Danielle Bennie is the Head of Dance at Bethany College Hurstville. Dancing since the age of 3, Danielle loves spending time with her daughter, Ava, 6 and her two Burmese Cats, Moe and Curly.
Hi! I am: Danielle Bennie
I teach at: Bethany College Hurstville
I’ve been here: 13 years as Head of Dance.
I first began dancing: Age 3, at Michelle Anne Dance Academy.
I first began teaching: in 2004, at Bethany College!
My favourite style to teach: Lyrical.
The most special teaching memory of my career: To single out one special moment is very hard. Every year I enjoy watching the students develop their talents. Seeing where they start to where they finish is special for me to observe. I also love it when even after they have left year 12, they come back to me and tell me what they’re up to.
The most ridiculous thing that has ever happened in my classroom: I held a practical dance lesson in the school’s hallway between classes due to a timetabling error. I had a teacher walk out of their class to turn off my music!
The greatest teaching success I have enjoyed was: The successful results my students have achieved in the HSC. In addition to having students in my class place first, third and fourth, over the last three years, 90% of my students were placed in the top 20% of the state.
My proudest teaching moment: Establishing a student teacher initiative for the extra-curricular dance program known as “Team Dance Bethany”. By acknowledging the choreographic talents and leadership potential of students, I enable the students to build on their capacity by giving them the opportunity to organise, audition and mentor students. Many of the student’s works have placed in Dance competitions ranging from Catholic Dance School Competitions to the City of Sydney Dance Eisteddfods.
Pedagogically, I specialise in: By taking the time to know both the student’s cognitive and physical ability, I create learning experiences for the students that cater for their ability, this differentiated ‘low entry/high exit’ approach enables the students to challenge themselves at their levels. Also, by giving the students the opportunity to be stakeholders in their learning, they develop an ownership and maturity. I find that knowing your student and establishing a student-centred approach is an authentic way to teach in this modern setting.
One tip I’d give graduating dance teachers in their first year: To develop professional relationships. Uni does a great job in developing teaching practice and content so the teachers coming in, are very competent in these fields. However, I advise new teachers to be aware that the teachers in their new schools come with a wealth of knowledge in theory, management and structures. Listen to them, ask them for advice and develop these relationships. This way you are building your teacher credibility.
A short learning experience, programming, administration or student-management trick which never fails: Make sure you are organised! Write/type everything down in your planner whether it be electronic or old school day planner!
My favourite aspect of teaching in a school is: Providing a holistic approach to dance. Not just focusing on the movement but providing an in depth theoretical perspective of dance as an artform.