I love to dance! I’m not a great dancer…in fact, I’m not even a good dancer. I really don’t care, though, I just dance or, as the saying goes, I “dance like no one is watching“. So, when I attended a learning session this past week where the presenter shared that teaching was like being a choreographer, I was intrigued.
has the potential to be a curiosity amplifier and can transform teaching and learning but only if harnessed in powerful pedagogy.
We reviewed Critical Inquiry and how creating an engaged, curious classroom community can serve the needs of today’s learners. What really got me reflecting this week was when Gini-Newman identified what the teacher’s role in this learning environment needs to be.
For me, I always felt the role of the teacher included a balance of the following:
Teacher as Expert ~ the teacher needs to have some depth and breadth of knowledge about the subject discipline – preferrably not just to dispense information to students but to know where to guide students as they uncover curriculum together in order to assist students in making connections, both to prior learning and to the real world where the subject discipline lives.
Teacher as Facilitator ~ the teacher needs to bring out the past experiences, new understandings and individual perspectives from students – often watching and observing as the learning unfolds while giving students voice and choice, when possible, in exploring, in more depth,topics of interest.
Teacher as Coach ~ the teacher needs to continuously assess the developing understandings and skills in order to support next steps in learning – asking questions and helping students find answers within themselves while developing confidence and perseverance through ongoing feedback and opportunities to learn from mistakes.
This week, Gini-Newman provided me with a new way to consider the role of the teacher – which caused me to do a lot of thinking. I wasn’t sure, initially, if I agreed with his analogy.
Teacher as Choreographer? ~ I am in awe of talented dancers – the movement, the skill, the grace and strength. Quite frankly, even though I took several years of dance in my youth (and was really very bad!) I have little to no understanding of what is involved as a choreographer. What my limited understanding tells me is that choreographers plan a dance routine and get the dancers to follow their plan. So, how is this any different from the traditional role of a teacher? Plan a lesson and have the students follow your plan (Teacher as “Sage on the Stage”). Then I did a little research. I watched this TEDTalks video to help me understand more about the role of a choreographer.
What I discovered is that in the kind of choreography shown here, the choreographer exposes the dancers to an idea or gives them a challenge, creates a mental picture, and provides them with choices for what to do for themselves. As they explore the creative process, the choreographer observes how the dancers are interacting with the movements and ideas and then makes decisions, in that moment, about how to collaborate with them to change, adjust and connect to the central idea. The process is fluid, based on taking risks, expressing voice and communicating ideas.
The skilled classroom teacher, as choreographer, follows this same creative, collaborative process. The process is never fixed, always fluid, dynamic, responsive to individuals and allows for individuals to interact with new ideas and understandings in a way that is meaningful to them. The teacher continuously assists students to connect the smaller pieces to the big, overarching idea in order to bring coherence and meaning to the process.
Teacher as choreographer – it is a lot more complicated than to just dance!