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Exemplary Teaching: Dance Class with Avi Gold

December 7, 2012

Avi GoldI happened in on Avi Gold’s III Form Dance class this morning, periods 4 & 5. It was a brilliant demonstration of the art of teaching.

Avi began the class with the students dancing in two lines, practicing some of their steps. He coached and demonstrated; he encouraged and critiqued.

The students practiced again, and again; Avi kept encouraging, critiquing, demonstrating – to them individually, to them as a group.

Each attempt revealed improvement, and he told them that. He kept showing them how to get better, and then he asked them to show him what they had learned, if they could do it better.

At the end of class, the students performed one of the five steps in front of the entire class, alone on stage. When some students found out their step, they were relieved to get a dance step they knew; a couple exclaimed, “This is my worst nightmare!” when they received their assignment. But Avi got each one on stage, affirmed his faith in each of them even as they were nervous.

It was remarkable to witness how much happened in those 80 minutes this morning. It was remarkable how much the students did, learned, improved, owned. It was a class filled with joy, labor, support, dedication, risk and engagement.

At the end of the class, the students had demonstrated to the teacher how much they learned — how well they could deal with that class’ material.

The challenge for the teacher was to plan a class where the performance demonstrated his material — his ability to have them do the material.

Avi excelled in this task because he was prepared, he cared passionately about what they were doing, he believed in each student, he held them to high standards, he gave them the chance to learn, and he created a safe environment for failure and performance.

It was a remarkable lesson in how to teach, and in how students learn.

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