Saturday, 28 December 2013

Let auld acquaintance (not) be forgot

It's nearly the end of 2013 and the end of my BAPP experience too. It's been hard work but in a good sense, and I really feel that I've changed for the better.

My report is nearly ready for submission and although I will never be completely happy with it - another aspect of my personality I'm working on (see Schwartz, 2004) - I believe I have found a voice and represented my students honestly and with respect. I have exercised restraint over what I have included and ruthless in what I have taken out and what is left is that which is of the greatest importance to me. I have taken time to improve on my shortcomings from the last module assignment and considered both the reader (in the flow and the structure) and myself (in the content) to produce what I feel speaks to my own practice and to others.

My artifact is also something I can honestly say would not have been possible for me 18 months ago. The thought of putting something of mine in the public arena and inviting people to comment and critique would have been unbearable. This shows me how much I  have grown. I won't deny it, I'm still concerned that it's not good enough or too simple or lame or... (insert childish taunt here) but I'm in a better place to discuss, reflect and address any problems I might encounter.

My students have been inspiring in their honesty and enthusiasm during my inquiry and I know I have taken on board some of the things they spoke (or wrote) about. They weren't at all selfish in their responses - I want, I want, etc. - they just spoke about what can go right or wrong in a dance class and how it makes them feel. I know that we cannot speak about truth as an absolute but in this case I will make an exception - I know that my teenagers are the best! They are bright, clever, generous, kind and supportive. And I know that my choices as a dance teacher should reflect this. My new mantra is now:

Those who can't, teach. Those who can, facilitate.

In other words I need to give my students the best opportunity for fulfilling their potential not by trying to push syllabus, technique, style, skills at them but by helping them to be able to take what they need, when they need it. Easy? No - it'd be much less effort to put on the music and go through the exercises. Worth it? Do you even need to ask! I'm not in it for the money, glory or status but to share something of the joy that dance has given me over the last 33 years. This course has woken me up, given me new energy and ideas and made me realise that, even when I'm at the end of my tether, I love what I do. 

Finally, the title of this blog reflects my wish to keep in contact with all the friends I have met and made on this journey. I don't think it would have been half the fun or half the learning experience without you. I'd also like to thank everyone who has supported me and given up their time to talk, debate, read, and give feedback. I am forever grateful and would like to wish you all a happy and successful New Year that contains as much happiness and love as you can possibly cram into 12 months.



Schwartz, B. 2004. The Paradox of Choice: why more is less. Harper Collins: London.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Summary of my project findings - a haiku (of sorts)

so much amazing
data to be analysed
where can I begin?

students shared thoughts,
experiences, ideas
on motivation

so many years spent,
so much time and commitment
and reasons to dance

some talked of passion
of challenge and achievement
some talked of status

four themes emerging
atmosphere, choice, belonging,
and feedback - my terms

theory added
autonomy, competence
relatedness too

my conclusion then?
the best gift a teacher gives:


P.S. I know it's a bit more than 100 words but that's what artistic license is all about!

Sunday, 15 December 2013


I've always been one for a good story, whether it's in visual, verbal or written form. Tales of humour, tragedy, love and life are important to me, they fuel my imagination, my sense of wonder and pique my interest.

This thought was inspired by a post on Facebook from Timeout:
Such beautiful images that all draw me in, wishing to find out more about the lives of the subjects and forming stories of what came before and after the image was capture.

It created a mental connection to something that I have been reflecting on during my (many) attempts to write up my analysis of findings - the need to tell my students story through my writing. It's not just words, it's peoples thoughts and experiences. I owe them honesty, respect and a degree of humility in the way I make my report.
As I said in my blog update yesterday, it's time to stop trying to be clever or smart or anything other than true to myself. The story is enough.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Getting things done...slowly

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, not in a good way, but I've been doing able to get a bit more stuff done this week. Phew!

