This series is a part of the Creating With Kids Interview Project! I have set out to interview 52 dance teachers working with young children everyday. By doing this project, I have learned that you are all amazing, hard working, creative and inspiring! I hope you enjoy the interviews and can take something special away from each one. A look inside a dance teacher’s class, is a look inside a dance teacher’s heart. -Maria
Introducing Codey Gritten, the only male who applied to be interviewed. Go Codey! I thought Codey’s feature would be a great advantage to all of us because his job is to use creative movement to teach baseball to preschoolers. How awesome is that? He also has performed professionally in front of preschoolers for years.
Codey lives in Washington Heights in Manhattan, NY and teaches baseball classes to mostly boys ages 2-7 in Central Park for The Bulldog Ball Club. Codey has a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and grew up playing baseball. He spent 3 years traveling as a children’s theatre performer. He was CHARLIE BROWN, Boots from DORA THE EXPLORER, and Max from MAX AND RUBY.
Maria: Paint us a picture of your typical teaching day?
Codey: My teaching day starts around noon, wheeling a small rolling backpack full of baseball stuff down to the A train. I’m usually in Central Park by 12:45 and set up a small “baseball field” in a grassy area. The strollers arrive and we get right to it! I teach 4 classes, 45 minutes each, then pack my bag and roll on back to the A train!
Maria: In a few sentences, describe your teaching philosophy.
Codey: Be nice. Try your best.
Maria: If I came to observe you teach today, what is the first quality I would notice about you as a teacher?
I have a lot of fun, and each class is like a little performance for the kids.
Maria: What are 2 things you love about teaching, and one thing you don’t like very much at all.
Codey: I love asking questions, and hearing the interesting responses I get from the kids.
I love the moment a young child realizes that all these silly games we’ve been playing and all these silly sayings we’ve been repeating and all these silly movements we’ve been doing are all part of a larger game called baseball. That moment is priceless.
Parent interactions can sometimes be the most difficult part of the entire gig.
Maria: What surprises you the most about teaching dance to young children?
Codey: Honestly, the size of the market is most surprising to me. One of those, “Only in New York” kind of things.
Maria: If you were going to speak to a group of aspiring creative dance teachers, what would you tell them?
Codey: To ask questions and really listen. Some of your best material comes straight from the kids.
Maria: Share with us one teaching moment that you will never forget.
Codey: There are so many unforgettable moments, I’ve considered starting a BLOG! One of my favorite moments was a conversation with some other coaches that went something like, “You know who’s good? That Jake kid. He’s fast, and he can really throw. Sure, he poops his pants sometimes, but the kid can play.”
Maria: Teachers of young children need a pocket full of management techniques and tricks to keep things on track. What is one trick in your pocket that almost never fails?
Codey: Depending on the class and their interests, they are usually either TRAINS, CARS, AIRPLANES, or BOATS. Transitions are “Come park your cars in the garage,” or “Trains! Trains! Pull into the station!” or “Everyone come in for a landing at second base!
Maria: Since teachers continue to learn too, what is one teaching goal that you are working towards?
Codey: Changing the way kids learn to love the game of baseball.
Maria: Share with us your most favorite creative dance lesson so we can all use it tomorrow. You know, Maria’s Movers style!
Codey: I love to personify the equipment. Sometimes we have a sleepy baseball bat, (if it is resting on the player’s shoulder) and we need to tell it to WAKE UP! If your bat is asleep, it can’t hit the ball. “What do you tell that bat?” “WAKE UP, BAT!”
p.s. you can connect with Codey on his website and on twitter. Codey and his wife, are the brains behind Dance Dot! Thank you Codey for being a part of the project, and for bringing a different perspective! You are welcome here anytime!