Summer is half over, and although I should be sad that the days of sunshine, beach visits and summertime barbecues are nearing an end, I absolutely cannot wait to embark on my next journey! As stated in my previous blog, I recently accepted a teaching position with Chicago Public Schools as the dance teacher at Ravenswood Elementary School: A Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
I have been diving into curriculum planning this summer, and am excited to build a new dance program for Ravenswood. So far I have been working with the new National Core Arts Standards, the Common Core State Standards, the Illinois State Standards for the Arts, and the Chicago Public School’s Dance Scope and Sequence to build a framework for the beginnings of a comprehensive elementary dance education program. The program will be filled with units encompassing the creative process, the elements of dance, various dance techniques, creative movement, and the history and cultural influences of dance, as well as connections to the core content areas of language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
I have also met with the rest of the arts team at Ravenswood—including the principal, the visual art teacher, the drama teacher, visiting teaching artists, parent members, classroom teachers and local community artists—to work on a plan for arts and academic integration, teacher professional development, and a PSA for our school’s arts programming and arts integration efforts.
Aside from planning my dance curriculum and school-wide initiatives, I have been busy gathering materials for the program as well. Starting a dance program from the ground-up is a lot of work. Things to consider: studio space, storage, flooring, mirrors, music, costumes, shoes, and so much more. Recently, I visited the school and found out which room will serve as my dance studio and have been in talks with the school regarding dance floor purchases, budget and the need for other various resources. The planning of space, logistics and resources makes the idea of having my own dance program really seem like a reality, and it is making me extremely excited!
Lastly, I have been getting to know the community in which I will be teaching, as understanding students’ community, culture, backgrounds and experiences is of utmost importance when working with children, no matter what discipline you are teaching. Within the Ravenswood neighborhood, which is very close to my own, there are multiple small businesses, arts organizations and community programs I often frequent. Currently, I have many campers at my summer-camp that go to Ravenswood, which is great that I get to meet and get to know them before I teach them. I have been in contact with local arts organizations, met parents and students within the school, and am planning events before school begins like an open house and ice cream social to get to know students, introduce myself to the school community, and introduce the program to the students, parents and teachers.
I have a lot of work ahead of me and know this school-year will be challenging. As a first-year teacher, and one starting a brand new program, I will have a lot of hard work ahead of me—initial program planning, unit and lesson planning, re-vamping curriculum, collaborating with new teachers, getting to know new students, long hours, and so many more challenges. But, I am ready for it! The suspense is killing me and I cannot wait to start this new journey!