I recently moved to Edinburgh (for the time being), and started working for a company called Step it up Dance. They are based within Edinburgh schools and nurseries, and are supported by RBS’s Entrepreneurial Spark Programme. This programme has been a great learning curve for me! I didn’t know it existed. And because of this, Step it up Dance have their offices within this programme at RBS’s Gogarburn Headquaters.
The programme has expanded rapidly, starting with just one class, to now employing many teachers across three Scottish cities (Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh). They now have a HipHop curriculum that they teach in communities, nurseries and schools.
I have been teaching this in Primary schools and nurseries across Edinburgh. It has been great to see the variety of schools, and I have been teaching in arguably rougher areas to private schools. All of the kids have been great and both them and the teachers are very receptive to the curriculum, which has been developed in keeping with the Curriculum for Excellence and Birth to 3 documents, which are the educational curriculums for Scottish schools and nurseries. The curriculum is progressive, and they have developed a handbook demonstrating the moves and their progressions, which lasts for two years for each participant.
The nursery and school curriculum has been specifically designed to incorporate many experiences and outcomes within the Expressive Arts and Health & Wellbeing areas of the Curriculum for Excellence. I generally try to incorporate this into my own personal classes anyway, but I just think it is so great that they have developed a whole curriculum surrounding this idea. It is really great to be able to record the progression.
Having been living in Cambodia for a year, it has been really great to start teaching in the Scottish Curriculum again, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of schools and children that I have been working with. It is great to see the diversity in the city.
They teach in community settings also, and it has been really great for me to be part of this, and to see the marketing that is involved, as well as offering trials. It is great to see how different companies access the different communities.
I have also been advising on the training that they deliver. I regularly deliver training for other teachers, and am interesting in researching the best approach for engaging children and ensuring that we access them in the best and most appropriate way possible. I believe in looking at different learning styles such as: visual, kinaesthetic, auditory. I often try to teach in a way that accesses different learners, including visual/sensory props and demonstrations, oral dance descriptions and noises to moves, providing group and solo work for either social or solitary learners. I also believe that creative time is appropriate in classes so that learners can process information and reintroduce it in their own way, while learning from others and working together.
I created training documents for Step it up Dance of a ‘safe and effective dance class’ and ‘Additional Support Needs’.
I am passionate about ensuring all teachers are adequately trained in dealing appropriately with varying levels of additional support needs. I fully believe that it is our right as teachers to ensure that the class is appropriate for the child, and personally access training this in a way that is not looking specifically at what different additional support needs are, but how we can use the study of varying learners and incorporate this into our classes to ensure that they are appropriate for everyone.
I often find training so vital for freelancers not only to develop and improve ourselves and our practice, but also as a way to meet other teachers and touch base with the company that you are working for. So often it is travelling solitary between schools and teaching, and it is so great to learn about different companies plans and developments and to incorporate these into our teaching, together with others delivering the same as you.
It has been so great to look at developing and training other teachers, and to share what I believe is important. It has also been great to see how they run, to learn about ESPArk and to see all of their merchandise. As a company they provide teachers with props, which I have thoroughly been enjoying teaching with!
I have some other work commitments coming up (which I rather exciting…. all shall be revealed soon), so unfortunately I am leaving this company, but it has been so great to work a term for them, to work locally with primary children again and to remind myself of the Curriculum for Excellence. I love teaching street dance, even though when performing I always specialise in contemporary. I believe street dance can be a very accessible dance form and can be used as a tool to engage with those difficult to access.
So Step it up Dance, it has been fun, and keep in touch 🙂 Keep your eyes peeled for their great classes, Edinburgh people!