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My Educational Philosophy

My name is Laura de la Garza Noble. I am a dancer, choreographer, dance educator, and dance advocate--but most importantly, I am a student advocate. I believe in “dance for everyone, and every ONE” given that dance has benefits for all. Dance is a tool to better understand oneself, one's limitations, and how to overcome them by using one's physical, mental and emotional capacities. These understandings can be applied to excel in everything and anything else. I vigorously trust in the power dance has to be a conduit to learn new knowledge and reinforce existing knowledge in dance and other subject areas. As a dance educator, I believe it is my duty to create interdisciplinary activities in the classroom which will help students better understand a variety of topics.


Dance has huge potential to educate a person as a whole. Dance teaches students to work better with others, to be ready for the unexpected, to think on their feet, to listen to their bodies, to understand themselves better, to be aware of their surroundings, to be sensitive to what is unsaid, and so much more. All of these things are vital lessons for everyone who wants to be a respectful and contributing member of society. These skills develop both the person and the performer. All of these skills are vital to me as an educator. I believe that these are the most important elements of dance, and it is these skills which make me say: “Dance Education benefits all”. I want to show students that dance can help them become better at anything they wish to accomplish in the future.

My main goal as a Dance Educator is for students to develop love, respect, and understanding of and for themselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Dance is a vehicle for achieving this.  As a movement practice, dance enables students to understand the science, mechanics, and intricacies of their bodies. As an art form, dance develops self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision-making skills which encompass the Social-Emotional Learning framework. Furthermore, my approach to Dance Education is deeply rooted in a Social Justice Framework through identity building and understanding, diversity celebration, justice exploration, and its action-oriented nature. All of these characteristics are essential to my view of student-centered learning, focusing the material and teaching styles and methods on the people, not the dance style. I believe in guiding students to finding their own voice.


My understanding of educational theories such as Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs informs my approach to student-centered teaching. I believe addressing multiple intelligences is vital in education given that all students are different.  It is a teacher’s duty to make sure all their students learn--no matter what their way of learning or understanding may be. Dance can allow students to bridge their understanding of multiple disciplines by embodying the knowledge in addition to seeing and reading about it. In terms of Maslow’s theory, I believe in the need to cater to students’ basic needs before anything else. I realize the importance of students feeling comfortable before there can be any learning. I firmly strive for the safest learning environment in the dance classroom. It is unfair to ask students to remember and learn when their most basic needs are not being met. In addition to educational theories, I utilize human development and motor development theories to inform my curriculum and teaching in order to meet students’ needs in a productive, efficient, and, most importantly, healthy manner. 


I want students to respect me but understand that for this to happen, as well as for learning to be nurtured, they must see, without a doubt, that I respect them. Students in my classroom are welcome to be whoever they are that day at that time. I believe in creating a classroom culture with my students and not imposing one on them. There are multiple things I am the expert in, but there are also multiple things where the students are the experts, and it is important to respect this fact. I do not believe I am all-knowing, and I think that the more I allow my students to teach me, the more they will allow me to teach them. I want my students to see my classroom as a place where they can push boundaries because this is where real learning resides.

 

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