Sydney Branch’s Teachers’ Liaison Group

Sydney Branch’s Teachers’ Liaison Group


Sydney Branch’s Teachers’ Liaison Group wished to offer opportunities for our local teachers to deliver classes aimed at specific levels. Many of our teachers demonstrate an admirable and impressive commitment to their local club, but, with the exception of beginners’ courses, these classes are general and provide different programming and management needs depending on the community they serve.

In order to enhance the teachers’ skills beyond this general-class-model approach we needed to provide extra classes to extend such skills. This would also be very beneficial to local dancers who would attend the classes, as the chance to experience graded classes, in the style of a residential school, is rare locally.

Coincidentally in 2024, four of Sydney’s teachers were committed to teaching at Schools beyond the local area in the next two years: St Andrews Summer School, New Zealand Summer School, Hunter Valley Winter School, Australia’s Southern Fling/Southern Fringe in Melbourne. It seemed logical that these teachers should have practice in delivering a program that was different from that which characterises a general class structure; the preparation and delivery would require more explicit teaching than the broader range of a general class.  All local teachers would benefit from exposure to the concept.

Borrowing from the St Andrews Summer School class definitions, it was decided to launch the year’s teacher development at two levels:

1) Consolidating Skills and

2) Progressing Essential Skills. 

The preferred season was during the cooler months of the year – April to September in the southern hemisphere. One Saturday per month would avoid too many calendar clashes. A central venue was selected to accommodate the wide geographical area being served.

Local teachers were asked to identify the dancers who fitted the Consolidating Skills definition (as per the Summer School description) and they would receive targeted invitations. The Progressing Essential Skills category was open to general registration for anyone who fitted the definition, was able to sustain medium to high impact dancing, was keen for individual critique and keen to improve.

Each day consisted of a two-hour Consolidating Skills session in the morning with the option of joining the Progressing Essential Skills two hour session after lunch.  For the consolidating Skills group, we selected dances from the Very Advanced Level Dancing Achievement Award syllabus. The Progressing Essential Skills drew some dances from Intermediate Level DAA.

Two teachers teamed up to run each half day session; the theory being that with teachers working collaboratively, sharing, preparing, comparing evaluations etc., their teaching skills development would be enhanced. Each staffing arrangement was for three months, the teachers would use their previous evaluation to improve upon the subsequent one. The teachers preparing for teaching at schools were prioritised, while recognising that all teachers would benefit.

We were very lucky to enjoy live music from Hannah Duque at our latest day of workshops, which further developed our teachers’ skills in working with a musician.

Reports on each session were required so that a comprehensive summary would complete the project.

At each session, dancers were invited to list specific dancing aspects to be addressed at a later session. The aim was to satisfy both teachers and dancers.

Both morning and afternoon sessions were expected to dedicate a considerable amount of time to enhancing footwork, a time luxury not normally conducive to a general class structure.

The value of the program and any future application will be assessed in October 2024.

TLG (Anne Kennedy, Morag Napier, Andrina Brennan, Diana Hastie)

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