As the hustle and bustle of the holidays winds down and the time to relax over winter break shortens, we prepare to head back to school, work and life. As we enter into a new year, we start some new adventures: a new semester at Columbia, new classes to take and coursework to learn, new projects to embark on, and new paths to follow.
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So far this January, I have seen huge changes in my life within just a few weeks. I have put two jobs on hold for the semester while continuing with two others; I have picked up additional part time work; I have started new classes; I have begun paying more attention to my own health, exercise and dancing; and I am preparing to embark on a journey of full time student teaching.
As my schedule will inevitably and drastically change during student teaching, I have had to put my jobs at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Design Dance on hold until summer. I am continuing with my work as a Graduate Assistant in the Elementary Education Department and as the Graduate Ambassador for my program at Columbia College Chicago. I am happy to announce with all the changes in my work schedule that I will still be teaching dance, creative movement, and arts classes as I have recently added some children’s classes to my workload at Explore and Much More during the spring semester.
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Looking at my graduate studies, I have recently started the course Dimensions in Multicultural and Global Awareness for J-Term, a class I am learning a lot from and will be sure to blog about in weeks to come, and will begin two more courses for the spring semester: Education, Culture and Society and the course accompanying my Student Teaching Internship.
I have always been an avid dancer and love to exercise, but recently have felt I have been so busy that I was not committing enough time and dedication to my dance practice and health. In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I have decided to start an exercise and dance journal, in which I will not only track my efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but will also note my ideas, inspirations and choreography for current and future projects. Over break I have been sampling different dance classes with various companies and studios in the area, and have found a few that I can continue with during my student teaching that challenge me as a technical dancer while allowing me to explore my own artistry. My artistry is important to me and I am happy that I will continue to personally practice it and document it.
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I have also began a practice of reading. I always read, of course, but too often my reading is dominated by the texts and research within my coursework. I have purchased, found on my shelf, and received as gifts this past holiday season many books that spark my interests around culture, media, education, history and social change, and am excited to get back into reading for pleasure and reading something I chose myself. Each book I have on my reading list has a meaning to me, and will help me become a more well-rounded, informed individual.
And last, but certainly not least, I will begin full-time student teaching starting January 27. I have been observing, teaching, and getting to know my class and my cooperating teacher for some time now, and am extremely excited to take on more responsibility as my teaching role increases and am excited to continue to reflect and learn during the process. I have the dates of my formal observations set, my curriculum maps ready, I have been gathering ideas, guides, and materials for lessons and units in all subjects, and have planning sessions on the calendar. Although this semester will be busy, I am most excited to be taking on the role of the teacher in the classroom, as I will be fostering an environment for students to construct meaning of the world around them, an environment where students can explore and create, and an environment in which everyone learns.
As with many graduate programs I am sure, this is the start to the time of the year where everything gets absolutely crazy: internships, new classes, performances and events, increases in workload, and what seems as the shrinking of hours in each day. We must remember to take time for ourselves, whatever that may be, and to set aside time for our own practices that are outside the realm of what we are studying. We must remember to carve out a plan and a schedule to adequately complete our coursework, and to constantly look for resources that help us continue to be successful at our work. And we must also set aside time for self reflection, so that we can continue to improve and learn from our experiences.