Straddle Stretch Forever

In an effort to keep my digital content focused on what my audience wants to see and to encourage myself to keep to routines that make me feel great physically, I’ll be focusing on stretching for a while!

When it comes to stretching, you should know that I like to keep it simple. There are a few stretches that I’ve been doing since childhood that still serve me well. One of these is the straddle stretch. This is my go-to stretch when I’m at home and feeling a bit antsy in the evening or after I’ve just entered a dance class and want to stake my claim to some space in the studio (typically a place at the barre where I can see myself dancing from more than 1 angle, or where I’m at the end so I can follow someone if needed, then challenge myself and use my good ol’ memory skills the rest of the time.)

To perform a straddle stretch, sit down on the floor in an open space, with your legs spread apart so that you can feel a stretch in your inner thigh. Be sure that your knees are facing up toward the ceiling and not rolling inward.

While sitting in the straddle stretch position, I like to point and flex my feet, focusing especially on holding the flexed position so that I get a good stretch behind my knees.

I also like to reach my arms forward, to deepen the stretch of my inner thighs. I then relax my head and neck and hold that position for several seconds.

To focus on one leg at a time, I like to tilt my torso all the way to one side, either touching the side of my torso to my leg or by lifting my arms (into a ballet high fifth position) and twisting my torso so that my chest goes toward my knee.

Should we do a straddle stretch every day for the next week?

Let’s do it.

Saumirah

Rest is important, but . . .

Rest is important, but so is doing the work.

Even though I’m privileged enough to live a creative life (“privileged” meaning: only working a full-time job if I feel like it, continuing to pay a car note on an Audi when I could get around just as easily in a paid-for something else, pouring money into multiple business ventures, getting a doctorate in education for fun…), I absolutely don’t feel like working every single day.

While I’m dying to work on my personal projects most days of the week, that’s often because I know I simply won’t have the time or the energy to work on what I’m passionate about later in the day, tomorrow, or next week. (I am often fighting my body to avoid falling asleep before 10:00 pm each night, and I usually feel pretty done with working by late afternoon….)

Do I actually FEEL like writing every day, dancing every day, or creating digital content for my businesses every day? Definitely not. Do I thrive from a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and productivity? Definitely do. So, that helps. But even that’s often not enough to cause me to want to do the work.

What really, really does it for me is reminding myself that I owe it to me. I owe it to my present self and to my future self to give it my all, to not waste my talents, and to work as hard as I possibly can each day to be the person that I want to be. I owe it to myself to go after my dreams like there’s no tomorrow. And, most importantly, I owe it to myself to commit to my practice of doing the work every day.

Cheers to doing the work that’s good for us, even when we don’t feel like it!

Saumirah

Dance Classroom Management: Double Plan

Happy Monday, Dance Friends!

Today’s dance classroom management tip, which comes from the book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (paid link) is called Double Plan. To Double Plan is to plan both what you–the teacher–and the students will be doing at each point in class when you are writing out your lessons.

The text goes into detail about using a graphic organizer packet to guide the lesson and check for understanding in a traditional classroom setting. As a dance educator coach, I want to focus most on the idea of a T-chart that is mentioned. Using a T-chart lesson plan (i.e., get out a blank piece of paper and draw a huge T, so that there is a line going down the middle, creating two columns, and so that the top of the capital letter T allows you to label each column) allows us to write side-by-side what the students will be doing while we are saying or doing what we plan to do.

“It’s natural for teachers to write lessons that focus on what they will be doing: which key points they will cover, questions they will ask, activities that will facilitate, work they will assign, and so forth. Still, the most effective teachers I know Double Plan, that is, they plan at least as carefully what their students will be doing each step of the way” (p. 143).

Though not written in a T-chart style, you can see simple examples of Double Planning in the Dance Daze® Lesson Plans for Dance With Me and Ballet and Tap over at DanceEdStartup.com.

