As I write this post I’m getting excited about my plans for tomorrow night. I’m heading off to the London Convention Center with a group of female family members to enjoy Jeans’ Classics ~ A Night of ABBA. Knowing who I’ll be attending with, there will definitely be lots of singing along and dancing in the aisles. Song and dance are an important part of my life. I can’t imagine starting my day without the radio on, playing music as I make my way through my morning routine; sometimes, dancing as I apply make-up or fine tune my locks.
This morning was no different and in fact the topic of Dance was part of my first meeting. I always look forward to my meetings with our ETFO Vice President, a talented teacher whom I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside of in a school setting as well as our current working relationship. Today’s topic was the Provincial Report Card and more specifically expectations around the Arts comments. As many of you know, we have four subjects within the Arts section of the report card ~ Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts. We are striving to provide consistent messaging to our teachers about the most effective way to report on their assessment of these subjects, throughout the entire school year. I’m confident that with continued discussions, we will be able to reach a shared understanding and consensus. Our discussion encompassed a variety of hypothetical situations about the challenges of teaching dance, teacher knowledge on the subject etc. We ended the meeting, with a shared desire to come back to the larger group next week and work through more negotiations.
My day then continued on until about 1 pm when our ESL Coordinator came to my office and invited me to join her in the Thames Room (our large gymnasium at the Ed Center). Today was the final afternoon for the Dance Festival and students from our LEARN (congregated ESL classroom) were performing. At that moment, everything on my “to do list” became secondary and I headed downstairs. The place was rockin’ with students from Early Years classes right up to Secondary School students. Our board certainly knows how to put on a show and today was another fine example. The performances were projected on the big screen and the bleachers were filled with proud parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators etc. I was thoroughly enjoying the music and in awe of the performers, but it wasn’t until our group of students (most of them from Nepal) in their traditional dress took their places in the center of the gym that it hit me (tears and all). For many of those students, less than a year ago, they were in refugee camps and experiencing horrors that we would never wish on any child. This group of children have had their challenges in entering our school system, understanding a new culture and making new friends. We are blessed to have dedicated teachers, Natalee Wales and Peggy Dunham supporting them every step of the way. And yet here they were today, dancing, smiling and singing a song honouring their homeland and sharing a piece of their culture with a broader audience.
All of a sudden the hypothetical conversations from my morning meeting became a reality. I wish I could have bottled the emotion from today and shared it with those few educators who find is challenging to see the benefits of teaching and assessing all of the Arts for our students. Our job as educators is to ensure that we are providing our students with every possible opportunity to shine.
For those of you who know me, you can probably guess that my favourite word popped into my head as I made my way back to the “busyness” of my office ~ Serendipity. Was it fate that both my meeting and the dance festival were on the same day? It certainly wasn’t a purposeful plan on my part. If it had been, I may have escorted my visitor down to the Thames room so that he could have experienced it for himself.
Whatever it was, I was thankful for the bookends of “Dance” in my day!