What I love about being in administration is having the opportunity to watch educators at work. Unfortunately, it is something that teachers do not have much opportunity to do. While our school is full of wonderful teachers and support staff, I have been inspired by an “non-traditional” educator at our school.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have had a local dance teacher, Jake Evans, come and teach our students (K-5) hip hop. I know that hip hop is an easy sell with kids. Pop culture tells us its cool, so kids naturally want to be a part of it, but with Jake it is more than that. Jake teaches for a living, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is so effective, but I am. I appreciate so much of what he does.
“That’s tight! I like that, nice.”
First, he engages kids beyond the dance. He has a way of making them all feel special and noticing the small things they do and are trying in order to improve. He takes time and engages them one on one in a very busy environment.
“Hey, I thought we were tight? We go way back…like to Tuesday.”
He relates to kids. He jokes, but is not sarcastic, he engages them and laughs with them, not at them. He finds the time to make each kid feel special and give them attention in class. He recognizes their strengths, appreciates their effort, and is patient with the students and all their questions as they are learning.
Yo, you if you guys are getting this in 10 minutes that’s awesome. It took me like 10 days of practice to get this.
He understands that learning is a journey. When demonstrating some complicated foot combination he breaks it down to its roots and focuses on the essentials. He explains that in order to get really good, there is only one path – effort. He tells them they all have talent and can be great dancers if they want it and put in the time.
Step, step, hop, shoulder tight. blow it up…BOOM!
He gives immediate, timely and descriptive feedback. When teaching a new skill or move he breaks it down into simple steps and demonstrates each, then puts them together. He also uses language to reinforce steps and moves with kids…simple recitations that put the brain and their feet on the same wavelength.
More than anything else he has fun. He clearly loves what he is doing and he loves working with the kids. He encourages the kids to explore their moves and “freestyle” at the end of a routine. Positive energy is infectious and it spread like wildfire through the gym. You can feel the excitement and energy of the kids as they move down the hall anticipating seeing Jake.
As a classroom teacher and educator I am learning from Jake, but not with…you won’t get me out there busting a move. I am so appreciative of what he brings and thankful of what he is modelling to our kids and teachers.