Saturday, 14 April 2018

WHAT AM I DOING HERE! or Frogs in a Bucket!

I must quote the Module Three Handbook: Section Three on page 18

“Frogs in a bucket –
Two frogs fell in a bucket of milk. One couldn't see a solution for how to get out and slowly sank to the bottom. The other one swam round and round contemplating how to solve the problem of hopping out of the milk. By the morning that frog's swimming round and round had churned the milk into butter and he was able to hop out of the bucket.”


I find as I write this blog, as I collect data, and reflect over the entire process that has been involved with my knowledge in pursuing a master’s degree that it is not necessary for me to know exactly what I am doing or precisely where I am going.  Being aware of the final outcome or a general direction I sometimes all that is needed; especially in regard to this study.  This is becoming more and more evident.

Qualitative research is oriented towards investigation of meaning; data is often in the form of words and can be derived from in-depth observation.  When the paradigm of research shifted to qualitative as viable and credible research, a myriad of methods developed. Also, considering race, class, gender the writing became reflexive… My process of deciding what type of method my research is followed this path….and this confusion, so to speak, may be helpful in comforting some of you who are in Module Two and having feelings of being a fish out of water.

I was not aware of trying to come up with some unknown theory, although research about Grounded Theory seemed relevant and interesting to me.  The stage of analysis for grounded theory seems to be appropriate for my research – investigating and examining goal-setting; affirmations; mindfulness; and visualization in the training of dancers.

I had really not come to an appropriate understanding of the methodology I would be using in my research by the time I completed Module Two.  I spent too much time concerned about other things in the research process. Mainly in formulating an inquiry and trying to have a perfect question.

Now as I collect data now through recordings, media, lecture, interviews and literature review about mindset and these positive psychology tools(goal-setting; affirmations; mindfulness; and visualization) which is the context of my inquiry – certain concepts, related elements and themes are becoming apparent.

Ah – INDEED! “Data does have a life of its own!”

Question: Is my task to gain knowledge about critically-shared meaning that form the behaviours and reality of participants being studied?

Me:  “Hmmmmm, this is getting frustrating, because what I think I wanted is different from what I am getting! I am becoming increasingly curious as to what it is that I am getting, though, so let’s just keep going!”

I find comfort in another quote from the Module Three Handbook:

“What kind of data is it that you gathered? – you may have intended to get one thing and in fact when you did your data collection you got something else. So although you said what you wanted to do in your project plan (and you will also explain this starting point in your introduction in the Critical Review) it is important to show you know what it is you got.”

Codes, categories, concepts, and theories – SO MANY – However there are certain themes that are emerging!

I am finding that this blogging, note-taking, are leading me to other methodologies – if I am understanding methods correctly.

Narratology – The study of narrative and narrative structure and how these affect our perception!

Me: “WHAT! Storytelling is a qualitative research method?”  (Hand to head)  Of course, it is.  This is interesting because my research has to do with the effects of visualization, mindfulness, goal-setting, and affirmations (or self-talk)….doesn’t that follow a narrative paradigm?

Question: Does my interpretive perspective consider an organization as a subjective universe grasped through the representations that the ‘actors’ summon in their narrations?

Notes: Narrative, central values, culture or organization, differences, contradictions

Notes: Perhaps this is structure only?

Transcript Poetry is found between field notes/texts and the final research report  - code for themes, collaborate with participant to make sure the message of the original message is in text.

Are these Forms of Evaluation?

Other Notes:


- engaging in extensive field work where data collection is mainly by interviews, symbols, artifacts, observations, and many other sources of data.

- researcher in ethnography type of research looks for patterns of the group's mental activities, that is their ideas and beliefs expressed through language or other activities, and how they behave in their groups as expressed through their actions that the researcher observed.

- the researcher gathers what is available, what is normal, what it is that people do, what they say, and how they work.

Perhaps what I am doing here is an ethnography –

In any case, I MUST GET ON WITH IT; and if I could or would describe a consistent theme in my study it is…..GET ON WITH IT….

That being said I am aware that the data analysis equals/and/or involves interpretations of the functions and meanings of my findings – the words, images, context, and actions of every aspect or my inquiry.


The following are helpful resources in informing this blog.

1. Pernecky, T. (2016). Epistemology and Metaphysics for Qualitative Research. London, UK: Sage Publications.

2. Aldiabat, Khaldoun; Navenec, Carole-Lynne (4 July 2011). "Philosophical Roots of Classical Grounded Theory: Its Foundations in Symbolic Interactionism" (PDF). The Qualitative Report. 16: 1063–80. Retrieved 5 December 2014.

3. Richardson,L. (2000). "Evaluating ethnography," in Qualitative Inquiry, 6(2), 253-255

4. Module Three Handbook

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Reflection on Assessments

Assessments of Learning in Dance Education

Over the course of achieving higher qualifications from ISTD and while studying a Master’s Degree in Dance Pedagogy from Middlesex University, I have been applying theories of reflection to review own practice as a dance teacher, including making informed and balanced decisions for my own professional and personal progression. These have included recording and reflecting on my own learning experiences; evaluating the effectiveness of and developing opportunities to improve my professional practice; and analysing the impact of planned activities related to my own teaching.  The following reflections are about assessment in dance learning.

What type of assessment have I been using to evaluate my student’s ability to perform a dance with a specific sequence of movements?   There are a variety of ways assessment can be carried out in a dance context.  I sometimes construct assessments to reflect a student’s level of accomplishment and to demonstrate their understanding of the content.  Assessment can be formative, which happens throughout the learning and sometimes summative at the end of the lesson. 
How do you place this assessment into a plan of learning (POL) for my students and then how is this assessment carried out in lesson plans?

