I am dedicated to five primary fundamentals in my pedagogical philosophy. First, I believe in individual progress tracking for my students. Every student is different, be it body type, flexibility, level of experience, etc., so every student should be coached from the level that they are, and from what they own, not on any predetermined standard. Second, I am determined to be communicative to my students of the expectations of my courses, both physically and mentally, as it is essential to any productive learning environment for students to know what they must do to succeed in any given course. Third, I am committed to upholding the integrity of the technical and aesthetic attributes of genre/style I am tasked with teaching. A free-flow, postmodern class will not blend with a balletic pedagogy, nor would a modern class with bits of contemporary ballet. Unless I am tasked to do so, my class focuses on exactly the genre and technique within that genie that it says it is. Fourth, I am diligent of the physical strain put on the students when performing exercises that are particularly dangerous for key joints in the body. Some examples include exercises involving knee work, intense strain on the lower back, and heavy torque on the neck and spine. Fifth, I consider myself a collaborative teacher, as well as leader. Being a collaborative leader is about maintaining a position as director or manager while fostering a community of openness to creativity and innovation from the various students in a classroom.
As a dancer myself, I have danced for fourteen years, but as an educator, I have taught dance for three years, being greatly influenced by my alma mater, Southern Methodist University. I graduated from Southern Methodist University Division of Dance, earning a Bachelor of Fine Art in Dance Performance from the Meadows School of the Arts, and a Bachelor of Art in Anthropology with Departmental Distinction in the Dedmen School of Humanities and Sciences, receiving the Outstanding Senior Student award for anthropology and the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. While at SMU, I have been exposed to both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching as a methodology from the dance pedagogy course I took at SMU, and from working as a part-time teacher at my home town institution, Tyler Junior College. I have gained insights as to how to articulate specific mechanical attributes of a technique, instructing correct usage of muscle groups in achieving maximum efficiency in movement, or maximum effort, in movement. I also put much emphasis in my classes on the guided exploration into the artistic aspects of the technique, facilitating the discussion of various aspects of imagery, emotion, perspective, and intent while performing movement.
I primarily teach men’s technique ballet. While I do have extensive training in both Balanchine ballet and Graham technique in modern, I am not certified in either of these techniques. Regardless, I do have familiarity with them, and certain concepts from each are presented in my pedagogy. I have six general goals for progress that I expect to see students strive for. The student must apply their full ability to their work, work with energy and enthusiasm, apply and retain corrections from class to class, be prepared and focused for class, be self-motivated and continuously bring an added dynamic to their work that makes it exemplary, and lastly, must show an excellent amount of improvement from beginning of the semester to the end of the semester. A student, on their own individual track of progress, that can factually show effort in all these fields is an “A” student for me.
There is still another aspect of my teaching personality that does affect my approach in being the head of the classroom, my identity as an anthropologist. Anthropology has made me a people-oriented problem solver and a qualitative and holistic thinker, allowing me to approach issues from multiple perspectives. Not all issues with a student are kinesthetic, “physical ability” issues, but could be mental. For example, confidence is a must for progress in the classroom and for pushing the boundaries of what a student believes they can achieve; I see building that confidence in a productive and well-timed manner to be part of the job description as an educator. Aside, from the physical and mental aspects that go into a student’s performance in the classroom, there also the political and social boundaries between student and teacher that could either foster communication or destroy it completely. Therefore, I have an open-door policy with students. Aside from anthropology’s ability to enlighten, it has direct application to the culture of a workplace. It gives you a cultural competency when you have a global awareness of the people around you. In addition, anthropology has given me an acute attention to detail, and a strict adherence to scientific standards of conduct.
On the notes of scientific standards of conduct, I have knowledge of ethnographic field methods and comparative analysis and have conducted surveys and interviews in the context of both personal research and coursework before. I am proficient in the online literary management software "Mendeley" and have written many in-depth reports, essays, and case studies using a variety of sources and types of data. This research-minded aspect informs my teaching heavily. I pull from many sources of knowledge and insights to give my students a more well-rounded understanding of the art, and a more intriguing experience in the classroom.