It’s awesome that you have started the journey of learning salsa or any latin partner dance, Welcome to this amazing space. We know that the learning process can be frustrating and a lot of the time we ask the question how can I learn this quicker?
So you might think that the answer to this will be about practice or perfect practice, which while its true in one sense, there is one strategy that is most likely to show more efficacy than practice. This strategy does not involve actively dancing….Whaatt….so I can be a better dancer without dancing you say?
Metacognition has been shown to improve learning in a great way than many aspects of learning or teaching environments that you would consider to drive the learning of a new skill. Its is more effective than things like Time on task, homework, teacher training or quality of teaching (Hattie 2008) for example.
Metacognition is a strategy that goes beyond learning to dance but impacts on anything you are actively trying to learn e.g. languages, on the job training, professional development.
Awesome cool stuff you say…but what is metacognition?
Metacognition means “thinking about thinking” but really its your awareness of yourself as a learner.
Metacognition involves more than just showing up to class. However, showing up to class is great and you will still be learning, but this is something to consider if you are not happy with your progress. A way to kick start is to take a more active focus on how you are learning. There are three times you need to check in on your learning before class, during class and after your class.
So tell me more….How do I make Metacognition work for me?
There are a couple of questions you can use to self direct your thinking about how you are learning at the three stages (Tanner (2012); Promoting Student Metacognition):
Before Class consider these questions:
What do I already know about salsa so far?
What should I be doing to best help my learning during class?
What do I want to find more about this week?
During the Class consider these questions:
What questions do I have during this class, Am I asking these questions in class?
What insights am I having in this class, and what confusions?
After the Class consider these questions:
What did I hear/do today that was in conflict with my prior understanding?
How did today’s class relate to my previous learning?
What do I need o do to get my questions answered and my confusions clarified?
This is a bit of a challenge as many of us think that learning is a function of our natural ability and not something you can do much about, or a function of the quality of the teacher. A Lot of us, haven’t paid attention to how we learn. One of the easiest ways to monitor your progress is to grab a small notebook, and write down names of steps learnt that day and key thoughts raised in class, consider the questions above and note some thoughts. Bring your questions to your next class so we can work through your questions and help clear up any confusions.
Taking a more active focus on your learning process combined with of course going to your classes, listening to music and going social dancing are all key tools to improving your salsa.
Go forth, learn and enjoy your dancing!
Tanner, K. D. (2012). Promoting student metacognition. Cell Biology Education—Life Sciences Education, 11 (Summer), 113-120.
Hattie, John A.C. (2008) Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Routledge: London.