This reflection is an exploration on how I might better be able to assess my own students.  Rather than merely auditing their learning, I want to use assessment to ‘educate students and improve learning’ (Theresa Purcell Cone, 2005).   

Diagnostic Assessment Classes for Learners

I recently carried out a diagnostic assessment class for learners.  I wanted to consider the psychomotor, cognitive, and affective learning aspects in the assessments. Therefore, I was considering the following:

Psychomotor:How is coordination, balance, endurance, and strength in regard to the phrase of choreography that I was teaching the students.
Cognitive:  What knowledge did the students already have about the names of dance steps? Are they able to achieve the movement, repeat it or make adjustments as I give vocal instruction?
Affective:  How is the student’s participation and effort in the lesson? Are the students eager to answer questions? Are they shy? Is performing and expression in the movement new to them? Are they used to working in a team?

I often assess the ability of my students by asking them to respond orally to questions, because this is the most convenient and efficient way to assess my students learning. In the past I would to simply ask students to recall or remember facts through verbal questioning. However, my understanding of higher order thinking and learning has developed my assessment abilities.  For example, some of the questioning that I can use to include a balance of lower- and higher- order thinking include:

1.    Knowledge: Please execute the movement that happens on count 8? Who can show me a ‘cross-turn’?
2.    Comprehension: Why is it important for your arm to be parallel to the floor?  Why it might be necessary for us to use a wide stance at the beginning of the dance?
3.    Application: Create a movement phrase using three steps from the dance? 
4.    Analysis:  What about Kieran’s demonstration of the dance made you smile?  How was Group 1’s demonstration of a ‘cross-turn’ different from Group 2’s demonstration?
5.    Synthesis: Can we create a dance using one movement from each person’s dance? What aspect from watching the video can you add to your performance of the dance?
6.    Evaluation:  What did you like about the performance?  Why did you like it? Are there other reasons you think this performance was particularly good?

Identification and recall describes knowledge. Comprehension is about understanding. Application is how the use of facts and principles are used. Analysis dissects the whole into different components.  Synthesis combines these components into a new whole, and evaluation is the development of opinions or judgements. 

I identified that oral questioning is not only an excellent way to assess, it also engages my learners and allows for a connection to be made between us.  Trust is established and we begin to have a more in-depth experience in our learning process.

A variety of assessment provides an organised and comprehensive representation of what a child knows. Videoing is a way to capture this. Subjectivity is overcome when I can decide with the leading organisation, students’ parents, and students themselves the criteria for assessment.  For example, a rubric can be created.  Rubrics are not being used in my practice very much, but I believe it might be possible for me to discuss the use of a rubric measures to more objectively identify how appropriate a child is for performing on stage.  I often hear my colleagues say things like, “Wow, so cute!” or “It factor…”  and other extremely vague ways of describing the abilities of children when they are auditioning.  It annoys me and I become frustrated as I explain to them in what I describe as a more articulate and objective way of explaining a student’s ability.  

I can monitor my student’s progress during a single learning experience or over time.  These can include my observations recorded on a checklist, written notes, or comments through electronic forms such as video. Journal writing, drawings, or quizzes may help this, but it will be important for me to be mindful of the different abilities of students. Those students who do not read or write as well may not benefit so much from a rubric that requires writing.   In my intensive sessions with students where I am allotted more one to one time with the students, journaling has been very useful in identifying criteria and individual assessment criteria.  

Another assessment tool that I find very useful is peer to peer assessment.   Not only does this enhance communication and collaboration in our environment, but it develops the higher-order of thinking and learning according to Bloom’s taxonomy (Theresa Purcell Cone, 2005).   

Having my learners’ perform for each other has been extremely fundamental in their progression.  They are able to assess each other and check with each other the level of their performance.  Although, we have not written out a definitive rubric for assessment criteria, our understanding and developed language together over the course of several weeks together most often proves to be enough time for us to have come to a shared understanding of criteria.  However, as I write now, I see the error in assuming that there is no need for a definite rubric.  

Self-assessment is used in my lessons so that the students can assess their own learning.  This is done through journaling and discussion. However, I wonder what other ways I can use for the students to assess themselves so they better understand the material.
Some questions that I ask to encourage self-assessment include:
1.    What did you learn today?
2.    What was most difficult for you when you learned the dance today?
3.    Did you learn something different about how to do this step?
4.    Did anything make you feel uncomfortable about dancing today? Why?
5.    Name one or two things you improved about the dance today?
According to Theresa Purcell Cone (2005), a dance portfolio is a like an album of learning that provides a collection images showing growth and learning over a period of time.  Often, parents ask me for feedback about their own children’s learning after they are released from our program.  I feel that my words never really articulate the growth and progress of the students when they are in my class.  However, if I only had some way to communicate to them in others way the leaps and bounds their child made in psychomotor, affective, and cognitive learning, I am sure they would have a much better understanding of the growth and learning that has taken place.  This has really inspired me to really take care and apply more thought into the variety of ways to assess learning and also record the progress.  My only concern is the time that it takes to mange this type of portfolio.   The children are already participating in an activity that carries extra time, rehearsals, and pressure.  We are learning for the potential to participate in a West End show?  In the future I will experiment with how I can properly use time constructively to develop a learning portfolio for my students so that all stakeholders can review and objectively assess the learning of these students over a period of time.  
It is clear that assessment in dance can be challenging to designn and facilitate. However, in order to be viewed as an important component to learning and propell curriculum, I must provide evidence of student learning.  By defining criteria and applying practival rubrics I will better help my learners to understand what I expect from them.  I already use reflection to assess my effectiveness as a teacher. I assess student learning by oral questioning, rubric systems, recording, peer assessment, and self – assessment.  Creating portfolios, using journals, drawing, and video will help me to keep track of learning, educate, and improve learning through assessment.  


