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 Kelly Williams…
Kelly lives in a suburb of Sacramento, California and teaches at an elementary school located in Orangevale, CA on Fridays. In this enrichment program she teaches ages 4-12 with grades transitional kindergarten through 6th grade. Kelly has her B.A. in Modern Dance from Brigham Young University. While at BYU she had the opportunity to perform with the touring modern dance company formally known as ‘The Dancer’s Company’, also ‘Dancensemble’, and ‘Impulse’ an improvisation modern dance company. She also performed with the professional dance company ‘The Art of Jazz’. Kelly has a technical degree in massage therapy from from The Utah College of Massage Therapy.
Kelly feels that her yoga, massage and dance background all benefit her teaching dance to children. Their is so much healing through movement. “I see it every time I teach a class, the children leave rejuvenated, elated and happy” Sometimes, she weaves yoga into her classes through the warmup or cool down. Her knowledge of different modalities of massage gives her an understanding of how the body heals and more knowledge of anatomy and physiology which helps in any movement teaching setting.
Maria: Paint us a picture of your typical teaching day?
Kelly: I use time each week to prepare what I will be teaching on Friday. On Fridays, I go to my Chi Yoga class in the morning, this helps me to center and relax. Then I head to the school and teach the grade I’ve scheduled for that day.
Maria: In a few sentences, describe your teaching philosophy.
Kelly: I believe teaching needs to come from respect and love and fun. The children I work with are in school all day and they have a lot of sitting at desk time. They need to move and have fun doing it.
Maria: If I came to observe you teach today, what is the first quality I would notice about you as a teacher?
Kelly: I really am one of the kids. I love to move, dance and create with them.
Maria: What are 2 things you love about teaching, and one thing you don’t like very much at all.
Kelly: I love making my lesson plans & I love the hands on teaching children. The hardest part of my job is scheduling the classes.
Maria: What surprises you the most about teaching dance to young children?
Kelly: I learn from them every day. Children are so creative and uninhibited. They always surprise me with their enthusiasm, ideas and new ways of approaching a given task.
Maria: If you were going to speak to a group of aspiring creative dance teachers, what would you tell them?
Kelly: You have picked the most amazing, rewarding profession. Working with children and teaching them creative dance is so fulfilling. It is a gift.
Maria: Share with us one teaching moment that you will never forget.
Kelly: One day I was teaching a kindergarten class … all the children were dancing beautifully, engaged, with smiles on their faces. I was moving with them when a young boy floated by me and said, “I love you Mrs. Williams!” It made my day, and I realized how truly powerful creative movement is to children.
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?
Kelly: At the beginning of class I play a movement game with the children called ‘Freeze Frame’ (I’ve adapted it from Dee Winterton’s version). The game has drum cues that tell the children what movement to perform. Later on in the class, if the children need some focus, I’ll start drumming that game to bring the group back together.
Maria: Since teachers continue to learn too, what is one teaching goal that you are working towards?
Kelly: I feel the need to keep growing & learning. Any movement or music class that comes my way, I take. The elementary school where I teach offers Orff Training and Education Through Music Classes. I’ve learned a lot through these classes about teaching, how children learn and how their brain develops. Also, eventually, I plan on getting my masters degree in a dance related field.
Maria: Share with us your most favorite creative dance lesson so we can all use it tomorrow. You know, Maria’s Movers style!
Kelly: In my all time favorite lesson I have the children choose one activity they do in their everyday life … swimming, taking care of a pet, reading, playing an instrument, taking a form of martial art, a form of dance, etc. I have them walk through their activity and say what they are doing; this helps them memorize it. Then I have them add a positive space shape to the beginning of their movement sequence, and a negative space shape at the end. Next, I have them manipulate the sequence they just created through Space, Time & Force. To music, of course!
You can connect with Kelly on her website. Thank you Kelly for being a part of the project! Ahh, the “I love yous” are the best warm and fuzzies! 🙂