What are barriers to educational equity and what is my role in alleviating them?
What is school for and, who decides?
Constantly examining these questions, I have developed a teaching practice that is primarily concerned with developing creative and intellectual independence in all students. I believe the arts play an essential role in the cultivation of young minds. Whether we are dancing, writing, painting or drawing, my classes emphasize critical thinking and problem solving in order to prepare students to be thoughtful citizens and bold change makers. School should be a place where students learn to read the world and learn to think critically. School is a place to develop strategies, competencies and languages that are critical for operating autonomously in the world. All students should be afforded learning opportunities that allow them to construct meaning. All rules, contracts and agreements are based in a sincere mutual respect between teacher and student.
My teaching is about creating time and space for students to learn from their own questions and explore their own imaginations. I believe children must be surrounded by books, words, lyrics, poems and stories in order to understand the power of the written word. I believe children must build and create daily in order to better know and express their own imagination. I want all students to feel proud of the work they make. I have developed many classroom management tools to provide for calm and focused environments in which students can explore creative projects across disciplines.
When I think of writing, speaking and literacy skills I teach, I think about freedom. About how the pen is mightier than the sword and how a good education can provide one with social mobility and intellectual autonomy. Teaching is about information sharing. Teaching is about discussing the landscape of history and politics and clarifying our responsibilities in, and how to speak from, that context. As a worker in the school system I recognize the incredible power of this network to disseminate information. Wether we are discussing art work in a museum, rules on the playground or current events related to reading material - my classroom is a place where we are deeply concerned with the idea of justice. I believe in the power of ideas and in the power of discussion, at any age. The information we share in our classrooms will inevitably affect America’s collective imagination. I believe this is one of the most meaningful ways to change the world in which we live.
When I think of dancing- I think of a circle. My movement classes are about moving as a group, sensing rhythm and expressing our feelings and imaginations through movement. I love the wildness of watching kids improvise. As a facilitator I create movement experiences that require no prior dance training and emphasize discussion, movement potential, self acceptance and creativity. How and when did imagination become a privilege? My projects wholeheartedly abandon the idea of expertise and technical proficiency in order to focus instead on composing movement and sound to create meaning. So much of technical dance education is about changing people; I am interested, instead, in what is already there.
Teaching is not about answers.
Teaching is about questions.
Teaching is also about community.
In my classroom I facilitate ways for students to connect to the world, whether this is through the social emotional skills inherent in performing arts education, or tools of language and expression that are sharpened in one of my writing or visual arts classes. Central to my practice is a philosophy based in imagination, truth and freedom. To read more about my graduate work on culturally responsive pedagogy click here.