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The Teaching Artist Institute Seminar Begins!

Last year I wrote about my visit to a puppet maker’s house that appeared to have stepped right out of a fairy tale. 

Good things spring out of visits to once upon a time land. 

 While I was at Michael and Judith Cotter’s home (owners of Blue Sky Puppet Theater) I picked up a brochure for a course called The Teaching Artists Institute (TAI) administrated by Young Audences/Arts For Learning.  

I read that TAI is a professional arts-in-education program for teaching artists and classroom teachers.  Both learn what the other needs to flourish.  Their collaboration ends in a minimum four day residency for the artist in their teacher-partner’s classroom that would hopefully lead to many other similar residencies. 

It sounded good. 

The deadline was imminent. 

I applied on the last day and at the last hour and it has filled the first few months of 2011 with learning and delight!

At the beginning of January, twenty five amazingly talented artists from the fields of music, dance, art and theater (which includes poetry and storytelling) gathered in Salisbury on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for a 3 day intensive seminar launching a six month course to learn how to present their craft in schools incorporating both academic standards and 21st Century Skills.  Partner-teachers joined on the third day

21st Century Skills intrigued me. 

Last November I saw the documentary Waiting For Superman. This film outlines the problems inherent in the American public school system resulting in a increasing inability to produce enough educated graduates that can adequately compete with their peers from other nations.

A considerable percentage of students from failing schools end up in prison with no qualifications.

This was real to me. 

Many of the men under my care while I was a Chaplain at the largest men’s prison in Maryland came from such schools.  One of the benefits of the prison system, in Maryland at least, was that it was compulsory for high-school dropouts under 25 to get their GED (or at least attend classes.)

21st Century Skills was developed as a response to the nation's educational crisis.

A group of top educators and business people joined forces to decide what skills young people needed to succeed in today’s world. 

They narrowed the selection down to creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and social and cross cultural savvy.

TAI leadership were delighted as they realized that many teaching artists were already naturally incorporating these concepts into their classes.

The seminar teaches participants to be aware of the standards and skills and shape the work they are already doing in a way will have the greatest impact in the classroom and in students’ lives.

One of the wonderful things about the course was that from the first hello there was a joyous sense of collaboration between the teachers of the course – all professional teaching artists – and the artists themselves.

Teaching sessions sizzled with creativity and rocked with laughter. 

Professional collaboration was entered into. 

Friendships forged.

On the third day the teacher-partners were introduced into the mix and another layer of mutually beneficial collaboration began.

The TAI course consists of the retreat followed by several Saturdays working on the new residency, including one day recently where we got to see segments of other people’s work.  The residencies themselves will happen in April and graduation will take place in June.

I will be going into the absolutely delightful Elizabeth Braden’s 8th grade language arts classroom at Southern Middle School in Severna Park, MD teaching students to tell folk tales and personal stories as well as how to listen to others and how to best connect with an audience.

Such fun!

I have learned so much through TAI!  Besides academic concepts I have discovered the joys of beat boxing, steel drumming, collaborative dance, vaudeville mime including juggling and plate spinning, play writing and deaf theater and I have been knit into a supportive network of teaching artists. 


There is hope for America’s school system.

It is called arts-integration.

It results in students imbibing urgently needed 21st Century skills almost by osmosis – and certainly with laughter.

Creativity is a powerful tool.

And that is no fairy tale!






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Reader Comments (3)

Thank, Geraldine, for such a wonderful description of your experience at TAI!

May 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Barbosa

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March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTechhuntz

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March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTechhuntz

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