Healthy Relationships, In-Depth Post #3

It’s only been 3 official dance lessons and we are almost done our first routine. That being said, a lot of my progress was also made outside of lessons during extra sessions with my mentor, Mika Backus. She has been helping me polish the choreography taught after each lesson so I would be fully prepared for the following week.

In the past two weeks I have learnt a total of five new moves that include:

  1. Three step spin
  2. Shoulder roll
  3. Door knobs
  4. Running man
  5. Hair flip

All the moves listed above were included in the choreography for the routine I am learning to the song Confident by Demi Lovato (NOTE: a sneak peek of the dance will be added to this post soon, but due to technical issues the file will not be up till later this weekend.) Between lessons with Bev and extra practice sessions with Mika this dance has come really far in a short amount of time. I feel like the mentor sessions in particular have really helped me better my abilities each week.


This past weekend Mika and I met on Valentines day for a hour long lesson to work on the new choreography from the lesson on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016. We started off by walking through the choreography slowly with counting to make sure I understood how to perform each move and what the correct timing was. Following that, I performed the dance once for her at full speed so that she could point out areas that needed improvement. This was a very effective method of figuring out my weaknesses and picking more specific areas to focus on during our lesson. From there we worked on my technique (position & posture) on the moves I struggled with most. Mika focused on my areas of weakness to help me better my dancing the best she could. This really helped me improve both in terms of my technique and my confidence in myself and my performance.

In the middle of our lesson, Mika and I took a break to join Mira for some fresh baked cinnamon rolls and a large class of water each, courtesy of Buzzfeed recipes. This gave us some time to bond and engage on a more personal level. It was interesting to find someone who shared many similar interests in a very different age group. It’s not something that I have fully experienced before. I’ve noticed that this sometimes has to do with adults being less open with children and vice versa, but I feel like our relationship is shaping up to be anything but that. Mika and I think very similarly, which helps us communicate very effectively. I never feel nervous or afraid to ask or share anything. Bonding experiences such as this one (eating cinnamon rolls together) have definitely had a significant impact on bettering our relationship and ultimately creating an open learning environment.

As a whole, I would consider the relationship between myself and Mika very positive. However, that does not mean that there aren’t any areas of improvement. In every relationship there are still weaker areas that both people need to focus. In ours, these include, not talking over each other, and attentively listening to one another. These both go hand in hand with one another in that by bettering one the other gets bettered with it. Both of us tend to get excited and start to speak over each other with the assumption that we know what the other person was going to say. This has not made to great of an impact on our relationship as a whole, but it is an area that could use some improvement. Some strategies that I would like to implement to solve this would be:

  1. Listen more, talk less. Pay attention to what the other person it saying, who knows they might say exactly what you were about to interrupt them to say.
  2. Stay in the present. Avoiding getting caught up in the excitement of the future even if it is only minutes away and focus on the person who is talking now.
  3. Be patient. Let the person finish their train of thought.

Over the course of the next two weeks, Mika and I have planned two more mentor sessions to practice the choreography before the final filming date of our first completed routine. This will be a good time to implement the strategies above and take time to focus on listening, rather than jumping right in as we’ve done in our past lessons. Hopefully this will lead to an even healthier relationship.

Everything Begins with an Idea, Document of Learning #1

Last year our class focused mainly on the development of Canada from different hierarchical standpoints. We discussed the Confederation, the underground railway, the westward expansion, the conflict with Canadian First Nations, Canada’s economy, etc. Throughout the semester I played the role of Mary Ann Shadd, an African-Canadian anti-slavery activist. I watched Canada develop from the viewpoint of a minority group fighting for freedom. It was interesting seeing events and situation from a different viewpoint than my classmates. It made for very interesting and engaging debates that I would like to continue over into this semester when discussing the English Civil War, the French Revolution, etc.

This semester I hope to explore the development of other societies and nations outside Canada, as well as the interactions between various communities and individuals. I would like to further analyze situations and their effects on the development of societies and their people. Everything has a ripple effect, and I would like to delve deeper into what would or wouldn’t have been.

In my mid-term last year my main goal was to engage and participate more in class discussions. While I do feel I have made progress, I do not feel I have fully met this goal and I would like to carry it over into our discussions and role play this year. After reviewing the Core Competencies I realized this connects directly to the Communication Competency. It states, “I can take leadership in a discussion or collaboration, and focus on collective results. […] I offer detailed analysis, using specific terminology, of my progress, work and goals.” In this past week I feel that I have made great strides to attaining this goal through participation and the sharing of my ideas and opinions on the chapter discussed.

The Communication Competency also includes four main facets: connect and engage with others; acquire, interpret and present information; collaborate to plan, carry out, and review constructions and activities; and explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments. I would like to focus on interpreting and presenting information and explaining/recounting and reflecting on experiences and accomplishments. With these specific goals in mind, I hope to apply them throughout the semester while analyzing the development, interactions, and ripple effects of the societies discussed in Social Studies 9.

In terms of the four big ideas in Social Studies 9, the one that stood out most to me was: “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.” This has already come up a lot in the past week during our discussions about Columbus and the relationship between the Europeans and the Natives. I believe the upbringings, power, and religious beliefs lead the two societies to treat the other with the respect they thought they deserved. By this I mean, upon the arrival of Columbus’ ship “the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts.” 1 However, Columbus’ first thought was “They would make fine servants…” 1 One commonality was that they both justified their actions based off their religion and what they were taught to believe. Columbus grew up in a patriarchal society, which does not excuse his actions, but shows an example of how the difference in power balance within their societies led to an unhealthy relationship between the Arawaks and Columbus’ crew.

