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Behind the Curtain Blog

NDEO's "Behind the Curtain" Blog features articles written by NDEO members about dance and dance education topics as well as periodic updates on NDEO programs and services. This is a FREE resource available to ALL.

29Mar

The Case for a Dance Teacher Training Special Interest Group

NDEO’s Guest Blog Series features posts written by our members about their experiences in the fields of dance and dance education. We continue this series with a post by Betsy Maloney Leaf, PhD, MFA, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota.  Guest posts reflect the experiences, opinions, and viewpoints of the author and are printed here with their permission. NDEO does not endorse any business, product, or service mentioned in guest blog posts. If you are interested in learning more about the guest blogger program or submitting an article for consideration, please click here.

The following blog was written by NDEO member Betsy Maloney Leaf. She is proposing a new Special Interest Group for Teacher Trainers in Dance Education, the educators who prepare the next generation of dance teachers. We at NDEO recognize and support the need to bring this group of dance educators together to cultivate support and leadership within our community. This blog sets forth why our community needs this special interest group, and how it will help build a stronger future for dance education.

Pathways toward K-12 dance credentialing (eg, certification, licensure) populate higher education dance programs throughout the US. According to NDEO, nearly fifty programs currently include “tracks or certification specifically in dance education/pedagogy” (ndeo.org); these programs can lead to credentialing for K-12 dance education. Dance teacher trainers, or those program faculty in institutes of higher education (IHE) who run credentialing programs, carry the responsibility of ensuring dance teacher candidates are prepared for a future of teaching in K-12 schools. They must also comply with state and federal regulations regarding pathways toward credentialing. Not surprisingly, as audit culture increases in higher education and legislative bodies enact more policies regulating how teachers earn their credentials, teacher training has become a demanding landscape, one that can lead to feelings of isolation.

While NDEO currently provides many levels of support for K-12 dance educators, higher education faculty, and private sector teachers, no special interest group (SIG) exists for dance teacher trainers, or the individuals responsible for preparing credentialed K-12 dance teachers. Yet, the need for support has never been more apparent, especially as teacher trainers face the same risk of burn-out as in-service and pre-service teachers (Skisken et al., 2022). The time has come for NDEO to host a special interest group for dance teacher trainers.

Why Have a Dedicated Space and Community for Dance Teacher Trainers?

In addition to contending with unprecedented challenges like recruiting and retaining new K-12 teachers, dance teacher trainers also face enormous pressure to comply with rapidly changing educational policies while also combating demoralization and a sense of dismay within their respective institutions. A teacher training SIG can provide not only a sense of community for participating members, but it can also contribute to meaningful networking, where members collectively explore contemporary issues facing dance teacher training. Coming together through a shared vision deepens the field of dance teacher training by supporting advocacy goals and cultivating sustainable pathways toward dance credentials in the United States. Building a network of dance teacher training programs provides a snapshot of the depth and breadth of the field while monitoring the overall health of dance teacher training in the US, but it can also:

Promote professional practice in dance teacher training

By creating a network of shared resources, we can innovate dance teacher training while meeting the needs of preservice dance teachers. Preparing teacher candidates for standardized tests like the edTPA*, addressing the mental health needs of teacher candidates, and building programs committed to anti-oppressive education are just some of the issues facing dance teacher trainers. As Risner & Barr (2015) point out, dance teacher trainers walk a fine line: they must address state policy expectations regulating credentialing without neglecting to cultivate important dispositional elements in pre-service teachers, such as empathy and relationship-building.

Generate equitable pathways toward K-12 dance credentialing

By reviewing and critiquing program-specific requirements, educational policies impacting dance teacher training, and common approaches to teaching dance method courses, we can generate equitable pathways toward K-12 dance credentialing to ensure dance teacher training programs fosters “respect for and value [of] human diversity” (ndeo.org).

Develop targeted advocacy tools to ensure dance teacher training programs remain accessible and sustainable

By promoting dance teacher training programs to relevant stakeholders, including those situated in institutions of higher education, government agencies, school boards, or community organizations, we can reinforce the importance of dance in K-12 education while preparing the next generation of dance educators.

A Personal Invite

If the words “dance teacher trainer” describe you, then I invite you to join the new SIG. Now is the time to gather and reflect, to find community and support, and to move toward action as we ensure dance K-12 pathways remain open and free. Consider joining the Dance Teacher TrainerSIG today. 

The first meeting will be virtual on Tuesday, April 2nd from 5-6pm EST.  For more information and to register please click here.

In addition, NDEO is collecting data on institutions that offer PreK-12 dance certification programs. If you are a professor or administrator of such an institution, please complete our short survey found here.

Betsy Maloney Leaf, PhD, MFA, teaches in the Arts in Education program at the University of Minnesota. She works with the interarts (dance, theatre arts, visual art) initial license program and teaches graduate courses in the department of Curriculum & Instruction. Maloney Leaf's research examines the intersection between arts education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and educational policy. Her research has been presented at several regional and national conferences and published in many research journals, including Research in Dance Education, Youth Theatre Journal, Journal of Dance Education, Studies in Art Education, Review of Research in Education, and Arts Education Policy Review. Maloney Leaf holds a Minnesota K-12 Dance & Theatre License. Previously, she taught in K-12 schools for 11 years.

Photo Credits: All action shots by Noah Gelfman, headshot by Stan Waldhauser

* edTPA is a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by teacher preparation programs throughout the United States to emphasize, measure and support the skills and knowledge that all teachers need from Day 1 in the classroom. (edTPA.com)

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