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The ABCs of TAP: Our 2018-19 Program Begins

Whew. The first month of the 2018-19 Teaching Artist Project has gone by in the blink of an eye. The room has been full (31 trainees this year!), and the dialogue has been rich.

On October 19, 2018, we hosted our Opening Night, filled with introductions, art-making, and a few heated rounds of some of our favorite board games. Then, the very next day, we dove straight into our work together.

In Workshop 2, we dug into our own experiences of and core values about teaching and learning. With a focus on the concept of multiple intelligences, Workshop 2 had us writing, talking, moving, and making as we began to develop our own teaching artist philosophies.

Ahead of Workshop 3, we gathered for the first of four Teaching Artist Salons. Co-hosted with the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Teaching Artist Affairs Committee, the Salon provided trainees and other teaching artists from across the city the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and resources, and make art.

Then, Workshop 3 sparked critical conversations about how our identities affect our teaching artistry, setting the stage for our ongoing work to navigate the realities of identities and relationships forged at the intersection of race, class, gender, and more.

We've got one more workshop before going on a brief hiatus until December, but the takeaways are already numerous. In some ways, we've gone back to the basics in this first month. But in most cases, we've discovered that "the basics" are not so basic at all. As such, the ABC's of TAP are complex, ever-evolving, and oh-so-important to the work of teaching artistry:

A - All about the learner. Our facilitators have stressed over and over the importance of centering students' lived experiences - as well as their diverse strengths and intelligences. And what's more? They've modeled this by centering the lived experiences, needs, and knowledge of the TAP participants themselves as we embark on this journey together.

B - Big picture questions. Our world demands that all of us - and perhaps especially artists - grapple with the complexities and challenges that we and the communities with whom we work face. As such, we're not shying away from kaleidoscopic conversations about how power, privilege, and accountability take shape in the classroom and beyond.

C - Community is key. And of course, none of this can happen alone. TAP is dedicated to community at all levels - through the TAP Cohort, ongoing professional development for practicing Teaching Artists, and through the gathering of this year's 31 TAP trainees.

As we deepen that bond, and build relationships with the broader ecosystem of teaching artists and arts-in-education organizations throughout the city, you'll get to hear more from the diverse and brilliant folks we're lucky to count as part of our community this year. I hope you'll stay tuned.

Amanda Newman is a community-engaged dance artist and Community-Word Project's 2018-19 Social Work Fellow as she pursues a master's in social work at Hunter College. She is also a participant in the 2018-19 Teaching Artist Project.

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