As the semester continues I hope to explore this idea further. More specifically, I would like to analyze how power balance has affected other interactions between societies in both current and historical times, as well as how it influenced decisions and the making of countries, borders, etc.

In an attempt to explore my chosen big idea and implement the facets of the Communication Competency mentioned above, I have come up with a list of questions pertaining to chapter 1 of ‘A people’s History of the United States’.

  1. Had the Arawaks and Columbus’ crew had equal power how might the situation have played out?
  2. Had Columbus been born and raised as an Arawak, would he think differently? How have his societies morals/power influenced his decisions and mindset?
  3. Why was Columbus’ first instinct to utilize his power over the natives for his own selfish benefits? Why not choose to use it to come to a peaceful compromise? Was it how he was raised or who he was?
  4. Can access to too much power take away a persons humanity? If so, how much is to much?
  5. What drives a human’s need for power?

I hope to discuss these questions further as a class, as well as apply some of the broader questions to other topics down the road. I think that they do not only apply to the Communication Competency, but more directly relate to Critical Thinking Competency. It states, “I can examine evidence from various perspectives to analyze and make well-supported judgements and interpretations about complex issues.” While this is not my main goal for the semester, I hope to continue to apply the facets of the Critical Thinking Competency to better succeed in meeting my goals within the Communication Competency. With better thinking comes better communication.

Overall, this past week has gotten me very excited for socials this semester and intrigued about the discussions to come.

1.Zinn, Howard. “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress.” A People’s History of the United States: 1492-2001. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 1. Print.

First Dance Lesson, In-Depth Post #2

On February 2, 2016 I attended my first dance lesson since my tiny tots ballet classes at the age of three. Let’s just say, ballet didn’t stick. Hip hop on the other hand was a whole new world. It was nothing like ballet. There is a much greater focus on attitude and much smaller focus on technique and perfect posture.

When I arrived at my lesson on Tuesday night I had no idea what to expect. I approached the door alongside Anne excited about the new opportunities. The moment I walked through the door the dance instructor, Bev Soh, took one look at me and said “I’ve taught you!” After some discussion of where we could have met we realized she had been a substitute teacher for Mr.Beveridge when I was in the MACC class at Kwayhquitlum Middle School. On top of that she also taught the dance unit to my PE 7 class. While you might not think it, this gave me a great sense of welcoming and comfort in the environment that only grew as the night went on. Bev maintained a very open and supportive environment in her class. She 12669291_526694584176588_951299010_otaught the moves while keeping everyone comfortable and included throughout the whole night. Even though Bev is not my “mentor” I do feel I have learnt a great deal from her as a leader. Some of her main strategies included, taking initiative, engaging with each of her students (getting to know each one on a more personal level, and using humour to keep a positive mood.

In terms of new dance moves, I have learnt a total of 5 new moves. These include:

  1. Body roll
  2. Shoulder shrugs
  3. Hip thrusts
  4. Hip ball change
  5. Slide and step

The following day I was able to meet up with my official mentor Mika Backus who also takes hip hop lessons from Bev at Room to Move Dance and Fitness Studio. Below is one of her group routines from the ‘Music video Hip-Hop’ class at Room to Move Dance Studio. Mika is second from the left and Bev is third from the left.

Before that, she took lessons from an array of different studios that specified in different dance styles. These studios include, Caulfield School of Dance, Coastal Edge Dance Centre, Prism Dance Centre, and Tri-City School of Dance, specializing in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, can-can, salsa, chacha, and more. She has been dancing for over 20 years on top of her full time job as a paralegal assistant, wife, and a mother of two. Since she was little she always had a passion for dance, but her mom forced her into piano instead so she did not get the opportunity pursue dance as a serious hobby till much later in her life. During our lesson she said, “When I joined dance, I loved it instantly. It felt so natural.”

In a matter of one week, I feel like I have gained a great deal of new skills from Mika as a dancer. One note that we both noticed from my lesson on Tuesday was that I was very stiff, but I feel that in just one hour Mika was able to help me improve drastically. She helped me become more comfortable in my skin and let loose to improve my attitude for our first routine choreographed by Bev Soh to the song Confident by Demi Lovato (the final dance will be posted at the end of our 5 week course). I am very excited to demonstrate my new skills at our next lesson.

On top of that, Mika demonstrated a lot of qualities of a good leader/mentor. I noticed that she planned her lessons around what I wanted to learn and my personal goals for the project. She created a very free environment where I could pitch ideas and ask questions as an equal rather than someone of a lower standing. I very much appreciate when adults talk to/treat me as an equal and create an environment where I feel comfortable to have a real conversation as appose to the awkward back and forth that can happen between adults and kids/teenagers. Mika also helped me evaluate my own progress by filming me at the end of our lesson so we could watch and reflect on what looked good vs. what I needed to improve on.

For future endeavours as a leader I hope to take away many of the skills both Mika and Bev used in their teaching styles; including, taking initiative, using humour and warmth to create a welcome environment, engaging with my mentee (taking into account their opinions), and treating the mentee as an equal. I also hope to take videos after all my sessions to log my improvement in the course and note what needs to be improved for the following weeks to come. Overall, I am very glad I chose this project and very fortunate to have such wonderful mentors guiding me through this process.