Theresa Purcell Cone, S. L. C., 2005. Teaching Children Dance. 2 ed. Champaign(IL): Human Kinetics Association.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Healthier Dancer Conference

Empowering Dance Notes.pdf

This past Sunday I went to Healthier Dancers’ Conference hosted by One Dance UK.  It was an exciting experience for me to be gathered with other dance teachers, choreographers, and experts who were concerned with the well-being and mental health of dancers.  

Throughout Sunday’s conferences, we heard about the importance of mental health to career and wellbeing and about the need to improve access to psychological care.

Some of the speakers I enjoyed included -

Fiona Macbeth, Integrative Psychotherapist
Dr. Irina Roncaglia, Chartered Practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist
Dr. Nicoletta Lekka, Consultant in General Adult Psychiatry
Georgia Cooper, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, Northern School of Contemporary Dance

According to Fiona Macbeth, Integrative Psychotherapist, some helpful ways to improve mental health while dancing professionally including 

- Maintaining core beliefs
- Good network
- Staying true to one’s own vaues
- Self-care
- Balancing (taking time when necessary or needed for one’s own self and space)
- Self-soothing techniques – Visualization, Yoga, Inner techniques – there is an app called “headspace” that was mentioned

Sometimes it is just important to bring down the stress just a little bit and this makes all the difference

According to Dr. Irina Roncaglia, Chartered Practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist

- it is important for the dancer to understand what is going on
- what has caused this ‘not coping’ behavior
- what are the triggers?
- Can I reframe my thinking?

This workshop was applicable to my research topic which will explore psychology in dance and specifically how to optimise performance.  A private conversation with Erin Sanchez and Dr. Irina Roncaglia were insightful and were helpful in positioning me on a path in my research project.  I have attached some transcribed notes and pictures based on a three hour long practical and theoretically based seminar on Empowering Dancers.

Sunday, 3 December 2017


I had an aha moment during the discussion today, because I was able to see how there were no separate topics, identities, or discussions happening.  Every topic mentioned was connected to another.  I am beginning to understand that embodiment - linking this entire experience together with how it is lived, how we understand it - our knowledge does not exist separately as only a thought, but is experienced and lived as well.  Isn't this what an aha moment is?  Today our topics of discussion were

multiple professional identities
psychology of dance and the psycho-social elements
discipline - feedback and communication
and flavour, technique, belly dance

In today's Sunday discussion several topics were discussed and considered by those of us who were on the call.  We talked about multiple professional identities and the transition from being the dancer to the teacher.  Are they different - really - or is the dancer the teacher and the other way around.  We can certainly consider them separately, because there is the responsibility of focusing on the student. However, as a dancer one has the autonomy to get lost in oneself, dependent upon the dance setting.  Do we need to fix ourselves in these identities? Perhaps we can observe and accept them as they demonstrate themselves as we move from dancer to teacher to choreographer.

We also spoke about psychological process and how we think about our practice.  Are we empowering our students?  What baggage do we bring into the class?  Is this mental baggage or simply an understanding based on our own perception and the way we see the world and our dance practice?

Where does discipline fit into this and how do we communicate and provide feedback in the dance setting? How does this feedback change dependent upon the context.  Where does flavour, technique, and style affect us as dancers, teachers, and choreographers?


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Reflection on 1 October Skype Session

From what framework am I motivated? What cultural beliefs inform the way I learn, teach, and communicate with others?  How has it changed since I have returned to studying academically?

I teach how I do firstly, I think, because of the experiences that have shaped me as a person, but also as professional performer, and teacher.    I am definitely a very authoritarian teacher, and this is because of all the teaching styles I have learned best from as a dancer, this way seems to work.  Also, those teachers who influenced me and made the most impact in my life have had a very authoritative presence. Also, it seems to me to have been very teacher centred training.  I have always been an independent learner and thrive in this way.  However, I do understand and see the benefits of collaborative learning.  I would say that a fault of my own is that I gravitate toward wanting to lead in a collaborative setting rather than staying in my lane at times with repose to simply follow or lend a helping hand.  I appreciate a very structured environment, although my own lack of organisation and time management causes me fail at providing a very structured learning environment for others.  I often times stray off the subject at hand or go off in a completely different direction from what I originally plan in a lesson.  I believe that my older students find this to be quite frustrating, because they either become confused about the point of my deterence from the task at hand.  My young learners thrive with my authoritative way of dealing with them and the subject material and my ability to change direction encourages their own creativity as we explore together in learning.  I enjoying coaching as an authoritarian. However, I appreciate and grow from the feeling I get when I delegate and facilitate collaborative learning.  This type of learning takes pressure off of me to be responsible for all of the teaching and empowers my students and their own creativity.

