As I started to prepare for the new school year, I was reminded of my usual first lesson on space for all of my students. While there is nothing usual about the start of this school year, I am still trying to find ways to make their experience and mine fun and engaging.
Students will be learning remotely while teachers are still trying to figure out how to keep our students engaged. Dance educators or any arts educator for that matter, are especially taxed as the arts thrive on the interactions of our students. As we strive to build relationships and community in our classes, the arts serve as a means of humanizing our students. Our lessons go beyond the standards as we seek to touch the hearts of our students. We are creating lessons that address the standards and at the same time address the chaos we are experiencing in these challenging times. If we allow ourselves to be open and honest, creativity will emerge.
My first lesson on space is even more important now. It is a lesson I believe needs to be taught in every classroom, not just the dance class. Our personal space, our kinesphere, or our bubble is the space that our bodies take up. All of the other space is what is considered general space. In order for anyone to harm you, they must first disrespect your space. Fights and wars often are caused by a disrespect of space. When someone comes into a space where they are not wanted, tensions rise. When we sit on a bus or subway and someone we do not know, comes and sits close to us, even though there are plenty of other seats available, we know instinctively that something is wrong. Social distancing is a way of respecting space, but it goes against human nature to distance ourselves from those we know and care about.
As I prepare my physical space this year, I am consciously aware of the restrictions some of my students will face in trying to establish their own space to dance. Although it will be challenging, I am looking forward to embarking on this last leg of my K-8 journey and then to see what’s next. Today, I dance because is continues to humanize me. I respect my space and the space of others. Let’s all take a page out of the dance standards and respect each other’s space.