After a very interesting Skype conversation yesterday, I feel I have a lot to consider in terms of the future of learning for my students and how they can progress through their current practice.
At the moment, my students compete...a lot!! I often read the comments on reports from adjudicators and of course these are useful, however, I have started to wonder whether this feedback is ever actually used as a tool to feed forward for improvement? I'll admit, in my dance competition days, I would read my comments and move on, probably forget they ever existed let alone be able to describe what was said. These comments however, are very valuable, they come from another outsider, someone who has not seen the routine or choreography before and perhaps picks up on ideas that have been missed. So what do competitions offer these learners? Taking away the idea of winning or getting placed, they offer a chance for individuals to compete against themselves. Once again, this came as a result of yesterday's Skype conversation. Do learners ever look at competing against themselves and then furthermore use this idea of 'competition' as a way to feed forwards into improvement?
Throughout my dance career, as I became older and a lot more experienced, I then grasped this idea of competing against myself to help me to improve, so following a perhaps unsuccessful audition, or a class that didn't go so well, I would analyse my performance...What could I do better? Where could I improve? And this helped me - and my self esteem!! So it has just clicked and resonated with me that this is a great tool to offer my learners. Encourage them to not just to want to compete against their peers, but themselves also. Film and record their dances where possible, self analyse and self critique to help hone skills, technique and performance. This certainly requires a level of maturity but once grasped I think is an invaluable means to learning.
This has led me to use these ideas for questioning in my qualitative interviews. I will question why my learners compete? What do they feel they get out of competing? How do they improve individually from competing? I am very interested in the range of answers that I will get.
I feel I am now offering them so much from this research proposal that essentially can continue to help them move forwards in their careers and when they have moved on from the dance establishment where I currently work that I honestly wish someone would have pointed out for me when I was younger, however just too naive to realise.
As a teacher, I always give feedback through discussion and correcting what isn't quite right. This idea however of using any kind of feedback whether it be exams, competitions or from teachers to feed forwards, create an action plan and self reflect and analyse is something that I feel I can offer my students at this moment that will prove useful and beneficial to their development. Time to get experimenting with new ideas...