I also understand that my teacher-centred approach is not the most effective for all of my students.  According to Howard Zhenhao in his Brief Review of Literature about the Spectrum of Teaching Styles states, “The increasing awareness of the constructionist nature of learning suggests that the teacher centered (versus) style of learning may be ineffective in maximizing student learning (Cothran and Kulinna, 2003) “

Culture, ability, gender, motivation, and purpose must all be considered when teaching, because  they certainly affect how we view and see the world.  Doesn’t how we see the world directly affect and influence how we take in information and process it?  Won’t some policies in school systems create anxiety rather than  encourage learner responsibility and participation?  Do differences in culture, gender, ability affect the motivation and purpose someone has when learning?  By making information relevant to personal subject matter, is  motivation to learn encouraged.  Is this a framework of Dewey's, for he did advocate that behaviour modification should be learner centred?  Also, independent learning results from experiences that are designed with open-mindedness and acceptance of the diversity in culture.  Doesn't social  involvement help learning. In this framework, more opportunities are certainly created for the learner.  As I explore these questions, I still have some confusion about how to provide for learners in the best way, provide as many opportunities in the best possible way by understanding important educational trends, and yet developing my own personal philosophy that will allow me to communicate, relate, connect, teach, and learn with learners in a way that is uniquely my own and is authentic rather than imitating some template of predecessors who have gone before me.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Module 1 Reflection

As I begin reading Module 2 Handbook, I will take Adesola's suggestion to reflect on the feedback I received for my Module 1 Areas of Learning and Review of Learning Essay.

areas of Learning:

AOL 1 Arts outreach programming and Management (was arts outreach and management)

AOL 2 Artistic development and self-mentoring (was Visionary Leadership Concepts)

The feedback I received was helpful for me to identify how my ideas are articulated in writing.  Although I enjoy writing descriptively, I lack some ability to explore and articulate my ideas  in a critical and evaluative way.

Your reflective essay is not as clear as your AOLs. You tend to tell the reader what the effect of something is without then explaining what that ‘thing’ is.

‘…it opens up new understanding to me about the work.’ – page 3 

In the example quote above what new understanding are you referring to? You do not tell us. This is a tendency to state something has happened but not explain what that means.

The learning I describe in my AOL's are not fully reflected in my Review of Learning. As I look back over the documents I submitted, I can clearly see this.

I felt disappointed at myself when I saw my feedback, because I felt that if I had given myself more time to write my "Review of Learning" (As Helen and Adesola suggested) then I may have been better able to articulate my understanding and learning from the AOL's.

I am currently looking at finding a writing short course that will Jamel me to explore ideas with synthesis, analysis, and critical evaluation. I have also been keeping more journal entries, and synthesizing my learning from the ISTD Level 6 Diploma.

I have grown as a practioner since module one. I allow learners to find answers for themseves much more in my teaching practice. Even while working with young beginning dancers and improvers, I ask them questions and allow them to develop further questions in so doing. They become much better at justifying why we are working toward certain tasks in the dance class.l Module One was helpful in my learning how to become reflective in my own practice as a teacher, dancer, entrepreneur, and performer. Although it can be frustrating trying to figure out and navigate what the module is about - and where and how my own learning has taken place; I am grateful for this experiential learning. Important for me in Module One was getting on with the tasks and finishing them. I found that I needed to let go of having to know if something was good enough or not and to get on with the tasks helped me to get more of a feeling of what the environment was like. Just Do It! I don't know exactly what I am thinking if for a topic - I am leaning toward - mindset, practice, psychology, and other combanitorial factors in dance technique and performance.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Feedback and Motivation (Reflection on May 7 Group Discussion)

What is feedback, and how much feedback are we allowed to give in our profession. How does hierarchy play a part in this? How has motivation changed over the last decade? What are students expecting? Expectation and Communication?

Successful people interact, engage, and influence others.

It seems that we crave feedback as a culture. For example, we have heart rate monitors and calorie counters on our I watches and other portable monitors. We get immediate notifications from our phones that include updates from the stock exchange, financial deposits and withdrawals, and news reports. Social media likes from facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram informs us of ‘likes’ about posts. Sometimes feedback can be awkward and uncomfortable, and I wonder if this is why I do not respond to tutor feedback on assignments.

I must admit my own need to be encouraged and/or told that I am doing the right thing. I must admit that I am not comfortable with the MAPP DTP Sunday discussions. I believe that these feelings are based on a need to be right, and to be told what the ‘correct’ answer is.

I grew up in two extreme environments.

In one of those environments, there was a complete lack or order or authority figures. Chaos forced autonomy and or independent choices were impulsive spur of the moment decisions made in the heat of the moment which ensured survival.

The other environment, was authoritatively tyrannical, with authority figures that begged for correctness, repressed emotion, and moral righteousness.

I thought that I appreciated the feedback, but I believe that I have often confused feedback with being accepted, or being told that what I am doing is ‘right’ or good. I thrive on measurable progress and correctness. I thrived in a school system based on a system a grading scale that rewarded memorization and right answers. Obviously, mathematics was a strong point.

What role does hierarchy play in feedback? In a situation where there is a hierarchy, a manager, teacher, leader, or boss will give feedback to those down the hierarchy based on the objectives or outcomes of the vision or perceived end goal. It never occurred to me that feedback goes both ways up and down ( or across if you will) from teacher to student.

Even now at such a late stage in my professional career and training (as I believe we never stop training), I sometimes seem aloof as I simply accept what the direction the director, choreographer, or conductor gives me while rehearsing or learning an artistic piece. It seems so absurd to me now, but I believe this is a major blind spot in my artistic growth. My inability to draw my own conclusions, based on the knowledge that I have about situations.

