And we're off!
On October 27th, 2017, 38 artists gathered at The Drama League in Tribeca for the opening reception of Teaching Artist Project 2017-18. This group of talented theatre and visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and mixed media artists came together to meet their fellow classmates, facilitators, and mentors in a small reception hosted by Community-Word Project staff.
Artistic Director, Patti Chilsen, welcomed the group and introduced various CWP staff members, including Founder & Executive Director, Michele Kotler, who gave the new trainees some background on the program and why this work is so important today.
In addition to getting to know one another over cocktails, snacks, and games, the trainees had the pleasure of hearing from TAP Alum and CWP Teaching Artist, Javan "Jay" Howard. Jay shared some inspiring words, reflecting on his own experience as a trainee and scholarship recipient in the program.
Jay recently had a chapbook published - America is Me, America is NOT Me - and shared some of his breathtaking poetry with the group, including a piece he wrote years ago specifically about his experience in TAP: "We Were Artists."
The following morning, the trainees gathered once again at The Drama League to commence the first day of training. Patti and facilitator, Karla Robinson, welcomed the group and led them through the first steps of TAP, opening with specific rituals designed to translate easily into a classroom setting, including "do-nows" like graffiti walls and stretching warm-ups to get our bodies ready for a day of learning.
Karla and Patti made examples of themselves by taking the first risks and sharing their art forms: Karla shared a spoken word piece she wrote about one of her students, and Patti sang a clip from her master's thesis based on Shakespeare's King Lear.
After sharing, the facilitators asked the trainees to think first of themselves as artists before attempting the work of a Teaching Artist. They had the participants name some of their creative elements and create "artist maps" of their creative processes.
The trainees talked about why they create first, and then explored how they could bring those elements into the classroom. Reflection is a big part of what we do at CWP and what makes arts education so valuable. This allowed for a rich, deep conversation with our new trainees on everything from articulating creative process to how you handle yourself as a teacher in the classroom.
"Mapping our journeys showed me a fuller perspective to arriving in this program and affirmed my commitment to this path." - Kurt Peloquin
In the afternoon, we got down to the business portion of the program, experientially exploring the trainee handbook and making sure that all participants understood the requirements of the program. This was also the moment that the trainees were able to pick their internships in a CWP classroom, choosing between mentors, schools, boroughs, and art forms. We're happy to report that all trainees have been assigned an internship and many have already entered the classroom!
The day rounded out with an introduction into teaching for multiple intelligences, using Howard Gardner's 9 intelligences as a foundation for learning. The trainees explored the type of activities they had already done in the training and how those could be used in the classroom to both navigate an existing social stratum and create a new space for students. Teaching to various intelligences and learning types allows students to shine in different and new ways that had been previously unavailable to them.
"Intro to Creative Process, Artist Map, and the Gardner's Multiple Intelligences: These aspects were the most helpful as it created a dialogue between my art and myself. It bridged the gap between idea and manifestation, which is necessary to be able to instruct others on the creative process. MI's was something new to me as I have only heard of auditory, kinetic, and visual. This expanded my view on how to cater to others in the classroom." - Jesslyn Blue
We'll gather once again at The Drama League on Saturday, November 4th for our second day of training. Stayed tuned for more information on this burgeoning class of talented artists as they continue on their journey to enhance their teaching practice.