My professional artifact is up and running here:
I really want it to be a useful site so if there's anything you feel should, or shouldn't, be there please comment below.
There's a forum so please join and share thoughts, ideas or stuff you've read that others might be interested in. I've just posted about a silly Christmas idea I had for my last Grade 6 tap class of the year - rhythmic pass the parcel!
There's also a blog where I'm hoping to post about stuff to do with motivation. My first blog is a very potted summary of my inquiry!

My Critical Review needed a complete overhaul from the draft I sent Paula. She was very supportive and gave me lots of helpful notes but I think it was a bit of a chore for her to wade through. So, after much cutting, pasting, scrapping and rethinking I decided the following:

It seems to have worked because, although it's still very rough, I quite enjoyed reading it through and didn't yawn too many times or ask out loud "what are you talking about?!" I've got two days off work - tomorrow and Monday - so I'm planning to immerse myself in it and then hopefully get into the nitty-gritty of references, appendices, citations and the bibliography too.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Professional *sigh ahhhhhhtifact

At long last I have weighed and measure, trialed and error'd, hum'd and ha'd and arrived at what I now consider to be my audience-appropriate, material-appropriate, and ethos-appropriate artifact! YIPPPPEEEEEEEE!

I have found a great free-website/ blog building site called, which I have been playing around with for the last few weeks. The website I built has mutated into a website/blog with forum and external links to existing research! It sounds busy and confusing but I think it will be exactly what I want, which is:
  • sharing my professional ideas/ thoughts/ inquiries,
  • collecting and sharing links to others work,
  • encouraging commenting and debate,
  • affording me control over content to ensure it is appropriate,
  • easily accessible through the web (and the bless site even has a mobile web application),
  • easily updated, and
  • has the potential to be linked to FB, Twitter, LinkdIn, etc. in the future.
The only problem I have with it is that I can't make it more accessible to people who find text a difficult medium, but as the artifact is not necessarily a definite answer but can be a work in progress then I am reasonably happy that I can spend more time in the future trying to develop this aspect.

I also need to get a little bit more clued up on what I can legally include and what would cause infringement of copyright as I would like to use my blog to post motivational memes as well as professional thoughts.
I hope to have it basically up and running in the next week or so (I'll blog about it and link to it from here) and would really love to people to start commenting and using the site - feedback about it here would be really appreciated.

I'm using a couple of blogs that I created earlier this month as my starting point on the site, as they are about my inquiry/ practice, so my apologies if you've read them on here.
I'd also love it if anyone has got things they would like to share on it (once you've assessed its use to you as practitioner) or even guest blogs...
OK so I'm getting a little carried away as it's not even a real site yet but I'm so a) happy and b) relieved to feel 'on the way' at last that you can't blame me for being bouncy!


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Playing devils advocate

So I'm looking at motivation in adolescents and rolling along with themes and ideas when I decided to start reading a book I picked up in the uni. library,
                             The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
because it's not enough to be trying to formulate thoughts into words and words into flowing sentences all know what I'm saying!
So here's the basic premise of the book - too much choice is bad for you!
Well that got me thinking about one of the themes in my inquiry; that the quest for autonomy involves the individual 'choosing' rather than being controlled. An idea that I've been really trying to develop in my classes over the last few weeks.
But now I'm thinking, can I go to far and overload students with freedom and choice thus sabotaging my own plan for enhancing classes?
In his opening chapter Schwartz talks about a trip to buy jeans (usually for him a five minute trip) turning into a day of trying on and deliberating; the modern day consumer nightmare of having fifteen styles and cuts of jean instead of the one-size-doesn't-quite-fit-all pair of yesteryear!
Is this just a consumer problem, something that affects material choice, or does this spill over into other areas of life?
I can already hear myself, and other dance teacher friends, bemoaning that 'children today have too much choice' and so 'never really focus on one thing properly.' Does this also apply to those choices given within the class?
In other words, is there an 'autonomy spectrum' ranging from totally controlling to over-freedom? And if there is will it be possible to find that perfect balance point in the middle?
Definitely one for the next inquiry...