I am sure I have been able to do it in real life to solve problems. Aren’t we always evaluating the world around us to draw conclusions?
So what is my motivation? I am still exploring my motivation. The underlying motivation for many things that I do is to be right. Why? I am sure it stems from some inability to accept the indefiniteness of some things. Perhaps, it stems from a feeling of not being good enough. I know my motivation in performing certainly stems from the wonderful feeling of being applauded. However, the feeling of freely expressing myself is also a motivation for my choosing the performing arts profession. What is my motivation in teaching? I like to inspire others. I love the experience of exploring with others.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Deciding AOL'S by identifying specific achievements

Another way to develop some content about one specific idea I had about an area of learning, I reflected back on an arts education outreach project that I implemented in a charter school in 2010 called 'Yes, I Can! Arts Project'.

Following the format from our MAPP handbook I asked myself:

If I did this again how would I do it differently? Why?
How did I know what to do in this situation? Where did that learning
come from?
Why did I do this in a particular way? What would the consequences
be if I did it differently?
What went well, what went wrong and why?
Have I done this activity like this before? Why?

The following blog only demonstrates the exercise as it pertains to this particular title area of learning = Arts Project Development/Outreach and is represented in a style that includes notes and incomplete sentence structure

If I did this project again, how would I do it differently?

I would have begun the planning stages for the project much sooner. (For what reasons)
to gather more finances
to better plan finances and budgeting
to develop a more robust program

to have presented better the material in new and interesting ways for my students(that is syllabus preparation) for example, could we have added field trips, special master classes with master teachers, and/or concerts

for more preparation in gathering specific outcomes/ measurable outcomes ~ I could have been more organised with measuring fitness outcomes and gathering evidence about grades and behaviour beforehand to see and research the effects of the arts education on performance in other core subjects, specifically to gather more funding for following years

How did I know what to do in this situation?

I used templates of other grants and looked back over programs and modelled my behaviour from them. I used my ability to motivate to get action oriented tasks and just went at carrying out steps to the best of my ability to while using my mentors and other more advanced teachers to steer me and guide me along the way.

The learning came from having carried out projects before in longer years in school and for having been able to execute in previous years to the get the encouragement from others. College years and in high school starting up organisations and events.

Why did I do this in a particular way?

I did not anticipate any challenges because I had no prior experience to inform any fear or hesitation. Because I was familiar with the environment, city, location, and people, I understood the need for arts education, dance, and specifically sought to incorporate my goals and objectives for the program with what was a national health crisis ...obesity, specifically in youth.... so I was able to incorporate what my goals were an outcome that would be beneficial for my community....
I then targeted black children in poor communities, because this is where the education was needed, and also it was a context that was an important and passionate place for me.

Because my own life had been positively affected by arts educational programs, I carried out most tasks and the creating of the program with passion and excitement, because it was a subject that was dear to my heart. Also, it was a topic and a project that I could communicate effectively about because of my professional experience and the number of years that I had been involved with dance. I was compelled and motivated to do all the research that I felt was necessary at the time. I skied mentor and other people I felt had treated experience about the necessary steps to initiate the project, and I realised and utilised their feedback to navigate in the appropriate way. I do have the ability to humble myself and seek out teachers to learn what is necessary to accomplish certain tasks. I learned this ability to seek out teachers from experience and adapt my understanding to excel as a child. Growing up in a dysfunctional household where my parents were not present, it was necessary for me to care for my three younger brothers. I did not know how to appropriately provide for them, of course, as I was only seven years old, but I used my ability to learn quickly from situations and others for survival and I cared for them in the best way that I could.

What would be the consequences of doing certain things differently during the initiation of this project?

The positive outcomes of having planned more would have been that I had more time in which to plan, budget, and organise the program. I feel that I would have developed more specific and achievable outcomes associated with fitness and measuring the effects of the program and the correlation to CORE subjects and behaviour in the classroom. Continuing the program through to completion might have ensured that the program would have continued to other schools.

What went well?

Press around the event
I received a Leadership Award from my community for the event
There was great publicity because of my networking and associations at the time
Communication between mentors, people involved with the program and myself

Because of my passion, connections in the community, participation in events and fundraisers, and my going out to share information about the project and networking, news about the program spread rapidly and it was well received.

What went wrong, and why?
Outcomes were not measured, because I did not over see the project through to completion. Teacher commitment could have been better. The students reception of the program would have been better received if I had begun planning in much earlier stages of the program.

Making a mind map to find learning

In an earlier blog, I discussed brainstorming to develop Areas of Learning.

For example, the following list is only an area of learning developed from this exercise.

Arts Projects Development/Outreach

music, theatre, and dance syllabuses to encourage learning
using the arts to isolate the effects of growing up in an urban environment
the use of Arts Projects to encourage and motivate young people
organisation, and business techniques used in creating and organising projects
Community Collaboration

I love and like initiating things not necessarily following them through to completion, so need to master the art of following things through

I am action-oriented, and make decisions quickly, with extraordinary talents for getting things started

In order to develop more content from an area of learning, I have decided to make a mindmap using the title Arts Projects Development/Outreach.

Learning can then be identified from the mindmap. In the above example, main ideas have been discovered as having contributed the area of learning 'arts project development/outreach'

So, there are obviously a number key activities that helped me to develop the learning in this title area. Some of the starting points include

1. Instructor for Children's Center for Dance Education (CCDE)
2. Teaching Ballet

This is a starting point for which the learning begun to take place with regard to 'arts project development/outreach'

Subsequent stages of the learning for this title include

3. Learning and motivation for different aged youth AND the research associated with measuring this learning with outcomes
4. Planning

As you can see, even further offshoots contribute as key points for learning such as...

5. Finding funding which can be done through grant writing. Although meetings w/ board members, principles, and proposals are seen as a separate branch, they may help in securing funds for the program.

