I have been working as an Assistant Practitioner on the Making Waves project for nearly a year now alongside 9 other students. This project aims to increase awareness of higher education in youths and employs university students to lead this learning through different teaching scenarios. So far I have loved every moment of this project and feel that is largely based on how the project has been organised and because I truly believe in the need and positive outcome of the project.
Since the end of the last academic year I have taught across numerous colleges and schools across Plymouth for the outreach workshops that are one element of this project. Within these workshops I co teach different dance exercises and tasks alongside one or two of the other student practitioners before finishing with a presentation on university life. Whilst these workshops are overlooked by a lead practitioner to ensure the workshop is suitable and runs smoothly, the emphasis is on student initiative and leadership.
This is a large reason of why I have enjoyed being a part of this project so far as I like to be challenged and able to use my own initiative. Making Waves has provided me with the opportunity to take control of my own learning and given me the space to grow as a leader within my teaching ability.
I was able to build and develop more of these skills when teaching at the Monday evening classes at Plymouth University. Myself and another assistant practitioner, Samantha Mills, were working alongside two lead practitioners, Laura Henry and Lucy Freeman, during the first term of this class. I found that I was able to develop my skills in a practical environment more clearly and specifically than any experience I had had before.
During this process I found that I became more confident in my ability to lead as a teacher, finding understanding in tasks and exercises, rather than teaching exercises just because I had been told to in the past. I discovered why certain tasks and exercises were useful and how to keep progressing the participants movement, skill and ability with constructive and meaningful feedback. Understanding how to engage deeper with the participants really enabled me to witness a beautiful progression in the class, noticing a dramatic rise in confidence and creativity as a whole.
Whilst I have completed my time with this class for this academic year, I am still engaging in the Making Waves Project through the outreach workshops as I mentioned before. Within theses times we aim to provide more knowledge on university life and higher education as a whole from a student perspective. This is an element of the project that I think is very effective as the participants are gaining knowledge from students who are current in their experiences and who are ultimately more relatable to them.
Now that I have completed a few of these workshops I have found more of a rhythm within this style of workshop and confidence with the information that I am providing to the participants. This month I will be co leading two workshops at Pilton Community College and I can honestly say I am more than delighted to share my knowledge and experience to the participants on behalf of the project as I have witnessed and believe in its necessity and benefit.
In saying all of this, the project doesn’t only provide a massive amount of experience and knowledge to gain but it also supports the students further, as the practitioners are all paid for their work. Having this support helps me to feel valued and respected on more of a professional level that students aren’t often provided with. As such the work I provide is a better reflection of my ability and strengths as a dancer, producing more creativity and ingenuity within my teaching.
Overall I hope to continue growing as a dance practitioner within this project, supporting the students to come and encouraging dance to the best of my ability. I am excited for where this project will take me and I am glad to have the support and opportunity to build my professional experience as a student who is graduating this academic year. If you have a chance to get involved with the Making Waves Project, I strongly urge you to.
Exim Dance Company Assistant Practitioner