Contributed by Amanda Newman
To work closely together with one other person, practicing the skills of observation and focus.
To understand the concept of mirroring as it connects to the dance and theater toolbox of essential skills.
- Model the instructions first.
- Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate and stand face to face with that student. “I’ll be the leader first and you will be the follower”.
- Rub your hands together to generate some heat and tingle then place your hands palms facing out and invite your partner to do the same, with just a few inches of space between your palms.
- Narrate as you move, beginning small and noting that the follower is mirroring your movements as closely as they can – WITHOUT TALKING.
- You might start with just hands and arms then introduce movements of the torso, head, legs, feet, etc. Note that you’re moving slowly at first — the goal is not to trick your partner!
- Finally model bring your body (and your partner) to stillness to end your turn. Explain that after one partner goes, the other partner will have a turn to lead.
- Remind students that this is a silent activity then break them up into partners.
- Ask them to decide who is leading and who is following first then cue them through beginning the activity.
- It can be helpful for the TA to narrate and provide reminders throughout the activity, cue students to come to stillness, then cue them to switch roles.
- Lead a reflection afterward about what was easy / hard, what strategies students used, what challenges they encountered, etc. Tailor the reflection for the students’ age.
- To increase the challenge:
- Invite students to do another round in which there is not one leader and one follower. Instead, leadership passes back and forth without students saying anything. This is helpful to model first.
- Students can also begin to travel through the space with their partner. Discuss the importance of moving slowly and safely and being aware of other pairs.
Transition into Activity
Introduce the concept of mirroring. Ask students what a mirror is and does. Where in our day do we see and use mirrors?
Transition out of Activity
Easier: Students can give a “mirror high five” to their partner — as close as your high five can get without touching! — and move back to their seat
Harder: Challenge students to mirror their partner all the way back to their seat, safely navigating around other pairs and classroom barriers.
This is best with open space around each pair so they can use a fuller physical range. This can also be done seated in which case students may need some support moving their seats to face their partners. If you expect pairs to travel through space at any point, be sure the space is clear of obstacles or potential tripping hazards.
- Visual vocabulary (or an actual mirror) can help introduce the concept.
- Some students may need to actually touch their partners’ hands.
- Students could also both hold onto an easily grip-able object and move that between them.
- Eye contact during this activity can be intense, so students can also look at their hands or other moving body parts rather than into their partners’ eyes.
- For some students, the activity might work better if their palms are actually touching their partners or if a classroom professional is assisting with movement by supporting student’s elbows, under their hands, or hand over hand.
Role of the Teachers and Paraprofessionals
- Support to create strategic pairs. This can work well by pairing students of similar or mixed abilities.
- Act as a student’s partner. If this is happening, best for the adult to be at eye level with the student.
- Could also act as a third person in a pair, using hand under hand support to help a student mirror their partner.
This can be harder in remote settings, it works best to have one leader that the entire group is following, or you could try with each pair in breakout rooms (if there are enough adults to supervise).