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Let me tell you about Andrew. He'd given me the most resistance of any of my students. His resistance was aggressive to the point of yelling names at the teacher who urged him to positively participate. We'd had about eight classes, so I knew to be prepared for Andrew's reactions; I knew how to "manage" him, but had yet to see him thrive.
One morning, I taught the class a dance, with an energetic song to match. We worked on the dance for a while before adding the music. Andrew's focus shifted immediately when there wasn't verbal conversation-just the direct experience of moving to music changed his attitude. His eyes locked with mine, and he did the dance in full three times, until he was smiling and class ended. As the kids lined up to go, I told him, "Andrew, that was fantastic! Your concentration was on. I want you to remember that. You are an incredible dancer." He didn't say anything, but his eyes shone and he looked back at me as he walked out.
On my next break, I looked over and saw his head peeping in the door. He'd come back during recess. I told him again what a great job he'd done, and he said, "I'm not playing any more, Miss Brooke." He was a leader in class for the rest of the residency, and a year later, he always gives me a hug when I see him.
- Brooke Gessay, Performing Arts Workshop Artist Mentor