by Lisbeth Woodington
Preparing for the Practitioner Exchange with my Summer Institute colleague Mershon Illgner was a constructive, self-reflective process. The exchange provided us with the opportunity to share ideas and to think collaboratively about our teaching practices. All educators – teachers, teaching artists and administrators – need the consistent practice of self-reflection, in order to remain self-aware, sensitive and present. That said, this ties in well with the topic we addressed in our exchange, Documentation and Dance. We prepared guiding questions and gathered images from our own lessons/experiences around documentation and dance. However, we remained open to the possibility that the conversation might take other directions, as often happens with an inquiry-based approach to learning.
One of the big takeaways from the exchange was that in order to bring documentation into dance, a habit needs to be created; documentation should be something that students can come to expect from every session. Once the habit of mind is there, the space is then created for students to make documentation their own. Ultimately, a central goal for educators is to witness their students using tools for their learning and creativity with independence and agency. Another point that looped through the conversation, the idea of documentation as a process and not solely as an artifact. An artifact, whether it be a photograph, drawing, video, audio recording, etc., is the result of documentation, and often a beautiful result, but standing alone, they are not documentation. Documentation is a process and those artifacts are elements that speak of our process.
Overall, both of us walked away from the exchange with a deeper understanding of why and how we can use documentation in dance and other areas of student learning. Equally as important, co-facilitating the Practitioner Exchange was a reminder: it is invaluable to have colleagues that are mirrors and windows through which to see our pedagogical and creative practices.