This past month, a group of students came to me with an idea of performing a Bollywood dance in our May assembly. I personally know nothing about Bollywood dancing, therefore I was a little nervous about being the staff member helping the girls with their dance. I quickly realized that they needed me as a facilitator and not as a leader of this group.
I didn’t find the song for the performance, the students did. I did not make up the moves, the students did. I did not arrange the times for practice, the students coordinated with me to organize themselves. They were the ones who recognized when they needed an extra practice outside of school and met at one of the dancer’s homes. They led the practices and I was there to ask probing questions to help them achieve their goal. Some of the questions that I asked were: “What other formation could we use here?”, “Have we given everyone a chance to be at the front?” and “Does that part of the dance highlight the change in music?”
Giving the students an opportunity to do the leading worked on some of the very important skills in 21st century learning. They problem solved the issues with dance formation and musical timing. They also worked through personality conflicts and took turns leading and following. My job was to create an environment where their creativity could happen.
It is hard as teachers to take a step back sometimes and let our students do the leading. We are used to planning and preparing lessons all day long. However, the skills that our students learn are skills that they will use for the rest of their life.
So the next time a student comes to you and says we want to lead a Bollywood dance or Peruvian dance or Taiko drumming or recorder consort club, don’t hesitate to say “Sure, how can I help you do that?”