According to the text, “Double Planning forces you to consider how you will at each step hold students accountable for the content and quality of their work” (p. 149). I believe that Double Planning forces educators to consider the desired behavior that they want or expect during each part of their lesson.

For example, in your dance class, should students be copying your movements while you explain or should they be standing respectfully and observing as you demonstrate? If students will have props, how should they hold their props and when will they pick up their props? What should the rest of the class do while you are giving corrections to one student?

During my teaching residency program and during my years of working as a classroom teacher, I was taught and came to deeply understand that we must teach our students everything we want them to do. We should never assume that our students already know how we want them to behave or what we want them to understand unless we have explicitly taught them in many different ways, reviewed our expectations, and practiced desired behavior many times over the course of a session of classes or a dance year.

The next time you plan your dance lesson, remember to Double Plan so that you can be better prepared for a successful lesson with students behaving the way you want them to behave!

Creativity Is Definitely A Habit

So does it seem like I’m super into everything related to Dance Daze, Inc., Dance Daze in Schools, and, my newest, Dance Ed Startup? Well, that’s because I am.

But does that mean I like doing every single thing associated with running those businesses and projects? Absolutely not.

Earlier today, I was thinking about a comment from my very first mentor teacher when I was in an intensive teacher training program, credentialing program, and accelerated Master of Arts degree program to become an effective classroom teacher in one year. I must have asked her something like, “What do you not like about being a teacher?” I remember her response to this day–it struck me because I felt like she was either lying through her teeth or delusional. She said, “I like everything about this job.” I simply couldn’t believe her. In fact, I still don’t.

When people talk about their “life’s work” or “walking in their purpose” or “doing what they love” and all that sort of stuff… YES. I 100% GET THAT. Those are ALL the feels I get from running my dance organizations. But, I wasn’t raised to lie. And I’m not in denial. I know what lights me up and what things I completely avoid. (I even know exactly why I’ve gotten behind on this blog… It’s because I hate editing my podcast transcripts. Even though I completely love having a podcast, getting my voice out into the world, developing new skills like audio editing and transcribing audio that I’ve never previously had to do at any j-o-b I’ve ever had… But I still hardcore procrastinated on doing my last two transcripts, which got me completely off track with my little blog pattern I’ve been working on keeping up here.)

All of the above to say: I think I’m a super creative person who is lit up by the work that I do for my businesses. But, if I didn’t make myself do some of the stuff, it would simply never get done.

For example, I love teaching dance. I love having spending time creating learning objectives, structuring activities, challenging my students, and creating incredible experiences through the medium of movement in my classes. I love when parents and other family members enjoy the experience too. It all makes me feel like I’m a super awesome person who is having fun, getting paid, and helping other people have fun and enjoy watching their kids develop into awesome people because of their experiences in dance education.

HOWEVER, I almost always wait until the last minute to plan my classes. The “artsy” part of me feels like it is part of my process to “get inspired” at the last minute then rush to create well-executed masterpieces.

But what did I tell you in my last blog? I totally believe that a failure to plan is a plan for failure.

So how do I satisfy the super prepared and always 10 steps ahead part of me with the wait-until-the-absolute-last-minute-to-produce-your-best-work part of me when it comes to planning dance classes?

I’ve created a habit.

I give myself the “thrill” of planning my classes at the last minute by waiting until the morning of my classes to plan them. But I stay 10 steps ahead by giving myself like 5 hours to do the planning and get to the studio.

That’s right. Most mornings that I’m teaching, I’m up by about 5:30 am to plan my classes for the day.

Crazy right? Probably. (I’ve even gotten up that early on Saturday mornings after being up after midnight. But if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I can function like a somewhat normal–if not hyper-cranky and hyper-emotional–human on just 5 hours of sleep. And I can fake it on less than 5 hours of sleep. So there’s that.)

So, in my opinion, am I still being creative? Absolutely.

And, am I still planning ahead? Probably not as much as the next gal, but I’ve never been one to do things in a typical way anyway.