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Where Dreaming Stops & Dreams Begin

Kym Boyce and Martha O’Connell share a conversation about their experience collaborating as practicing teaching artists with Community-Word Project's Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP).

Martha: While my Saturdays spent with TATIP have been transformative each and every hour, I would like to give a mighty shout out to one specific TATIP-inspired muscle: Collaboration (as cheesy as it may sound)! Kym Boyce and I have been designing a sample lesson plan and working through the complexities of combining our overlapping arts media: Visual, Media and Performance Art. It has truly been a process of Magic, Surprise, and Growth as an artist, teacher, and friend.

Let’s talk about the steps we’ve taken as fabulous new TATIP collaborators!

Kym: Yes, it has been quite the experience with CWP as teaching artists in training, especially alongside our mentor teaching artists T. Scott Lilly and Elizabeth Leonard at PS 132 Juan Pablo Duarte school in Washington Heights, and the students at the Highbridge Green School, where Martha and I have had the wonderful opportunity to workshop some of the theory and the lesson plans we’ve created.

We redeveloped “Multimedia Mondays” within the acting & film group at Highbridge, as a way for students to engage with multiple disciplines within the realm of visual arts, use of theatre and the performance arts to explore themes of identity and community. This will enroll students' specific interests through literacy and the arts in way that activate the multitude of student learning styles and intelligences.

With a student-centered approach, we started by surveying our students, in the 6th and 8th grades, about what they wanted to achieve most from our time together and, it was their specific responses that informed our work and gave us a rich start.

Martha: Through discussion, sharing of resources, and more discussion, we have been building a collaborative process of:

  1. Designing lesson plans and teaching paths

  2. Testing out those plans with TATIP

  3. Testing those lesson plans out at Highbridge Green Middle School, where Kym is a teaching artist! It has been an honor to be invited by Kym to co-teach and workshop parts of our ‘Langston’s Quilted Dreamcatcher’ lesson plan.

Kym: One of the greatest takeaways we’ve gained in our journey with TATIP has been understanding the intrinsic value of interdependence through both collaboration and scaffolding. Scaffolding is the weaving of our artistic objectives, with the creation of something tangible, wrapped in the meaningfulness of life lessons.

Educator and activist, Cornel West once said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” Having Martha share her time and talents volunteering with our middle schoolers has been nothing less than an act of love. Together, we encourage the students to believe in the beauty of their dreams, lift up their visions for a transformed world, and to show up in their lives every day, with the classroom as their sounding board. As co-teachers, we get to call each other in and lift one another up, and as co-learners, each of us is empowered through the arts.

Martha and Kym: The process of collaboration as new teaching artists (TATIPees) has revealed:

  1. Ideas that lead to more ideas

  2. Sharing resources (poems, images, quotes) sparks each collaborator in different ways, leading to MORE ideas!

  3. Combing through lesson plans with another set of eyes fine-tunes everything

  4. Co-writing through Google Docs is a great method for refining, refining, refining