What kind of Teaching Artist am I? (Ultimate Blog Challenge #4)

I was going to go off on another tangent for this blog post when I read, and was moved by another blogger’s posting.  I strongly suggest to anyone, who has had a teacher leave a positive effect on your life, of someone you care about, that you should read Rebuilding Tori: The Teacher Who Touched My Life. I also suggest you pass that on to someone who is supporting all the teacher attacks out there. Teachers see the kids during more time then most parents, and should be given their due. Yes, there are a number of teachers who just coast once they hit tenure and feel overly secure. The teacher Tori talks about is NOT one of them, and there are, thankfully, more of these out there then the coasters.

How do I know? I am a certified New York State Drama Teacher, who worked for the NYC Dept. of Education. Yes, worked. The restrictions of the system after running my own theater company for 12 years just did not sit well with me in really any way. I spent 12 years of touring, performing, and leading workshops for all ages (k-12, college, and Professional Development programs). Kind of hard to be tied down in one room, day after day, week after week, seeing over 500 kids a week, and dealing with the politics of the school itself and the entire juggernaut of a system. Let alone a principal that..well, leave it at that, and fill in your own nightmare.

I became a teacher, getting my MA in Educational Theatre, because over the years I was constantly being told what a great teacher I was. The comments all came from all the coaching and leading Drama and Storytelling workshops, from students, teachers and other adults I had the pleasure to work with. I was due for a change: running your own theater company for 12 years is a great accomplishment, but I was itching to do something more. So…full time teaching!

Going back to being a Teaching Artist (TA, for those in the know) has reopened a lot of creative possibilities for me again. As I search for new gigs and new creative ventures, I’ve also had to write a gazillion cover letters. I JUST had a conversation with my buddy Sam about cover letters: Letting the potential client know what you can do for THEM, not just talk about what you can do. The subject heading, then, is slightly misleading. Reading Tori’s piece, and then connecting it to my conversation w/Sam, I guess this should be about:
What kind of “What Can I Do For YOU (&/or your school/community/workplace)” am I?

I think that’s a goal worth exploring. You can learn what I DO at my website BornStoryteller. But, do I really express on it what I can offer YOU? There are bits and pieces, esp on the Workshops page, but… what I do does have so many layers.

What you can gleam off of my work, for yourself:

  • Doing what you are passionate about
  • Gaining self confidence
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Learning to say YES to new possibilities
  • REALLY learning how to communicate: Listening, taking it in, and THEN responding
  • Being in the moment
  • Taking risks
  • Learning from things that don’t work out exactly how you think they should
    • This is not “From Failures”.
    • The only failure, in my book, is not trying at all.
  • Finding the everyday successes and embracing them
  • How to build team work/ensembles

The above are life lessons, but they are embedded in the Drama and Storytelling classes/workshops. I only skimmed the surface. I didn’t include all the educational connections that are made. I probably will in another post. This is what Arts in Education can offer.

I know I’ve touched students. I still have a number who communicate with me, years after. My favorite comment  from a student I reconnected with after five years: “You were the coolest teacher at (the school).”

I can’t think of a better compliment.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. T.S. Redmond-Mize
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 20:24:43

    The other thing that I don’t think people get is this- you may not have kids, but in the hands of teachers lies the future of our nation, of our society.

    Why wouldn’t you support that? Why wouldn’t you want to do all you could to ensure that future generations aren’t falling through the cracks, you know? To me, that just sounds not only very selfish but very myopic. World’s still gonna be here when we’re gone, you know?


  2. bornstoryteller
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 20:29:53

    Here here! It’s the same for me when it comes to global issues: I have heard, and it sickened me, “Why should I care what goes on in ______? I don’t live there.” Yeah, this was basically what was said to me.

    We live on one world. Get over yourselves.


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