quickly with everything, because everything serves as inspiration to our gifts. We read in between the lines to try and help ourselves grow as artists. We over analyze, we listen to critiques and sometimes take them personally. We build things up in our minds, to help motivate our focus and drive, and we believe in what we do and who we are.

These are all wonderful qualities. They make us strong. They make us able to do what thousands of people will never be able to do - stand in front of thousands of people and perform.

But these qualities also make us extremely vulnerable.

As artists, our motto has always been: "You have to go there to know there." (Quote from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.) If we were expected to portray a depressed young girl, we needed to understand what that felt like. If we were to portray an overjoyed, confident go-getter, we needed to live that first, before we could convince someone that we were that.

But making yourself go there, making yourself feel everything, is not always the easiest responsibility. We have to breathe through the lows, and be careful not to get addicted or live only for the highs. It's a balancing act that takes dedication, self-awareness and patience.


 

Raising Positive Dancers

We were recently reading an article by Rhonda Talbot who tackles some tough parenting questions. As educators, our main goal is to foster progress within a strong individual. The foundation of that goal is to help establish a strong individual.

How do we, as teachers, make that happen?


 

The Demonstrator

Dance Teacher Magazine recently asked an interesting question: How do you demonstrate ideals while still making all your students feel included?

Photo by: Richard Calmes (as featured by Dance Magazine)

We immediately drifted back to our early classroom days... the days where so-and-so could do the splits before us, or so-and-so hit that double pirouette with absolute perfection. So-and-so had a natural flexibility, and so-and-so, well... she was just perfect in every way.

As young dancers, these thoughts haunted me whether the teacher pointed out their perfection or not. We didn't really need it pointed out; we could see it with our own eyes that they were the poster-child example! {bitter tone intended}

In the classroom, this created two things within us:

1. A little fire that encouraged us to strive to be better.

2. Horrible thoughts on how we could alter our bodies to be more like that (whatever that may be). Confession: We truly believed at a young age that if we broke our ankles, that it would heal and then point the way a professional ballerina points.

It wasn't until high school that we accepted our turnout, our feet and our not-so-flexible back for what it is.


 

Grit Guts Gumption, Go!

Do you know what it is to love without abandon? To keep going?

Photo: Tim Evan-Cook

There are three words that we remind ourselves of often: Grit. Guts. Gumption.

We first found these words, in that combination, when researching what creates the unmeasurable trait of "grit" within students. The answer? Being unafraid to fail, because they were taught to learn by failing.

Photo by: KidCase


 

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