As we look at the different points, it becomes clear that other areas of learning may link or overlap. According to our module and learning guide "You may find it helpful to think of these as key learning points or learning outcomes, because they express specific and measurable outcomes which can be supported by specific evidence."

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Areas of Learning Content

In order to develop a provisional list of AOL titles, I reviewed and updated my CV. I also jotted down tasks, roles, and responsibilities, and job descriptions for some of the jobs that I had listed. I also spent a great deal of time reflecting on my past events and projects throughout my day and over the course of my professional career. After a phone meeting with Adesola, I gained a better understanding of the purpose of the first module, more specifically that the point of all of these excercises was to come to what we consider to be our Area's of Learning. After realising that the AOL is my end goal, I completed the following tasks to arrive an some AOL content.

Step 1 AOL Brainstorm

Brainstorming AOL's was a very useful excercise.


We are interested in what you have learnt, how you learnt it and the
consequences of your learning

Management and Leadership
leading others and managing
communication skills
the use of personal development
motivation and initiative
education and continued education
Excellent people skills
Excellent ability to see an immediate problem and quickly devise a solution
empowering others to create
skills of observation have helped me to become very good at correctly assessing other peoples´ perspectives or motives
I use this knowledge to my advantage while interacting with people, and I also have and use a special ability to react quickly and effectively to an immediate need, such as in an emergency or crisis situation. For example, people have been especially surprised at my ability to remain calm stand in for a number of featured roles at the last minute.
I enjoy new experiences and dealing with people, and dislike being confined in regimented environments.
I also want to see immediate results for my work, and don´t like dealing with a lot of high-level theory. I would just rather be action oriented.
I have been told also that I have the ability to motivate others to excitement.

Arts Projects Development
music, theatre, and dance syllabuses to encourage learning
using the arts to isolate the effects of growing up in an urban environment
the use of Arts Projects to encourage and motivate young people
organisation, and business techniques used in creating and organising projects
Community Collaboration
Love and like initiating things not necessarily following them through to completion, so need to master the art of following things through.
I am action-oriented, and make decisions quickly, with extraordinary talents for getting things started

Live in the present
west end
american professional theatre
concert dance
classical ballet company
filming and artistic creativity
Do not like abstract theory without a practical application
Like immediate results for their work
Fast-paced and energetic

Dance Performance
concert dance
classical ballet technique
contemporary dance
performance technique
rehearsal processes
injury prevention
skill level and anatomy
finding an identity and truth in performance and in character’s and what is that truth?

Music Performance
music theory
classical vocal techniques
multidisciplinary genres of music
the use of music in theatre and dance

Theatre Performance and Preparation
professional classical techniques
acting skills
musical theatre

Teaching Dance and Musical Theatre Performance
teaching techniques to young people
creating syllabus’s
differences in adult education and preparation for teaching
leadership and organisation
mentoring and management
Rarely working from a plan you like to make things up as they go
Highly observant, with an excellent memory for details

This is a simple excercise that can be done in a very little amount of time. Brainstorming is helpful, because I can arrive at a number of ideas without the hindrance of self editing. From this provisional list/brainstorm, I will follow more excercises to develop and shape the content of AOL's.

Eventually, I will need to consider the following questions?

Does a certain AOL link or overlap in another learning outcome?
Are there specific measurable outcomes associated with any of these topics?
Can I provide evidence of these outcomes?
How will I alllocate my evidence, and to which specific learning outcome will I emphasise in any one area as I develop these AOL's?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Reflection and Learning

I have recently been given the responsibility of Kids Captain for Motown The Musical Part of my duties is to teach young performers choreography routines from the show. I teach new cast members and also those who are seen to have the possible potential to play the role of young Michael Jackson in the show. I have begun to keep a reflective journal of my "MJ Camp" sessions (for potential youth cast members) and rehearsals for current young performers who are already cast in the role of young Michael Jackson. Below is an entry from my journal which follows a generic format as instructed by the Module One Handbook -

According to section 2.2 on page 25 from Model One Handbook for Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University

"For reflection to be effective it needs to be ‘critical’, which means looking at your own experiences, actions and emotions with a critical eye and thinking about the following question:

What did I do?

Today I taught one of my students the "audition scene", reviewed the "bows" from the show and " The Jackson 5 Medley". I began the rehearsal with a 15 vocal and physical warm-up which consisted of singing along to an instrumental track of vocalises... while we stretched and physically warmed up while singing. We sang and danced through the numbers one time through, then I gave notes and we cleaned followed by another sing and run through.

How did I feel at the time?

The boys were a bit timid and unsure of exactly what was happening but understood the exercises soon enough. I felt the boys were not quite sure how to approach the rehearsals with me at first. They soon realised the intensity that was necessary coming into the rehearsal. I found that the sense of focus is a. it lost.
I am currently the Kids Captain for Motown The Musical currently playing in the West End

What was the impact or effect of my actions and behaviour?

The boys are very impressive and amenable. They are flexible and unless they are used to working a certain way then they can learn in a myriad of settings. My ability to really encourage them and make them laugh is very helpful in their understanding of the material. Also, I find that at young age children will often work hard and work well so that they impress the authority figure or the one teaching. My experience has shown that there are exceptions to this

What could I have done differently?

My running of the rehearsal can be a bit sporadic and unstructured. That being said, I feel that as long as I have enough time to work through the numbers as I should then the rehearsals go very well. However, I should be more structured in my approach, because it is important in planning to achieve certain and specific objectives.

What did other people think about what I did?

