On October 28th, the first day of the 2017-18 Teaching Artist Project (TAP) training, the Community-Word Project facilitators asked my cohort of 30+ multi-disciplinary artists:
When is the first time you shared your art?
What can’t you create without?
What do you want your art to do?
After posing the aforementioned questions, the facilitators asked us to free write about our artist map. A few individuals shared. We continued on with the day as our facilitators guided us through additional activities and reflective moments.
I learned a lot on this first day. My biggest take-away was that this training would teach me, among other things, to connect the artist and educator parts of myself. I was simultaneously in awe and overwhelmed. I was just beginning to accept that I am an artist and now I had to insert a teaching aspect that, before the first day of class, I had not thought about so introspectively. It seemed a bit far-fetched.
Fast forward to our sixth workshop: We’ve already been placed in our residencies, created collaborative lesson plans, and are learning and reflecting on how to be equitable in our philosophies and pedagogies. We are incessantly urged to listen to the room and invite the voices of all our students into that room. Our TAP facilitators model this invitation every time we come together, as they invite all of our voices into the shared space. When we are queried and endowed with opportunities for introspection and reflection, it helps us to fuse the person, the artist, and the educator. It ensures that we are putting our whole selves and voices into the lesson plan, and thus, bringing them into our classrooms.
Artists can be extremely introverted. Nonetheless, we cannot ask of our students that which we cannot or are not willing to do ourselves. Sooo... how do we invite our students’ voices into the room and empower them to use them? In teaching for social justice or, as I prefer to say, social equity, inviting all of the voices into the room means: We must also invite our own voices in.