November 13, 2018 - Veronica Cheeseboro
Dance Ed Tip #48:
Chronicles of a New High School Dance Teacher
Today I’m excited to share with you a guest blog post by Veronica Cheeseboro! Veronica was one of my graduate students at Rutgers University and has incredible passion, charisma, and creativity in the classroom. When she got a job running a high school dance program I knew that I wanted her to share her experiences and Dance Ed Tips with all of you! Without further ado, here is Veronica’s blog post on her first few months as a high school dance teacher:
The main challenge I face everyday is that I am ALWAYS mistaken as a high school student! From my fellow teachers, students, agents, AP’s and sometimes even my own students that cannot find me in the room! And, if you decide to teach within the high school setting as a new, young teacher, the “you look like a student” phrase will become an everyday greeting. My advice is - take it as a compliment, but walk with the demeanor that exudes authority and confidence. Students will respect you because you relate to them while also understanding that you are an authority figure.
In regards to success, I definitely have my students in a space where they are excited to learn new ways to dance, collaborate and interact on a daily basis. Engagement can be hard, especially when students feel incompetent. I always assure my students and put myself in their shoes. More importantly, I break steps allllll the way down. Patience is key with beginner dancers, and creating a space where they feel safe to learn, make mistakes, and can move at a pace that is most comfortable for them (initially) is essential for a growing dancer.
In regards to growth, I have found a niche for creating technique drills and choreography that are challenging yet feasible for my students. In order to develop that craft, I had to consistently diagnose what my students needs are. One way I gather this information is by stepping out often to observe what students grasp immediately regarding choreography. Another way I gather this information is by allowing students create their own choreography, and I observe their movement tendencies and comfort zones. For my students here, I create choreography and technical progressions through the lens of mastery and relevancy.
Overall, I am grateful to be working with these students. They are authentic, curious, dedicated and most of all- receptive to what I have given them as an educator so far. They have also been teaching me a lot. Knowing that learning is a two way street for both teachers and students allows for the educational experience to be that much more expansive and valuable. Though this is only the beginning of the year, we are already learning a lot! I cannot wait to share how this dance department grows!