It was an unexpected moment in middle school dance teaching when one of my special education classes took their dance learning to a whole new level! It was the last class that I would be witnessing them do for a while as I am about to begin a maternity leave. We were working on a group score that they were choreographing with my guidance for the structure. The para-professionals and classroom teacher were all participating and assisting as needed. I think that day there were 7 students ( special ed classes are small). So after we finished making the dance (some was slightly improvisational) the students performed it a couple of times with their teachers while I watched. They even tried it with a few different tempos of music. After realizing that they really didn’t need their teachers to do it with them, I suggested the adults become the audience and the students use each other if they forget what comes next or just make it up.
They did! My students with quite significant disabilities performed their dance together for the first time without adults, from beginning to end and I was blown away. I’m not sure what I thought would happen, but felt enough trust and had faith in their abilities that they could do it. They were very proud of themselves as were their teachers. Confidence was spilling out of them in a way I had never seen before. When I have shared before about teaching special ed and “keeping the bar high” this must be what I meant!
Blog Post by: Alisa Rasera, 11/21/12