Thursday, 29 November 2012

Task 3c Sources of information

The third task in this module asks us to write about our current 5 most important sources of information, or "the methods by which you, and others, gather and organise information" (Reader 3, p22). In the blog I posted earlier today I tried to look at how other people on this course gather information, and whether these were the same, similar or different to mine.
My general conclusion is that there does seem to be a majority of overlap areas, such as, for example, personal contact, web 2.0 and social-networking, but that there is also great variety within these common sources that reflect both the differences in personality and the different professional practices of each person.

Having reflected on my own practice, and personality, here are the 5 current sources of information that I consider as most important to me, at this particular point in time:
  1. People
  2. Websites
  3. Books/ magazines/ articles/ videos/ DVDs
  4. Notes
  5. Web2.0 technologies

People are probably the most important source of information to me both as a human being and also within my field of practice.

I know that, although I am not the most gregarious of people, I wouldn't survive for long without other people in my life to share the highs with and to support each other during the lows. The reciprocal nature of contact with others means, for me, the forming of relationships that go way beyond the giving and taking of information or help; they create the feeling of belonging, of being valued and having self-worth.

In my role as dance teacher I also deal with people on a daily basis. My students aren't quantities to be processed, or robots to be programmed, but are unique entities that come with their own agenda and that provide me with a wealth of learning possibilities.
Each student has someone who provides them with support - be it a parent or parents, other family members, carers, or foster parents - and the information gained from these adults is invaluable in understanding their children, whether from direct verbal communications or from observation and understanding of attitudes and outlooks. They also provide other points of view, and, because of their various professions or experiences, a wealth of knowledge that I might not otherwise have access to.

My work colleagues and employers provide me with so much in the way of information, whether this is directly - in the form of instruction, comments, discussions or ideas - or indirectly - by observing their different teaching styles or the way they handle problems. They are also people who have similar ideals to me and understand the technical language of our shared practice.
Friends and family are also information providers and, generally, have the opposite benefit to work colleagues and employers in that they don't share the same understandings of my profession and so can offer a completely different and objective set of thoughts, knowledge and ideas. They are also the people with whom I can share the deepest, darkest, most troubling aspects of my soul without fear of judgement or reproach; they are my sanity and rationality!

Websites are useful in all aspects of my professional practice. I can:
  • find out about legal or ethical aspects of my practice from the two society's that I teach under (the R.A.D. and the I.S.T.D.)
  • keep up-to-date with syllabus changes or modifications and news
  • download current examination forms, syllabus outlines, and specifications
  • find out about courses, jobs and opportunities for CPD
  • buy the latest books, syllabi, dance shoes and clothing, props, etc.
  • find articles (both past and present) and access library catalogues
  • find out about current shows or performances
It is clear from the list above that I use websites when I require, what I shall call, 'black and white' answers, or information that is not subject to interpretation.
I have to be careful that the information I gather is correct so that I am not putting my students or myself in any danger or becoming out-dated in my practice, so I do use a lot of the same websites that have been tried and tested over the years for their reliability.

Books/ magazines/ articles/ videos/ DVDs are all invaluable sources of information to me as a dance teacher.
I have many books on my shelves that I delve into on a regular basis. Some are non-fiction and cover such wide-reaching topics as, for example, child development, anatomy, and dance history. Others are fiction and provide me with ideas and inspiration for classes, shows, costumes, etc.
I receive regular magazines from dance societies that provide me with news, current thinking and debates, articles related to dance and dancers, and more.
Articles, both in magazines and on the internet, are important sources of information both in terms of gaining knowledge and in widening my outlook. I also find that I can be reading something in a newspaper or magazine that at first seems unrelated to dance but that becomes useful as part of my professional practice.
I use videos and DVDs of the syllabi that I teach to ensure that I have accurate knowledge of each exercise and constantly refer to them when planning my classes so that I don't forget any of the details or make mistakes in the settings.

I make all sorts of notes and find them invaluable as reference tools or reminders of information that I may have forgotten about. They are taken in a variety of different settings, for example, during courses or after lessons, and for a variety of different reasons, for example, on particular students or after accidents or incidents, and, as of very recently - in my journal.
I would also include copies of examination reports, reports on progress, and letters I have written within this category.

Some of my methods of note taking are more organised than others but I usually find time to get the more important onces into some semblance of organised chaos so that I can locate them when I need to!

The most recent source of information I use is Web 2.0 technologies, and it is even more the case since starting on this course.
I have been using social-networking sites for several years now, to keep in contact with people I don't see regularly, to keep informed about events and breaking news, and to discover new connections. However, this is the first time I have ever really been involved in the blogging world, and can really see how much there is to be gained from sharing with others - whether by writing my own or by commenting on other people's blogs.
I have always found youtube to be a great source of information in the form of dance routines, show clips and choreographic ideas, but I had never really realised how much other information there was available. In the last three months I have found so much on there to help me with the topics of this module, and, by setting up my own channel, now have the ability to store all of this information in an easy to access way. I shall definitely continue to use it for exploring...
Google, and applications like Zotero and Delicious, have also taken more of a leading role in the discovery of information. I was aware of some of the functions of Google but have now found so many more options within it, which I will continue to use.
The use of bookmarking sites to store information and links, so that they can be easily accessed, is such a great tool.
I'm also sure that there are still more exciting discoveries to be made!


  1. It's great to hear another teacher voice that they see there students as more than just pupils. I learn so much from the kids in my class. They give us plenty to reflect on and more learning experience than you could ever get in a classroom.

    I have had an idea lately if occasionally letting the kids take the class. Would be nice to see my role through there eyes. What do you think?

    1. Hi Bobbie,
      I often get my kids to make up rhythms for each other in tap lessons, and my older students to make up their own rhythmic responses as I sometimes feel I get predictible! I have also been experimenting, this term, with getting the students to work with each other rather than having me do all the teaching - I think some kids feel a lot of pressure to "get it right" if the teacher is standing in front of them, whereas with peers there is less pressure... So far, the results are brill! It has also given me more time to see exam students do things seperately whilst still managing to keep everyone else active and learning.
      I think it's an interesting thought about reversing roles, I'm not sure whether I'd let a whole lesson out of my control...but that probably says more about my issues!! Are you thinking about it from what you might learn or from their learning?
      If you try it, let me know how it went, what you felt was gained by it, etc.