The gentlemen were a bit timid and unsure of exactly what was happening but understood the exercises soon enough. I felt the boys were not quite sure how to approach the rehearsals with me at first. They soon realised the intensity that was necessary coming into the rehearsal. I found that the sense of focus is a. it lost.

The chaperone feels that I was hard on them a d really pushed them, which is promising. Also, the assistant music director's feedback was encouraging as he pointed out that I 'have a good way with the kids'.

What will I do differently next time?

I believe that I will go to the next rehearsal with a more rigid format and structure with a certain time allotment for the material that I would like to cover. I will see how this works. Also, being in the room sooner, and being ready to begin the vocal warmup as soon as possible is important for me. Lastly, I will play the vocal warmup on the piano.

What have I learnt about myself and others and what knowledge, skills and insights have I gained?

I have learned that others see me as proactive and are quite willing to give me certain responsibilities easily when I allow myself to be open to saying yes. I would like to increase my ability to work with children in an effective way and develop the best skills and tools for learning. I have a natural ability to be flexible and adjust my teaching methods to ensure others are learning properly, but a formal structure can be very beneficial in helping the students to learn quickly.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

MAPP DTP Beginnings

Today, I had a Skype call with some students of the Middlesex MA Professional Practice in Dance Technique Pedagogy Course. I approached the skype meeting with some questions for which I hoped Adesola and Helen, our course instructors, would provide definitive answers.

The meeting proved to be more of a discussion, and instead of getting answers to my questions by our advisors, we were provided more questions and ideas to consider. Some of those questions where...

"Where do we draw the line between personal and professional practice in regard to reviewing learning experience?"

"How can we communicate this effectively in academic writing?"

"What is truth?"

"What is ethics?"

According to Google Search, ethics is defined as moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity. It seems to me, though, that I have been considering ethics from a limited understanding. If I consider only ethics from a moral perspective, then my experience is affected from an understanding of right and wrong. For example, to achieve a certain movement with the body is simply that..."to achieve a certain movement with the body", This is a conceptual understanding. But what is the movement? Is the movement right? Is the movement wrong? This is dependent upon the theory from which the movement is being perceived. So, truth or the representation of truth can be argued dependent upon the viewer (the one perceiving) and the projection (the object being perceived).

"Personal" reflection in my "professional" practice will help me to identify knowledge and what I have gained from this knowledge. How do I interpret this knowledge? How does what I already know affect my understanding? How do the actions of others affect how I define myself and my practice?

I know that my practice has already been affected by the introduction into this course and will continue to be affected. The formative assessment portion of the course in the form of reflective tasks, blogs, participation in the MAPP Discussion Group, and observation and feedback within my own practice uses Kolb's Learning Cycle to open up a deeper understanding into our professional experience. In other words, By using reflective observation, I can conclude and learn from the experience. Also, by recalling professional experiences, I can actively plan and try out what I have learned; thereby turning entering again the concrete experience.

I suspect that my practice will greatly benefit from applying the tasks, tools, and theories that I am beginning to explore in the MA Professional Practice in Dance Technique Pedagogy.

A Reflection on Goal Setting, Confidence, and Persistence to Reach A Goal

I am fascinated with the ideas around positive psychology and the ability of our mind to affect our personal lives and professional practice, so I share the following reflection as an introduction and insight into this aspect of my nature.

I moved to the United Kingdom in December 2012 to the chagrin of many friends and family members to “make a new start”. I met the love of my life while employed as a dancer on a cruise ship contract. Since I’d only experienced mild success as a dancer, singer, and actor in America, I thought why not. I felt I had nothing to lose.

I had to follow my heart, and I felt an extreme sense of wonderment and adventure was waiting for me in London. There was something refreshing about leaving all I had ever known. I wanted to create a new life for myself. Everything felt fresh, and I had this sense that anything was possible for me.

I had not properly planned myself for the financial, emotional, and mental struggle I was going to encounter by starting over again in this way, but it was the best decision I have ever made. I have experienced more abundance, joy, professional fulfilment, and personal accomplishment than the ten years previous and I owe it to goal setting, self-belief, and persistence.

Goal Setting

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. – Ben Stein (Canfield, 2005, 2015 p. 135)

I had no clue what I wanted out of life. Many people don’t dream because they forget. Sometimes programming from childhood causes us to place our needs on the backburner. We become numb as we replay over and again in our minds, “Stop being so selfish!” “You don’t feel that way!” “Stop crying!” “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” “You are always thinking about yourself.” In the name of being sensible, we forget to dream. It is no wonder why if you ask some teenagers what they want out of life you get a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders (Canfield, 2005, 2015, p. 135 -138)!

One of the first books I read while I was auditioning in London was Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. In the 1920’s, Hill set out to uncover, define, and present to others the keys to success. In his search, he interviewed 500 of the richest men in America. Some of the men he interviewed included F. W. Woolworth, Theodore Roosevelt, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Teddy Roosevelt, John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field, and Henry Ford. He disseminated the research and set it forth in Think and Grow Rich. I suggest this book to anyone who desires massive success in whatever profession you have chosen. I have paraphrased the process of goal setting as I learned them according to Hill. I have summarised them in the following and included an example of one of my personal goals.
Determine in detail what you want. I want to perform in West End Show.

Determine what you will do to get what it is that you want (without interfering with the rights of others). Attend every audition my agent books for me. Attend every audition possible. Stop smoking.

Give it an exact date: By the end of the year, December 31, 2015, book a West End gig.

Develop a plan for getting what you want: For instance, take class whenever possible. Sing and practice every day my repertoire so I am ready.

