Monday, June 23, 2014

That moment when...Karolyn Owens


That moment when...A teaching journey




My teaching journey began after graduating from teacher’s college in June of 2013. Just months after graduating, I was blessed to have earned two jobs in my field. I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to share my passion for dance with others.

“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together” – Unknown author

I would be lying if I told you that it had been an easy year – not that I had expected it to be. This year has been an extreme learning curve. I'm finding that I'm learning something brand new about the profession almost daily, which is one of the wonderful things about teaching. I'm in the lifelong process of finding my "teaching style", which I can only assume will change with every group of learners that I encounter. This year has been an eye opening experience in terms of what I value as an educator to my young students. Just this past weekend, I attended a dance competition and was blown away by the talent I had the honour of witnessing from my fellow competitors. I wondered how the teachers were able inspire their students to perform with such grace and maturity and achieve such technical excellence on stage, until I witnessed them coaching their dancers in the practice room before they took the stage. Without going into much detail, let’s just say I quickly decided that teaching method was not for me.

This year has been conflicting when I think of the kind of teacher I want to be. It's always been important to me that my students feel safe and secure in my classroom; safe to take risks and ask questions, but also to understand and respect the rules of the dance classroom and to treat the room as a sacred place. I find myself frustrated when my students get rambunctious and loud because it's not fair to those that need concentration in order to connect with their bodies. On the flip side, not all dancers thrive on silence. So where is the happy median?

When my students are quiet, I begin to wonder if I’ve actually done my job in allowing them to enjoy the freedom of dance, or if I’ve robbed them of the joy of a culturally involved art form that historically involved laughter, communication, and constant collaboration.

During my time as a bachelor of education student, one of my professors said something that has stuck with me and probably always will. She said that in order to teach well, you have to be "hard but lovely". When I reflect on my own teaching, I'm constantly trying to find this balance, which is especially difficult because every child learns differently. To embark upon a teaching career, is to embark upon a journey of lifelong learning. I’ve asked a lot of questions that I one-day hope to have the answers to, but I also wonder if maybe I’m not supposed to.


Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, Company Member, Karolyn Owens, reflects on life as a dance teacher.

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