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Why Teach?

For this CWP Staff Spotlight, we sat down with Program Director for Teaching Artist Training & Internships Patti Chilsen and asked her to talk about how she came to do the work that she does, its impact on her and those around her, and what it means to teach for social justice. When did you first know you were a teacher? Maybe I started to know when we "played school" as children and I often chose to be the instructor. I took another step closer to knowing, while at Viterbo College, taking an education course and, yet another step, while living in Denver working as a teacher assistant at Denver Academy for the middle school. Somehow, I knew it when I went to select a Master's Program because

What I've Witnessed

My experience with Community-Word Project's Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP), thus far, has been invigorating and enlightening. Through the constant intermixing of poetry, movement, song, and reflection I am grateful to have been accepted into TATIP. There are trainings that have the reputation of being dull, lecture-style, and time consuming. On the contrary, TATIP keeps me attentive, inquisitive, and moving! I really appreciate all of the physical activities that are incorporated into the lessons. Specifically, with these movement-based activities, I noticed that it demands everyone's minds and bodies to be present. In addition to this, the constant modeling of concept

Transformative Mistakes and Vulnerable Bodies

First day in class. I feel excited and a bit anxious – as always when I am starting a new experience. The teachers welcome us and, as a way to introduce themselves, they share their own art. A poem gets read, some music played, a song sung. And while we listen and watch… it happens: a little mistake. A perfect one. The performer acknowledges her mistake while going on singing, her apology becoming an improvised line, sang aloud as we audience members smile, get moved and feel suddenly closer to one another. Here it is, our first lesson. We all make mistakes and, as teachers, we should never forget that, not even – especially not! – in front of our students. Vulnerability is a word that came

Reflecting on Our Final Workshop

Wrapping up several weeks of our Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) workshop training has shown how rich and dense the Community-Word Project training really is. This past Saturday, December 10th, we closed with some new thoughts and resources on classroom management. We also took the time to reflect on our graffiti walls and have some of the questions from our question gardens answered. It was at this point that I realized just how much we covered in such a short span of time (6 weeks). Classroom management and scaffolding alone can take several weeks. The beauty of the program, however, was that it interwove and gradually introduced and exemplified these processes during

Endings & Beginnings

On December 10th, TATIP reconvened at The Drama League for the last Saturday training day of 2016, a day focused on reflection and looking ahead to spring's opportunities. Led by facilitators Patti Chilsen and T. Scott Lilly, the trainees set about the day by warming up with a little movement and rhythm opening ritual. As usual, Scott used his Tibetan singing bowl to draw us into the movement. Then, it was time for our final team to present their lesson plan presentation, a visual arts and writing inspired piece. Afterwards, we turned our attention to the main topic for the day: student assessment. Our activities focused around two central questions: How do students know if they are meeting

We, Too, Are America

On December 3rd, TATIP reconvened for Day 5 of the training. However, this wasn't our usual training. We traveled uptown to the heart of Harlem and spent the day discussing and practicing what it means to teach for social justice in the brownstone that the poet Langston Hughes once inhabited. We had the pleasure of being the first artist collective to rent and use the space all thanks to former TATIP Facilitator Renée Watson and her new nonprofit I, Too, Arts Collective. A special thanks also goes to her assistant Kendolyn Walker, who made the day possible. The name I, Too, Arts Collective comes from the Langston Hughes poem "I, Too". I, Too by Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967 I, too, sing Amer

Reflection & Assessment: Building on Our Foundation

TATIP came together once again on November 19th for the fourth Saturday training day at The Drama League in lower Manhattan. After a brief warm up led by facilitator T. Scott Lilly, the trainees settled in to watch two more lesson plan presentations that we weren't able to fit in the previous week's schedule. We're lucky to see so many different presentations from these multiple perspectives. This way, we get to try new ideas and learn from one another's mistakes. After that, we took time to reflect on the collaborative lesson plans through graffiti walls that prompted us to think about things we learned by observing our peers facilitate lessons, things we learned about co-facilitating, etc.

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