By Kaitlyn McQuin
Teaching is a special kind of career, one that requires patience, adaptability, and a whole lot of coffee. Fellow teachers, can I get an amen?!
As teaching artists, our job, on top of actually teaching, is to inspire our students to be the best version of themselves that they can be through the art form in which we’re trained, such as theater or creative writing.
So what exactly is a teaching artist? Like educators, we’re trained in a specific field of study. For me, it’s theater and film. However, unlike most educators, our qualifications to teach come not only from our education but also from our experience working professionally in our specific field. For example, we may not have a degree in elementary education in order to teach drama to elementary aged students.
Having worked alongside traditional educators in the school system, I’ve noticed that my teaching style is far from traditional. I walk into the first day of class with a plan that allows for ample adaptability according to the needs of those I’m teaching, a teaching style I picked up from acting and directing. When directing a scene in one of our camps, I can use words that I, as an actor, relate to in hopes our students relate to them too. For example:
“When you say your line, say it as if you’ve stubbed your toe.”
Most people, especially energetic children, know exactly what it’s like to run around, hit your toe, and cry out in agony. That phrase “as if” is a a tactic that works for me as an actor. When I apply this technique in my classroom, I see how well it works, yielding the right results.
In my classroom, not only are the students actors, but I am too.
Because we relate to our students on a creative level we can teach them intricacies and practical aspects of the craft. Plus, our real life stories of going on auditions, getting jobs, and shaking out opening night jitters can inspire our students to pursue the arts.
Oftentimes, though we are there to inspire students, it’s the students who do the inspiring and teaching.
In all of the little minds I have encountered over the years, more often than not, they’re the ones who are armed with the lesson plans and knowledge that’s ready to be dropped.
When we take a moment to listen to the kids we teach, we notice that, despite (or perhaps because of their youth), our students have important lessons to share.
As teachers and teaching artists, we’re immersed in what we should be teaching them, and sometimes we overlook lessons that our students can share with us.
As Teacher Appreciation Week draws to a close, we at CARE Actor are recognizing all teachers: for the long hours they’ve worked, the number of clothes now covered in chalk dust, and lunch breaks that aren’t really breaks at all. We are also shining a light on our students, because sometimes they are the best teachers!
Question of the Day!
Do you have any funny or inspiring stories learned from a kid? Perhaps your kiddo has dropped some wisdom at the dinner table, in the car, or on the playground? We’d love to hear it!
Share your stories with us in the comments section of this post or on our CARE Actor Community page on Facebook!
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