Filming final projects + social emotional learning (Weeks of Mar. 13 and 20)

Over the past two weeks I have continued to volunteer with NCAIA as well as researching topics such as social emotional learning. Ms. McDonald encouraged me to conduct some more research on the benefits of social emotional learning through dance. I had researched this topic a bit last semester, but it was interesting to learn more about the variety of ways social emotional learning and dance can benefit children who have difficulty communicating or getting along with their peers. For example, I found that SEL is extremely helpful for children who are uncomfortable or have difficulty communicating verbally. My younger brother used to be very averse to speaking to classmates, teachers, and strangers during his earlier years, so it was interesting to learn about methods that are now being implemented to help other kids who struggle with the same difficulties. I also read an article written by a teacher who talked about how she noticed her students were able to get along better and feel more empowered after incorporating SEL and dance into her curriculum.

This weekend, instead of having our usual class at City Ballet, we went to the North Carolina Museum of Art to film the final choreography projects the kids had been working on for the past month. The first half of the day was spent rehearsing the two dances my group had choreographed and polishing formations. I also helped my kids prep for an interview they were going to do talking about their choreographic process and explaining the inspiration for their pieces. We were able to film each group’s individual pieces inside the museum in front of a large and beautiful art piece, which stylistically looked stunning. We then filmed a piece that the whole class had learned together outside and took some informal footage of myself and the other teachers interacting with the kids and letting them improvise as well. I am really excited to see how the film turns out!

Q3 Reflection (Week of Mar 6)

This semester I’ve had an amazing time volunteering with NCAIA and their weekend arts program. Being able to act as a dance teacher, demonstrate, and interact with so many young dancers has been so fun and fulfilling. It has been incredibly rewarding to see students start to come out of their shells when I dance with them or help them understand a piece of choreography. I’ve loved learning about different strategies to effectively teach individual dancers as well as the ways in which dance can act as a medium to help learn about other subjects. For example, the dancers are currently working on a project about exploring North Carolina, its history, and its notable figures. They are incorporating research, writing, and choreography into their projects and it has opened my eyes to how dance can be a vehicle to help students learn and express their ideas. This is a concept I learned about last semester, but it has been really exciting to see it happen in real life.

Looking forward, I am really excited to create a long-term partnership with NCAIA. I spoke with 2 of the other teachers/coordinators last weekend when I was volunteering and they were enthusiastic about the idea. They want to get in contact with Mrs. McDonald, my content advisor, as well so that we can brainstorm what would be most helpful to the program. Mrs. McDonald has been really helpful throughout this process because she has been able to advise me on how to begin these conversations with representatives of various organizations. She has also helped me come up with numerous ideas for what a potential partnership could look like. I am really excited to continue my study and hopefully form a beneficial partnership.

Chatting about a program + new insights into the power of dance (Week of Feb 27)

At this weekend’s class, I loved seeing something I had learned in my research during my first semester applied in the real world. I learned last semester that dance can act as a vehicle to help students learn about other subjects; this weekend, I saw how learning through dance excites and engages students. The dancers are currently working on a project about exploring North Carolina, its history, and notable figures. The project incorporates research, writing, and original dance choreography. I loved seeing how excited the dancers were to learn more about their region and historical figure because they knew that what they researched would shape the dance they create.

It was also rewarding to see how one of the older girls in the class came out of her shell and committed to the choreography we were practicing during the first half of the class when I did it with her as her partner. I’ve noticed that as one of the older girls in the class she sometimes feels out of place or uncomfortable dancing with the younger kids, but when I danced with her I noticed that she did everything full-out and seemed genuinely happy and proud to be dancing.

Lastly, I spoke to Ms. T (Ms. Sutton) and Ms. Kim, two of the coordinators and teachers at NCAIA. Although we didn’t have much time to talk during class, they were excited to talk with me and Ms. McD more soon.