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“Teaching Tips for Foremen” – review of the talk by Emma Wooders

Review of the talk given by Emma Wooders on 27th February 2022 via Zoom.

Clive Du’Mont of the Knights of Kings Ina in Somerset (and other teams) writes:

“Emma has worked in schools since 2004 and is now a Head of Department teaching 9-13 year-olds.  She’s also been a dancer and musician with various Cotswold and Molly Sides and is currently Foreman for Windsor Morris.

“Emma’s first slide – “I’m a fraud!  They’re on to me!” – reinforced her self-effacing message that she had no monopoly on what is the right or best way to teach, whether in school or the Morris.  The aim of her talk was to explore how her experience as a teacher impacts on her practice as a Foreman in respect of the dancers’ needs, stressing that there’s no ‘approved’ method for any teaching and that she was seeking to offer only ‘food for thought’ about what we teach and how we teach it, based on her approach in the school classroom.

“Comparing the aims of a school teacher with those of Foremen, Emma identified several shared and contrasting characteristics, noting that…

  • Emma Wooders slide on SequencingForemen are there to learn and enjoy too, as well as to teach
  • rewarding progress reaps benefits
  • checking and correcting understanding is essential

“She also pointed out that all in the Morris are volunteers and equal.  Any authority is granted by mutual consent and others present – in contrast to school children – are themselves likely to hold authority in their own spheres.

“Knowing the subject (e.g. the dances), presenting clearly (e.g. demonstrating), responding and adapting (e.g. mutual learning) and then all using their new knowledge effectively (e.g. practice and reinforcement) are core to the Foreman’s role.

“As with teaching, Foremen need to be able to …

  • Emma Wooders slide teaching modelsee beyond the obvious
  • be mindful of their own blinkered perceptions
  • recognise individuals’ confusions or difficulties
  • focus on and return to positive learning outcomes
  • deal sensitively with negatives or problems without allowing them to become dominant

“Turning to specific techniques, Emma explored a very wide range of ‘tips’ that would help Foremen lead and teach effectively.  Space here doesn’t permit a summary in sufficient detail to do it proper justice, so suffice to say that aspects of these elements were covered in some detail …

  • personal approach and attitude
  • behavioural psychology
  • recognising established norms and expectations within the Side
  • planning and execution
  • learning needs, processes and impediments,
  • individual safety in dance
  • role sharing and succession planning
  • practice methodologies

“The last of these, in particular, included a range of interesting approaches that most Foremen would probably never think of (IMHO).

“Hands up!  I’m not a Foreman, never have been, and couldn’t be if I tried.  After starting off as a dancer in 1979, I ‘evolved’ to become a musician hopefully before my own poor dancing could irretrievably contaminate my understanding of the musical needs of the dance!  I attended Emma’s talk in anticipation that there’d be snippets of insight that I could apply myself in other contexts – and so it proved.  I have no hesitation in saying that her wide-ranging yet enticingly detailed content would indeed prove of benefit to anyone having any role involving the delivery of guidance, coordination and the development of others’ knowledge and skills, especially in a team setting.  It was also ‘easy listening’.  As and when a recording becomes available to view, I would hope that every Morris Foreman will make a bee-line for it.

by Clive Du’Mont of the Knights of Kings Ina in Somerset (and other teams)

Donations from participants raised money for one of Emma’s school’s chosen charities for this year, The Children’s Society: Donate | The Children’s Society (


For further reading, Emma recommends this web site: The Complete Guide to Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction ( which lists key principles of instruction and has a link to the fuller document …

Principles of Instruction (PDF 32 pages) by Barak Rosenshine, Educational Practices Series vol 21, 2010, International Academy of Education (IAE), International Bureau of Education (IBE)

If you missed it … the unedited video recording is available on request – contact us and use the dropdown for ‘events’.

About Emma Wooders

Emma Wooders is currently foreman of Windsor Morris as well as dancing with The Outside Capering Crew and playing for The Rumworth Morris. She has been morris dancing since 1994 when she joined Oyster Morris, danced for eight years with Gog Magog Molly, and is a three-time winner (and two-time judge) of the John Gasson Jig Competition.

Emma has called for ceilidhs and workshops at Sidmouth Folk Festival, as well as running workshops as part of her morris foreman’s role.

In her spare time, Emma teaches Science (and a strange mix of other subjects depending on what the timetable demands – currently it’s music) at a Windsor middle school, where she runs a small but very busy department.

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