New Vic Teacher Institute: Summer Intensives are week-long courses that are offered during the summer months as an opportunity for teachers to work in the New 42nd Street Studios as artists and educators to develop and/or build strong strategies for teaching and learning in the performing arts.
As I stood back and felt the energy in the first few moments of the Summer Teacher Institute and watched teachers trickle in, I realized it was very similar to the beginning of any semester in The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York. There was an enthusiasm in the air that was ready for play, as well as gather knowledge. As a co-facilitator, along with Courtney Boddie, Associate Director of Education for the Education Department at The New Victory Theater, I knew that those who were participating in theater course Process and Performance: Devising Original Theater Work with Students, were going to learn a lot!
|Discussion first! Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos|
Pre-service teachers often have questions. Although there is a desire to use the arts in the classroom, there may also be hesitation. Questions arise such as will I lose control of my class if I use theatre? How can I have them create something, take risks, respect the rules of the school? How can I trust my students to work well in this environment? What management strategies can I use? I am a big believer in ensemble building. It is important to take the time to develop the group dynamics and then move forward with a lesson, rather than plow through for fear that an end goal may not be met. I have faith in the students that I work with and through my experiences I have found that if a teacher spends the time creating ensemble and developing a culture of learning, it will pay off. I often say: “If you have a class that cannot make a circle, they will not be able to develop a performance. Spend the time making that circle. It will pay off in the end.” Not only will spending the time to get your students in a circle, or ensemble, pay off, the support that students develop for each other will teach them how to work together.
|Working on "Yes and..." Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos|
We asked teachers to think about artistic experiences they may have had in their lives that might have contributed to their desire to use the arts in the classroom and the importance of creating those same experiences for their students. I hope that teachers left our Professional Development with tools as artists and teachers, inspired not only to use the artist within each of them while working with their students, but enthusiastic about the prospect of using more theatre arts in the classroom.
Sobha Kavanakudiyil Paredes has been a Teaching Artist with The New Victory Theater for eight seasons, with The Educational Arts Team for nine years, Adjunct Faculty at New York University, Hudson County Community College, and is currently Full Time Faculty with The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York, CUNY. You can follow Sobha on Twitter @sobhakparedes and at www.sobha.net.