Are you growing tired of delivering the same classes over and over? Dance could be the spark you need to get your students up and moving. This article will support primary teachers in feeling more confident to design and implement dance activities in their classroom.
Many teachers struggle with using dance as part of a Primary school teaching program that works across disciplines. Teachers with positive experiences in dance find it relatively easy to engage with dance in their classroom.
Unfortunately, great dance activities are not always a part of the pre service teaching experience. Teachers with limited involvement in the Arts either in their own Primary school journey, or as a part of their teacher training, may be unwilling or feel they are unable to engage with dance in their classroom.
Why teach dance in your classroom?
We dance with the body but also think with the body. As an instrument, it enables children to work in real and imagined worlds and to find how to communicate without words. For primary age children who often have sophisticated thoughts but a limited vocabulary to express themselves, it means that they can move beyond the limitations of words.
Dance enables students to understand, think, feel and do all at the same time.
Dance activities in the primary classroom provide a rich potential for learning through problem solving. Dance activities require the dancer to create, perform and reflect on dance, examining multiple ideas for their potential and selecting and rejecting solutions to dance problems.
Students may solve these movement problems collaboratively or individually, supporting social development and negotiation and resolution skills.
In an age of screens and immobile children’s entertainment, dance promotes active, engaging learning. Twenty minutes of exercise can improve brain processes and enhance cognitive control for up to an hour. The big bonus is that physically active classrooms are easier to manage.
Movement skills including balance, stamina and gross and fine motor skills are enhanced while exploring ideas from other areas of the curriculum. Learning not just about dance but through dance. It offers the potential to experiment with science, maths and literacy through an embodied learning experience.
Positive self-concept, self-esteem, confidence and positive images of the body as a form of expression are all benefits of dance in the primary classroom. Students take ownership of their movement creations and use these dance works to communicate emotions and feelings.
The playful participation in dance allows students to learn through expression. But most importantly active learners are happier learners.
Why teachers may not be confident to teach dance
Deirdre E Russell-Bowie in her article, What? Me? Teach Dance? Background and Confidence of primary preservice teachers in dance education across five countries, identified these as some of the reasons for teachers lack of confidence.
- Limited background in formal dance education
- Preconceived negative attitude to dance
- A lack of role models, resources or positive experiences
- Negative gender issues
- Lack of cultural connections with dance due to country of origin
- Lack of knowledge, motivation and lesson ideas
- Lack of knowledge about what teaching dance involves
How teachers can become more confident about teaching dance
- Network with other colleagues who may be more experienced in dance
- Gather resources including books and online lesson ideas
- Observe a colleague teaching – reflect on what happened in the class, how it was structured and what was the strongest learning experience
- Attend a professional development course. Ausdance and Queensland Ballet offer a range of professional development opportunities.
- Invite a specialist dance educator to come so you can observe
- Invite an in-school dance company to come to perform and give workshops.
- Find a curriculum area you would like to teach about and develop an activity. Some ideas: Magnetism, the tides, light refraction
- Find many simple dance curriculum teaching resources here to make your implementation of the Arts curriculum easy.
When you start embedding dance in your lesson plans as a way of engaging primary students you will begin to see opportunities for dance in every lesson you teach!
Creativity is an essential teaching skill, so find you inner dancer and give it a go!