Friday, March 25, 2011

Watching Dancing With The Stars

Slice of Life Challenge # 25 - March 25, 2011

I wonder if anyone has ever thought of the difference between the quickstep and the waltz in dancing, and applied it to their students? The quickstep seems to rise above the music, hardly landing before it moves on to the next place. Yet it is enthusiastic, pulling people along into its vacuum of action like a tornado. It moves and grabs, moves and grabs.

The waltz, conversely, takes its time and allows one to savor the sound, be intentional in the movement, and drift deeper into the meaning of the music. I enjoy both dances, having watched them often enough on Dancing With the Stars, and don't want to choose a favorite. They both possess unique attributes. I work hard to have my appreciation for different kinds of students be applied in the same way. Each has his or her own lovely ways about them.

Additionally, thinking of my conversations with students as I evaluate their work, for some very odd reason, when Dancing With The Stars started a new season this week, I began to hear the judges’ words in a different way. This time, because it was the first performance, I heard them be cautious with their assessment, trying to offer at least a little credence to the dancers’ efforts. The judges wanted to help motivate the dancers to improve, certainly not to give up hope after only the first program! (It’s not economically advisable.) I thought for the most part that they were sensitive, supportive, and motivating—how I’d like to be as a teacher.

I rarely look at the differences in order to judge who might be the better learner, only to see how someone learns better. This is a bit awkwardly put, but I really mean that as everyone is different, each teacher has to use the personal ways students learn, and learn to teach that way. Some students might have more challenges at first than others, in order to meet some criteria, but really, we all don't have to get to the same destination by the same path ever. As I watch the dancing week by week, I see those who may have been struggling mightily at first actually present lovely dances in later performances. As our students are all so different, I wonder about us teachers as we ask them to do the same thing, and excel the same way; and I continue to wonder and question why. And I wonder if it’s economically advisable?

10 comments:

  1. I haven't caught this season's show yet. What a wonderful analogy. I too wonder why...and I feel it is not going to get better with the reforms they are suggesting.

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  2. I also liked your dance analogy. It is difficult to be a teacher at times. There are all these expectations, demands, high-stakes testing, benchmarks, etc. and then you have all these students who all have "lovely ways" about them with different talents, gifts and needs.

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  3. I like the way you tied the "economically advisable" parenthetical comment in at the end. It was unexpected and packed a punch.

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  4. I too liked the punch at the end. A student, discouraged early and often quickly gives up and stops being a student.

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  5. I like your analogy and your description of our struggles. I long to embrace each student's uniqueness, but these last few years I seem to be pushing them towards a score. It makes me, and also them, uncomfortable.

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  6. I love your analogy. I immediatley thought you were going to address the way teachers sometimes have to use the quick-step--moving and grabbing students' attention, engaging them in any way possible. Other times, the teachable moment calls for waltzing-- savoring the discussion or conversation, deeply thinking about the subject matter.

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  7. wow, similar posts today. I just started watching Dancing... I think this panel of judges are somewhere in between the old AI judges and the new ones... More theatrical but then the show is more theatrical.
    But it was fun to read your classroom analogies.
    Bonnie

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  8. I must confess that I have never watched Dancing With The Stars, but I loved the analogy you have drawn so clearly and effortlessly here. Using prior knowledge of my own feckless efforts during dancing lessons all those years ago, I could easily identify with the need to suspend judgment. Great piece!

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  9. Wow. You have captured the essence of both dances.I have taken dance lessons but I am not able to describe them like that, and I have never thought of dancing from the angle you brought up. I have watched Dancing with the Stars (Estonian version) and just admire the risk-taking the competitors show.
    Your post left me thinking. Thank you.

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  10. What a great analogy. I must remember this. Soft and slow to start and then fine tuning the pushing and encouragement.

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