Guest Blog: Prompting Children’s Reflections
by Mandy Possel
Mandy shares what she learned from co-facilitating our September 2018 Practitioner Exchange on Prompting Children’s Reflections with fellow Summer Institute alum Katrina Deans.
As I reflect back on our Practitioner Exchange, I am flooded with a rush of excitement. It was pure joy for me to hear what each participant brought to the table of discussion. Because I live and teach in Memphis, I connected by video conferencing and was not physically present. Despite this, I felt a unified energy for each to share and to be heard.
To share and to be heard: both elements were discovered and discussed. Both are key ingredients to prompting children’s reflections. Connecting movement to sensory memory can help children expand their cognitive functions.
Katrina & I opened this talk by first identifying what brought us to this topic, and addressing our concerns, namely where and how do we structure reflection, and how can we find the time?
What we unearthed is you do not always have to make reflection a sit-down time. Sometimes it is best to allow it to happen in the moment. One can invite the children to have quick pop-ins throughout class verses having everyone sit down, stopping the movement and creating stiff structure.
We talked about how one can also utilize student-on-student reflection as a review, and the teacher can then walk around and listen to multiple reflections, allowing for everyone to reflect and be heard in a short time frame. Fellow teachers discussed how they use journaling as a very valuable means of collecting reflections, supporting children to respond in multiple ways: drawing, short notes, lengthy paragraphs, collage.
We talked about bringing bias and projecting our own reflections onto the students. We reinforced the idea that we must listen, and listen intentionally. Children can express reactions, complex feelings and emotions through their perceptions and their choices in movement. How they view their environment is uniquely their own. Everyone must allow each the freedom to reflect and express. Our thoughts and emotions are just that; our thoughts and emotions.
Prompting, should mean encouraging our students to be proud of how they feel and how they establish connections throughout their life. We each want to be validated and heard. You never know what reference a reflection could be initiated. Students find connections to reasoning in their own ways. Sometimes, their reflections are complex and/or very elaborate stories. They may end the story with the conclusion of and “that’s how dance made me feel!” Patience is a strength that should be valued.
Just as each of us learn through different lenses, our reflections reveal what makes us each unique and special. We as educators must continue to model what it is we are asking of our students, and to always be learning and exploring from and with them.
Mandy Possel is a twelve-year veteran performing and teaching artist in Memphis, TN. She currently is working with Roudnev Youth Ballet, Dance Dynamics, and independently teaching adult ballet and private lessons, while rehearsing and choreographing for 2018 Nutcracker. Most recently, Mandy was a celebrity and technical judge for the Mid-South Fair Talent Contest. Mandy graduated from Ohio University 2007 with a B.F.A., and participated in Luna’s 2018 Summer Institute. This was her first time participating and facilitating in a Practitioner Exchange. Mandy is looking forward to future exchanges where the joy of dance moves!
Katrina Deans is a dancer/choreographer/