Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Learning to Teach

When I was younger, I never wanted to be a teacher. When asked, I would respond, "Oh no! I don't think I'd have the patience to teach!" I've always hoped to homeschool my own children one day, but to teach others? I didn't think it was for me.

I went to a drama camp the summer of 2004. There, we learned about the different roles people have in putting on a play. When we got to the role of director, I decidedly remarked to myself, "I never want to be a director." Fast-forward to the summer of 2005, and you find me directing and acting in the musical Esther-Ordinary Faith. What's more, I actually enjoyed it and hope to direct again in the future. Little did I know how much I would change.

Teaching used to scare me quite a bit - and in many instances, it still does. However, with God's help, I'm doing it. I am a teacher. I used to think that I'd be an awful teacher. I've been blessed with the gift of teaching myself many things, and catching on to most things quickly. Many things that are hard for others to learn, sometimes seem to come to me naturally. Thus, the thought of struggling to help someone else learn what is easy to me seemed pretty unappealing.

Last summer when I directed the musical, something changed. When we started, I didn't want to be the director; I didn't want to be in charge of everyone, children and adults; I didn't want to have to speak out and tell everyone what to do. But I did it, and amazingly it actually wasn't as hard as it seemed.

By nature I'm a quiet person who doesn't like to speak up among people. It's hard for me to get over my timidity and take charge; nevertheless, with God's strength, I'm learning. It's one of those "Hard Things".

I'd never really thought much about teaching dance until people started asking me about it. I'd only taken for a few years when a lady at my church asked whether I'd consider teaching her daughter. I was even more shy than I am now, and I quickly told her that I didn't think I could, and suggested that her daughter take from my teacher instead. Two years ago, another lady asked if I would teach her three daughters. I began to consider it, but then decided with my mother's counsel that I shouldn't start given lessons until I could drive myself.

Now I am sixteen, and have my driver's license. And last Thursday, I began the first classes of The King's Praise Ballet.

I've always had a hard time finding quality dance training that wouldn't make me compromise my values. As a little girl, I always wanted ballet lessons, but we didn't find a Christian teacher until I was 11. When I was 13 we finally found a pointe teacher. This year, I've stopped taking from both of my old teachers, and have found a more challenging teacher, since I had gone as far as my previous teachers could teach.

Realizing that God has given me the gift of dance, I hope to pass it on to other girls. My vision is "To teach girls to praise God with dancing, using a foundation of classical ballet and incorporating interpretative movements. All moves and costumes will be modest and glorifying to God." Last summer God led me to name it The King's Praise Ballet, with the verse "I will praise You, my God The King; I will exalt Your Name for ever & ever." (Psalm 145:1)

I've started teaching two dance classes on Thursday afternoons; one class is for ages 4-6, and one is for ages 7 & up. God has blessed me with 17 students - far more than I'd ever imagined!

I am far from the perfect teacher. I have a hard time going slow, and thoroughly explaining what I'm doing. I've got a lot to learn. It's a bit of a challenge to keep the younger girls having fun and learning at the same time. However, God is good. I pray that He takes my efforts and brings good from them. I've never really been "taught," so it's a challenge to know where to start. When I started ballet, it was with other girls who had taken before, so I just had to catch on and follow as best as I could. Plus, I didn't take dance when I was 4 or 5, so it's hard to know how much the little girls can do. I learn as I go. I know I be teach perfectly - although it sure would be nice! If anything, I hope that the girls learn to praise their King, using the beautiful art of ballet.

14 comments:

Susan said...

It's neat to hear how you've changed in your views of teaching, Anna. I also used to think I could never teach, and I would be so nervous. But I've never had nerves over teaching, strangely :). Once I get up there, it's just like having an extensive conversation.

17 students. Wow!

Anna's Mom said...

"The River of God" is FLOWING through you for "such a Time as THIS", dear, wonderful Anna Naomi (pleasant Grace from God).

Keep your eyes on your King Jesus and give Him ALL the glory and tell of His Love, His WONDERFUL Love !

It was a blessing for me to fellowship with the mom's and dad's who brought their children. HALLELU YAH !

une_fille_d'Ève said...

