Facilitator Victoria Albaracin and participant Aiano Nakagawa reflect on the September 10, 2019 Practitioner Exchange: Creating Space for Child-centered Work
From Victoria: I love how a community, who does not know each other personally, can come together to discuss different topics and then brainstorm ideas to deeper our practice and pedagogy. I think we have a unique opportunity as educators to collaborate and learn from one another that we might not get in our normal teaching communities. This exchange for me was especially valuable because I am still growing as a dance educator and finding more ways to integrate into my general education classroom. I’m super excited because I’m taking over the dance program for kindergarten at my school and I plan on using the ideas that were shared during our exchange, and I feel like we have a community that can continue to share with one another outside of the Practitioner Exchange.
From Aiano: One major question that came up was: What is the role of the teacher and in true-child centered play? We reminded ourselves that the teacher is not the center. It can feel destabilizing to stand back, like you’re not doing anything as the teacher, when, in many cases, that’s the best thing you can do. Especially in dance, we sometimes feel we have to prove we are teaching/educating, so we take more power/control over the class than necessary. It was validating to hear and agree that stepping back and letting children be is important – and essential – to their development and growth. From this place we can watch children’s own interests and inquiries reveal themselves, and as we listen deeply and ask questions, a new curriculum, one led by our students, can emerge.
Victoria Albaracin is a kindergarten teacher and newly self-identified dance educator at Ascend Elementary School in Oakland, CA.