My interest in teaching began when I was sixteen, helping out at my hometown studio in Solano County. I enjoyed watching my students progress and being a part of their journey, specifically watching them develop motor skills that gave them confidence in other areas of their life. I did not know that I would continue to teach for the next twelve years. Over time, my reasons for teaching changed as I matured and grew into adulthood. The impact I desired to make was much larger than aiding students through their physical goals. I realized that as an educator, I have the privilege of mentoring the next generation of leaders and artmakers. My growth as an educator is contingent on my communication with my students and campus community, and my openness to evolving.
My goal as an educator is to cultivate a communal space where students can understand who they are as intellectuals, artists, and community members. I believe students thrive in environments where process is centered over product. I’m interested in how my students arrive at their conclusions and how they communicate their ideas with their peers. I’ve found incorporating activities such as brainwriting and concept mapping useful in fostering student connectedness. Students are able to individually formulate their ideas while also developing interpersonal skills. I believe there are numerous entry points to creating art, and I cherish the ability to experiment and play. It is often our shared experiences that influence how we enter our creative union. I find joy in cultivating community as a way of expanding my teaching practice.
My courses synthesize self-reflection and group analysis work as a way to invoke critical inquiry and cross-cultural perspectives in the classroom. At the beginning of each course, I have students create a visual chart where they map out their inspirations, values, and goals before we dive into theories. This assignment works as a means of opening discussion about the intersections of our identities and what we, as individuals, offer to the classroom community. It also guides the students and me when examining course topics. I call students to look back at their charts when they find themselves challenged by a topic or course conversation to see where their ideas may stem from.
My classroom works as a flexible power system by affirming liberation and collaboration. Democracy appears in my classes in the form of decision-making. Every student plays a vital role in the progression of class content. This requires a level of accountability and responsibility from my students. It also requires us to be intuitive. Naturally, there is a sense of awareness of how our mind-body shows up in certain spaces. We are mindful, as a class community, of our influence on how others experience the course. This approach to learning supports authentic participation. Authenticity to me feels like being unbound by limitations. Those limitations can show up in the assumption of how I want students to respond in class and how I perceive student feedback. I am aware that these processes require a sense of vulnerability, and I am constantly reflecting on how to replicate the transparency I request. This requires me to be adaptable to students’ needs. I appreciate the exchange between myself and the students. Our exchanges not only lead to trust in each other but also trust in the subject.
My students challenge me to be a dissident intellectual and an advocate of culturally relevant pedagogy in the field of dance. As a result, I’ve made a commitment to being culturally responsive in how I interact with students and the world around me. Much of my knowledge comes from discussions and viewings outside of institutional work. Going to an art gallery, watching a live performance, or finding solitude in nature all inform my approach to teaching. I also make sure to stay connected to changes within the field by participating in fellowships and attending workshops, film screenings, and choreography festivals. My goal is to continue to foster critically engaged artists by promoting community-centered learning, cultural-historical examples, and artistic autonomy.