How neat! I can definitely sympathize. There are so many things that I've said in the past that make me look with amazement where God has lead me at times. The idea of teaching, coaching, leading, traveling all scared me! I hated French. I disliked having to talk to people I didn't know. It's funny... I had an experience similar to yours with sculpting. I've taught myself how to sculpt little people or other things through the aid of a couple books and I've entered them in various small contests, some being home school fairs. One mom saw what I did and called me to ask if I could teach a small group of girls some about sculpting. I was self-taught, really knew very little about what I was doing, and had very little confidence, so my first reaction was an emphatic NO! Then I did decide to do it, and it was hard, but it was a good experience and kind of fun!
Being the younger sister has made me always follow Sister Dear, so taking leadership is NOT natural. But, circumstances have led me to help coach cross country, develope some organizational and directing skills from that, be team captain of the girls my senior year, and undertake other minor leadership roles. I still think I'm naturally a follow, but I know that God can give me the ability to lead when necessary.
Being a teacher used to sound scary to me too (and still kinda does!) but that's now what I'm studying to be! I also just offered to help a hispanic lady near me in learning english. I'm a little nervous - I don't know what exactly we'll do or how I'll explain our complicated language and get some difficult concepts across, but I'm also excited about the opportunity!
It's God amazing? He purposely works through things we're not gifted in to push us to grow and learn, to humble us through our inability - and ultimately to show His glory and power.
I'm so excited for you with you classes you are teaching! I know you'll learn a lot and be a blessing to the families and girls you interact with.

Ella said...

Anna, isn't it funny that, despite what we think we are capable of doing, the Lord always tests us and shows us that, with HIM, anything is possible. I have every confidence that you can do this, and that God will be glorified in the process!

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

You should talk to my sister! She has the same vision for Christian dance. God uses dance in powerful ways, and it is always a joy to see.

dwiebes said...

My name is Sirena. I am wondering if you know of any videos that I could use to teach my daughter some ballet. We live in a small town and there are no modest dance options available. My husband and I refuse to put her into regualr ballet because of the emphasis put on seduction in the later years. Thank you for any help you can give us. I am also interested in any praise dance videos you can recommend.

dwiebes@monarch.net

Anna Naomi said...

Thanks for all the responses!

Susan: I know what you mean. Once I start class, I switch into "teacher mode" and everything goes pretty well. Keeping the younger girls occupied is the hardest thing...

Mom: Thanks for the encouragement

Hannah: I really enjoyed reading about your experiences! I too know how it is to be the younger sister. I've got 5 siblings older than me, so taking charge isn't really normal for me either. It's so neat that you got to teach sculpting! God is truly amazing. I really never thought I'd be a teacher.

Ella: Yes, indeed everything is possible with God! Even things I never thought I was capable of.

Elizabeth: That's neat that your sister dances as well! Does she teach or take any praise ballet classes?

ashley said...

I am so glad you are teaching! I will pray for you! I am praying that God will give me courage to teach girls to praise him!

Anna Naomi said...

Mrs. Sirena: Welcome to our blog! Sorry, but I really haven't used any praise dance videos that teach beginner ballet. There may be some however... Have you tried searching the internet for them? There is a wonderful Christan ballet company named Ballet Magnificat! (http://balletmagnificat.com ) that has beautiful dance performance videos. They do have a ballet class DVD, but it is for girls who have quite a bit of dance experience.

Ashley: Thanks for your prayers. I hope you are doing well!

Jessica said...

A late comment...but I just had to say how wonderful and exciting it is that you're teaching ballet now...YAY! I'd love to hear more about it...obviously it reminds of when I started my ballet school at your age and I'd be interested in how it goes for you. So I'm a little confused though...is this a school you started on your own and are running or are you teaching for another school? I hope you keep us all up-to-date on how it goes! Have a beautiful day!

Anna Naomi said...

Jessica, thanks for the comment. I know you must be busy with college and everything! I started my own school, however I don't have a dance studio. I'm teaching in the fellowship hall of a church building. It's interesting to learn how to keep track of everything, expenses and all. I think it's going pretty well. The younger ones are the hardest to teach, but I'm trying to get creative with different things for them to learn and have fun with. Did you teach any really young girls (4-5 year olds)?

Jessica said...

The younger ones are the hardest to teach, but I'm trying to get creative with different things for them to learn and have fun with. Did you teach any really young girls (4-5 year olds)?

Yes, I taught four- and five-year-olds (and one three-year-old) and usually it was fun... You're right though, it can be hard to come up with stuff to keep the little ones interested. For the most part I used the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and so that gave me the basis of technique to teach them and then I tried to work in a lot of imaginative stuff to make it fun. They all loved "pretending" and, in my opinion, it helps with the mime and role-playing when they have to dance in character-type pieces in the future. Are you using any specific syllabus? I'd really love to hear more about all you're doing...

Anna Naomi said...

No, actually I'm not using any syllabus at all. In fact, all my lesson plans and everything comes out of my head. I'm starting slow, doing a little barre work, stretches, center floor and corner work, and recently have started teaching them a praise ballet dance. I hope I'm qualified enough to teach... I feel very inadequate sometimes, but I hope I'm teaching them something! The girls are doing really well. Basically, I'm just trying to combine what I've learned at all my different classes, and teaching them what I would have liked to learn. I'm learning a lot, just by teaching.

Jessica said...

Yes...that must be difficult to entirely come up with your own syllabus, but it sounds like you have a good start!