Gretchen Wegner’s blog heading reads “Play with intention…Learn with abandon.” She is a learning expert and coach. She teaches and practices InterPlay. Here is a recent entry:
For those of you who don’t know, InterPlay is an active, creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body. We use storytelling, movement, voice, physical contact, and stillness as a vehicle to creating healthy individuals and communities. InterPlay is also a performance technique, which is what I teach on Tuesday nights at InterPlayce in Oakland, California I’m so grateful to all the new and eager students! Many of them are experienced InterPlayers who have been hungering to practice performing; others, though, are completely new to the practice. Because it’s a drop-in class, the same folks don’t come every week (although there is a core of about five who are thankfully consistent).
As you can imagine, these disparities – in experience and attendance – pose interesting challenges for me, the leader. How might I teach in such a way that the new people learn the basic skills, but the more experienced folks feel challenged? How do I build skills with specific performance forms when folks do not consistently attend? (Note: I’m very aware that these questions are similar to the ones academic teachers ask in classes with both “gifted” and “learning disabled” students. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to reflect about how my InterPlay experience dovetails with my classroom teaching experience; however, there are definitely overlaps, and many of these best practices can be applied to the academic classroom as well).
Slowly, I’m gathering my own list of best practices.
1. Always teach the basic skills as a warm up into the more complex ones. Just as a concert pianist practices her scales, so must the most experienced InterPlayers practice the basic forms. Sometimes I’m tempted to forego a hand dance or 30-second babble because I want to get to the “good stuff” of dancing and storytelling using the whole body. However, easing the body into the more complex forms often provides a richer experience – for both the newbie and the old hat. Plus, I’m learning that teaching the basic skills doesn’t have to take a ton of time (often just a minute or two).
2. Provide multiple options.
3. Practice being an expert.
4. Name nervousness, but don’t dwell on it.
5. Change partners often.
She concludes by saying,”These five best practices are simply the ones I found myself using tonight. I’m sure there are many more ways of dealing with the challenge of mixed-level classes.”
These practices could apply to many areas of diversity in community. Phil and I wholeheartedly commend what Gretchen is practicing!
Gretchen is the creator of MuseCubes, an academic coach, and an InterPlay educator. If you are interested in ways that InterPlay can empower your teaching or learning community contact Cynthia@interplay.org