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Mapping a New Path

Reflection is vital. This is something Teaching Artist Project Artistic Director, Patti Chilsen, has emphasized over and over throughout our Saturday workshops this fall. Slow down. Slow yourselves down. Slow your students down. Just… slow down and consider what you’ve done and what you are about to do. I find myself having to actively remind myself of this at every turn. Quieting my mind, not rushing into things, careful consideration – these things don’t come naturally to me. I want to rush forward, plowing ahead toward the next thing. But I stop myself because I know Patti is right. When I reflect, I learn. And when I guide students to reflect, they learn. An exercise that clarified this

Teaching Artist Training: A Lesson Within a Lesson

Naysayers argue that art cannot be taught, you have to be born with intrinsic artistic talent. The folks at Teaching Artist Project think otherwise and, as a part of their 2017-18 batch, I'm inclined to agree. You walk in as a TAP intern believing that you will be trained to modify your artist's language. Surely, a fifth grader cannot be expected to understand your highbrow art-talk. And surely, you won't be taught how to teach your art, you're its best representative. But a few minutes into your first training session, you realize that all the ways you've been taught to pursue art were severely shortsighted: systems designed to encourage natural curiosity while leaving behind all those who

Poe-etry, Goosebumps & Silence as Thick as a Heartbeat

It may take a village to raise a child. To get a classroom into poetry, it takes artists. P.S 279 is named for Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr.. Rivera's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City, and settled in the Bronx. Manuel Rivera, Jr. was the first serviceman of Puerto Rican descent to die in Operation Desert Shield during the Gulf War. Halls and stairwells are thick with posters advocating tolerance, showcasing educational resources, and reminding students that everyone has a right to go to college. Given its cross-cultural history and activist stance, P.S. 279 is an apt setting for Community-Word Project's work. With T. Scott Lilly and Katie Rainey, it kicks off with a trip to Edgar

Building Community & Teaching Tools

During these first few months in Community-Word Project's Teaching Artist Project (TAP) Saturday training sessions, I’ve learned how to create a cohesive and fun lesson plan with another Teaching Artist. But learning how to create a cohesive lesson plan took time. In our first Saturday meeting, our mentors helped us create an environment where we felt comfortable enough with one another to share our ideas. The facilitators asked us to come up with something called an artist map. Afterwards, they asked us to share our artist maps with our peers. I remember feeling embarrassed at the thought of having to share mine, but everyone I shared it with was supportive and friendly. Creating a safe spa

Who Are We As Artists?

There is often a sense of worry that accompanies a commitment of your time and money into professional development programs. Especially in the city, where there are infinite number of options in every medium and, no matter how much research you do, it is almost impossible to be certain of what you’re going to get. As a theatre artist and musician who has been in the game for a few years now, I am confident when I say that investing in the Teaching Artist Project may just be one of the best things I have ever done for myself and for my career. It was clear to me even before the first workshop that I made a good decision. The whole process of getting from application to classroom was extremely

We Are Citizen Artists

The work we’ve been doing in our Teaching Artist Project workshops so far has me thinking more and more about the tricky nature of teaching for social justice - when should it be implicit and when should it be explicit? This question also conjures up, for me, questions about the term 'Teaching Artist' itself, and leads me to lean more towards a term recently brought to my attention: Citizen Artist. As it was defined for me by Eric Booth, the father of the Teaching Artist profession, a Citizen Artist is one who seeks to live through art, and therefore many of their interactions with peers and community become teachable moments through art practices. A Citizen Artist is always living artfully

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