A: As the sole dance educator in a private school, I don’t have the benefit of a team around me to collaborate (and commiserate) with. Several years ago, I remedied this by organizing a gathering of New York City dance educators in independent schools. We wanted to keep the conversation going after the meeting, so I started an online and e-mail forum using Google Groups. With a forum, someone can ask everyone a question at the same time and receive replies.
At its simplest, a Google Group is a way to send an e-mail to many people by only typing in one address. Then, when someone replies to that e-mail, everyone can see the reply. It’s like having a conversation with a group of people without being in the same room together. With Google Groups (or Yahoo Groups), your conversations are saved; you can log in to the group and see the conversation at any time. And since the e-mail is going to just one address, it won’t end up in your spam filter. If you don’t regularly use Google or Yahoo, there are numerous free web services, like ProBoards, that will host a forum that members log in to see.
The National Dance Education Organization hosts some of the best online forums for dance teachers. At ndeo.org, you’ll find forums like: K–12 teachers; Higher Ed; Dance and Disability; Private Sector; Men in Dance; and more. Some of these forums have hundreds of members, so you’ll get access to a great knowledge base.
Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.
Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld