How to Be a Twenty-First Century Teacher

When we look back, we often also look forward to the future.   I recently finished a course on the history of American education, and looking back helped me clarify my concept of “A Twenty-First-Century Teacher.”  Perhaps oddly, the ideas connected in my mind in the format of the artist Sark’s posters that were popular from the late 80’s-early 90’s, like her “How to be an Artist” poster.  So I created my own version of that style of poster, called, “How to be a Twenty-First-Century Teacher.”  Since integrating movement in the classroom is also a journey of continuous growth and change, I thought it might contribute to our thoughts here.

21st Century Teacher

Prezi on Movement and Learning

Prezi CaptureI was excited – and nervous – to present about movement in the classroom to the staff in my school.  We moved and did moving activities during the presentation, and I created a Prezi presentation as well, to add visual and text components.  I ended up with much, much more material then I needed – perhaps I’ll use other parts of the Prezi at other times, in other ways.

Since it was an opportunity to sum up much of what I’ve learned so far about movement in the classroom, I’m sharing it with you, here.  I started out wanting to find the “best” movement for classroom use – what gives us the most benefits, is the most research-based, gives us the best return on our time and energy invested?  Ultimately, I realized, the best movement for your classroom is whatever works best for you, with your personality, your unique students, what your students need right now, and what your goals are for them right now.   Teachers need a variety of options and tools that they can use in ways that are best for them and their students.

Here is my first attempt at defining a range of options for teachers, as well as offering a context for thinking about each approach.  I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you may have – Click the link below to see the Prezi.

What is a Socially Conscious Body?

Martha Eddy gives a lecture on this question at Hampshire College in February of 2013.  The YouTube link is below.

The video information reads, “Martha Eddy, RSMT, CMA, Ed.D., founder and director of the Center for Kinesthetic Education (CKE), brings to the fields of health, wellness and education, her strong belief in the power of movement and somatic-awareness to enhance lives.”

She brings together many threads of somatic awareness, movement, art and and talks about the terms she coined, “somaction,” which she describes as using our somatic awareness in a way to support building community.  She also reflects on the connection between movement and behavior.  She also asserts that art and movement practices can help schools become more peaceful places, as a powerful force for violence prevention.  Dance is especially powerful, as it brings together the benefits of both body movement and art.  This is an hour-long talk, covering many ideas from a unique perspective.

Questions to consider further might be:

What is somatic dance? How do somatics, dance, art, education and health come together?

You can learn more about Martha Eddy at these links:

McCaslin-Inspired Movement with Poetry

Movements for Valerie Worth's Poem, Grass 0 01 42-33

When I shared this short video with some colleagues in a class I’m taking, one kind teacher said that this reminded her of the approach advocated by Nellie McCaslin.  Here is a link to an article about McCaslin and her work.  My favorite paragraph reads, “Though drama by and for children is considered a ghetto by many theater professionals, to Dr. McCaslin it was a serious artistic enterprise. Theater, she wrote in a 1990 article, ‘is finding recognition as an art that contributes to the emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.”

The video is of some students working on movements to go with the poem, Grass by Valerie Worth.  Only part of the class was able to participate, and the next day the students wrote open-ended reading responses to the poem.  While I have not yet scored each student’s work on a rubric and compared results between the students who moved and who did not, it was my observation that students who participated in the movement seemed to write more energetically, filling the page easily with questions, connections and wonderings.

Dr. Nellie McCaslin, pioneer of drama by and for children

Somatic Experiencing for Kids?

Image from:

Image from:

Somatic Experiencing for Kids?

This blog post by Suzie Gruber lets us know that others are also thinking about ways to use somatic experiencing –  awareness of our bodies’ moment-to-moment experiences –  to help children recover from trauma — and thrive.
To read more about what teachers from my school and I thought about Peter Levine’s work and its implication for our classrooms, you can go to this post:

by artist Salima Alikhan

Poem: The Spirit Likes to Dress Up Like This by Mary Oliver

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body’s world,

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is —

so it enters us —
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes….

—  Mary Oliver