Write it down as an affirmation (happening now) and read it aloud every day to keep it in the forefront of your mind. This helps with belief. I am joyfully working in the West End.

My experience with goal setting has been useful in creating momentum in my professional career. In January of 2015, following the suggestion of Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, I wrote down fifty life goals from the following areas of my life:



Recreation and Free Time

Physical Fitness & Health

Relationships With Family & Friends

Personal Goals (learning, spiritual growth, personal achievements)
Community Service, Contribution & Legacy
(Canfield, 2005, 2015)

I have achieved 10 of the 50 the last time I checked. I suspect, though, that I will become better at achieving my goals as I learn and grow. Also, my list will undoubtedly expand as I evolve. In our school training and at our jobs we are provided with curriculums, guides, aims, and objectives. In plays we have scripts. Why not have a curriculum and guide for your life? Write a script for the star player, YOU?


“Confidence is the bottom line. The business of acting is actually relatively simple – anybody could do it. The business of making a living as an actor is the difficult part. Being able to keep your head above water requires a type of operation that is beyond the work itself.” – Bill Patterson (Barnett, 2014 p. 45)

Auditioning; singing to a panel of menacing glares; dancing in a room of strangers; screen-testing – not to mention getting over your nerves to perform opening night. Every aspect of this profession takes self-belief and confidence. To succeed at auditions, you must believe in yourself. Matthew Colthart, currently a swing in Beautiful - The Carol King Musical (Aldwych Theatre) gives the following advice about confidence before an audition. “Remember the people on the panels want you to do well! They want you to solve their problems and be the right person for the role! It’s not an exam. [It’s not a test!] It’s an interview, a meeting.”
Simone Mistry-Palmer, currently resident choreographer of Motown The Musical (Shaftesbury 2016), believes that preparation and mindset are the keys to being able to maintain confidence and self-belief. A key is remembering that none of us are meant to be carbon copies. Therefore, we must always bring our energy and to the roles, we play, especially as a cover. “Just say to yourself, ‘You are great,’ and you deserve the job; then you will be calm and not too nervous. The job will not be too big for you.”

Once I developed a sense of self-belief, I started getting more opportunities. Self- doubt is a perpetuating cycle. For example, there have been times in the past when I have felt inferior and undeserving of a part. As soon as I walk through the door to audition, everything about me oozed doubt and unbelief. The panel can feel this energy, and if you do not believe in yourself, neither will they – most of the time. There are exceptions to every rule, and on the odd occasion, I have been forgiven. I have even had brief pep talks from directors and casting agents. This encouragement is very rare, and eventually, I have had to muster enough confidence to get myself further along in the process. No one is going to give you a pep talk at your fifth or sixth and final call back for a show.

“Succeeding in auditions is all about believing in yourself. I had a mad, insane belief in myself when I came into the business. I felt I had something unique: I thought, ‘Well if you don’t want me, you’re not worth working with.’ That’s the attitude you’ve got to go in with. If you believe you have a unique talent, you have, basically: unless you’re completely potty. And even then, if you believe it, it’s there.-Julie Walters (Barnett, 2014, p. 44) You can get very far with confidence. I am not simplifying success to self-belief. I know that success in this industry takes much more than self-belief, but it is my firm belief that trust in your own ability is the magic ingredient to success.


I’ve gotten a lot of “No’s” over the years. In the performing arts industry, you better get ready to be told no. Rejection is part of the profession. Rejection moulds those who have staying power into strong characters. If you can recover from missing the many opportunities that will inevitably pass you by, you can succeed in this business. A small part of it is sheer probability. The more directors you can get in front of, the closer you are to getting a yes…eventually…hopefully. And still then there is no guarantee. It all comes down to how much you want it. If you want it, you will keep on, and if you do not want it, then you will give up. If I did not want it, then I would have gone on to do something else. I tried. I have given up more times than I care to share. Ha ha ha! I am laughing now because I used to give up after every audition. Mainly, in the early days. If you find yourself quitting often, I suggest burning your bridges so that you have nowhere else to retreat. Then, and only then will you develop the strength of a true warrior. By moving to London, I had no other prospects, no other family besides my husband (and he wasn’t going to let me quit). I had no friends to complain to or nurse my wounds. I found solace in positive self-help and success books and audio. There are so many other factors that go into whether or not you land a role. You may too fat, too thin, not tall enough, not muscular enough; or there may be a hundred more different reasons you do not get the part. If you let it affect you personally, forever, then you are doomed to be an emotional wreck. You may have been the best in your school back at home, but once you come to play in the ‘big leagues’, every other person who is in that room dancing with you was the best in their school. “There’s a philosophical nature to acting. My mother used to say, ‘What’s for you will not go by you.’ It’s a phrase to keep in mind when you don’t get a job. –Brian Cox (Barnett, 2014)


Goal setting, confidence, and persistence will keep you going. These three tools will help you get from where you are to where you want to be. It is important to remember to stay inspired, grateful, and positive. Ambition will never allow you to be content with where you are. Desire is born from wanting to expand and grow. When you reach your goals, the artist in you will become restless and seek new ways of expression. Ambition is great! Restlessness can because for growth. Be grateful for the jobs when you get them, and remember to BE KIND!. “Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and indulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.” – Rick Pitino (Brainy Quote, 2015)

Please, comment below for any questions you may have. Like my ">Facebook Page or message me for any questions, suggestions, or just to connect. All the best to you in this life, and I pray you overcome fears, self-doubt and limiting behaviours to tap into your infinite potential for peak performance and exceptional success! Yes, you can!