MIM Insights: The Classroom Teacher
September 9th, 2019
“How do you write to summarize 23 years of fantastic, wonderful, life-changing, ‘deep-in-your-being’ happenings?”
Ms. M. was a 4th-grade classroom teacher for the very first group of Richmond Minds In Motion students 25 years ago. She continued as a 4th-grade teacher until 2018, watching class after class of students–plus two of her own grandchildren–participate in MIM.
We caught up with Ms. M to hear what she had to share about her experiences.
You were a 4th-grade teacher for our very first Minds In Motion program in Richmond–can you describe what it was like?
The program was exhilarating, encouraging, and educational from the beginning! The children responded to the daily instruction as if they were already pros.
In your words, how has the program changed over time?
I love the “continuous improvement” that the MIM program has demonstrated.
You can have a great idea, but [it won’t work] unless you can grow with the idea–it evolves as it grows–[and] let it be bigger than you are. That’s what the Richmond Ballet did with starting MIM. As the program got bigger pretty quickly, you still had to evolve–part of that was changing the [performance] location (Collegiate, Kennedy High School, Ashe Center…) As you grew as [dance] teachers, we grew as [classroom] teachers.
As an educator, what part of the MIM program strikes you as the most impactful?
Seeing a child grow right before your eyes….It’s a sweet thing to see shy children come bursting forth. [Both} shy and already confident children blossomed where they needed to grow. To see a child discover a strength that was unknown and to continue with all of that work to make it their passion, what a joy for me. You take the kids and mold them into a better version of who they are.
And instant feedback is the best feedback… It’s just a win-win for everyone. They need that kind of feedback–it helps them get better. You see [continuous improvement] in the students which is really awesome: then [you see] the kids out on the field, teaching each other.
Did you ever see a different side of your students when they were dancing?
The children rise to the occasion–everyone has a strength, and unless you’re encouraged to move, you might not realize you have this gift. It’s part of the intelligence not reported on the report card. It’s valued and NEEDED. Some kids weren’t the best students in [the classroom], but Minds In Motion days gave them success. And that one success carries over into other things.
It gave some kids a reason to keep going–MIM gave them something they hadn’t felt before. [There were] children who didn’t have support at home and yet still made it to the final performance week: [it] was amazing to me. The children FELT successful.
Did you ever see information retention/cross-over between MIM and the classroom?
ABSOLUTELY. You can be teaching a lesson and the class can burst into dance! If you keep it to the printed word, no. [Not all kids] are sit-in-the-classroom learners.
Over 25 years, the culminating performances have been held in a variety of venues–theaters, athletic centers, school auditoriums. What’s your favorite venue that we’ve used?
No place but the Carpenter Theater!
Favorite show and/or theme?
Jamestown 2007: [It was] helpful with SOL objectives, the variety of AWESOME music, and the Starving Time dance…was UNBELIEVABLE.
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