Over the past few weeks, since opening the K&M SOPA and offering classes, I’ve been a bit surprised at the number of people who have signed up for classes.
Not just at my own classes, but at other schools as well.
While I’m glad to see so many schools and so many students interested, I’m curious as to why so many people, including people who already have skills, are signing up for some of the classes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see so many eager learners!
But it seems that many of the people taking classes already have skills, so I’m curious about the reasons behind the seemingly sudden flurry of students.
*What* is it that everyone is so eager to learn?
There seems to be a shift in dance right – to what, I’m not exactly sure.
New venues are opening, new schools have formed, new students are appearing – all wonderful things.
I don’t know if it has to do with Project Sansar looming on the horizon, or if it’s just a seasonal shift – but there seems to be some -restlessness – for lack of a better term.
Winnie addresses some of the things I’ve been feeling in her recent blog post, ‘What is art anyways?’
Art and dance can be so subjective.
Nothing you do is ever going to please everyone.
We’re all different people, and everyone has their own tastes and likes.
I personally prefer smaller stages and more intimate-feeling venues.
That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate huge stages and extravaganzas – they’re just not my favorite type of dance.
Does that mean people shouldn’t do them?
Of course it doesn’t.
But you should be aware of what you like and what you don’t – as a dancer, as an audience member, and as a student.
Types of Learners and Teachers
I’ve taken a lot of classes in my life – some from teachers I loved, some from teachers I couldn’t stand.
I learn best when I can read on my own and then get some hands-on experience.
Others prefer visual learning – a video as opposed to a lecture, a slide show instead of a page of notes.
Still others have to be up and moving around – doing something physical, kinetic – in order to learn.
Instructors are people too, and they each have their preferred style of teaching.
Some like to lecture, some like to have hands-on activities, some have a mixture of things.
The best teachers are the ones who can teach in a variety of ways, so that they can meet each student’s needs.
It’s a difficult skill, and one that I am still struggling to master, even after 10+ years of teaching.
I’ve seen some frustrated students (in SL and RL), and while it’s easy to place blame, I think it’s more helpful to focus on how you learn best and find an instructor who teaches that way.
When I decided to open K&M SOPA, it was for exactly these reasons.
How I teach in SL is different than how I teach in RL in many ways.
In RL, I lecture, I hand out assignments, I give presentations, the students do hands-on activities, they have homework, and there are essays and tests.
In SL, I purposely cut out many of these things – particularly lectures, assignments, homework, and tests.
(Please note, there is nothing wrong with any of these, I just chose not to do them.)
I come into SL for fun and relaxation.
Dance is a way for me to express myself creatively in ways that are not possible in RL.
I don’t want to do homework and assignments in SL – it’s too much like RL for me, and it’s not why I’m in SL.
If you do, great!
*That* is what SL is about, in my opinion – finding places and things and activities that you enjoy.
If you don’t like something, you can move on to something else.
Because so many people have limited time in SL, I chose to limit my classes to only one session (where possible) and only one hour.
My goal was/is for students to come to a class, learn something, and then use what they learned.
I didn’t want to spend my time creating assignments and later grading them (I do enough of that in RL!).
That’s my choice as a teacher – and not everyone will like it.
That’s ok – there are plenty of other places to learn, if my style doesn’t suit you.
I don’t plan to hand out certificates, and I don’t plan to have a graduation show.
I could have, I just chose not to.
Again, my decisions as an instructor.
Will they suit everyone?
Of course not.
Find What Fits YOU
As I stated above, not everyone learns in the same way.
Not everyone wants to learn the same skills.
Maybe you want to learn how to use particles effectively.
Another student may be struggling with how to build a set.
Find out how you learn best, decide what it is you want to learn, and then find the person who can teach you.
Do you want homework and evaluations?
Do you want to work in a group or by yourself?
Do you need one-on-one time with an instructor?
Are you looking to learn basic skills or is there a particular skill you want to learn?
If you are in a class that is frustrating to you, it’s likely because your learning style is at odds with the instructor’s teaching style.
I found myself in that situation recently, so I decided to leave the class.
I wasn’t doing anything but getting frustrated and taking up space in a class that another student could use.
I think sometimes that dancers/students feel there are ‘secrets’ they need to learn in order to improve their performances.
I know I’ve felt that way before.
It’s one of the reasons I started K&M SOPA and why I’m glad to see other schools open as well.
There are no ‘secrets’ – it’s just a lot of hard work.
You will learn more from your own mistakes than any lecture or class.
Are there things that more experienced dancers do?
Are they secrets?
It’s simply taking the time to learn how to make your performances better – whether that’s learning how to use a fader, how to build a better set, or how to tweak your movers so you don’t ‘glide’ across the floor when dancing.
Learning is not easy – it takes time and effort from you, the student.
Teachers can only teach you what they know.
Some are willing to try different methods of teaching to reach a student, some aren’t.
For me, one of the biggest differences between teaching in SL and RL is the motivation of students.
In RL, I often have students who are only there because they are required to be.
They have no interest in the subject and are not really motivated to work and learn.
In SL, you can do whatever you want with your time.
If you’re choosing to spend some of that time in a class learning, to me, that’s an indication of motivation. 🙂
So I teach, I show, you learn, and it’s all rainbows, and unicorns, and glitter, right?! 😛
On a serious note, decide what works for you.
Don’t waste your time, the instructor’s time, or the time of the other students.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that a class isn’t for you and dropping out gracefully.
After a few weeks of teaching classes, I’m starting to wonder if more one-on-one options would be nice.
To that end, I’ve decided to offer one-on-one sessions for students.
Because time is precious and I know that making a ‘scheduled’ class is sometimes impossible, I am offering students the option of scheduling a ‘one-on-one’ session.
These one-hour sessions will be geared towards whatever skill(s) the student is interested in – whether that’s set building, using movers, choreography, critiques, whatever.
This is a new concept for me, and I’m not sure how it will go.
Because of that, the first 5 students who contact me to schedule a one-on-one session will get that session for free.
(Limit of one session per student.)
After that, there will be a charge of $200L per hour if you’re interested in future one-on-one sessions.
Hopefully, this will give students who can’t make scheduled classes the option of learning skills at a time more convenient for them.
Students can choose from any class currently on the K&M SOPA curriculum, or they can request a specific topic.
Topics might include: using movers, costuming, emoting, choreography, set building, texturing, lighting, particle effects, etc.
To schedule a one-on-one session, simply contact me.
IM me in-world (my offlines go to email) or email me at katfeldragonne at gmail dot com.
For those of you who have already taken classes or signed up for upcoming classes – THANK YOU!!
I am having an absolute blast teaching, and I sincerely hope you are all having fun learning. 😀