My Classroom Experience
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My experience in Community-Word Project's (CWP) Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) has been wonderful so far. I am interning once a week with a 4th grade class. When I started, I was so surprised and delighted to know that the students were attentive and were actively engaged in many of the activities. Each week, I observe how my teaching artist mentors, T. Scott Lilly and Mary Cinadr, present their lesson plans to the students and am able to connect what I learned in training to a real classroom environment.
During Scott and Mary's lessons, I have seen the implementation of several techniques that I learned during TATIP training. For example, the "focus bowl" ritual is an introduction activity that helps students relax and channel their energy. In this activity, the students must stay completely quiet for a whole minute with their arms stretched and their hands straight in the direction of the bowl. Although a minute does not seem like a long time, getting 4th graders to be completely silent for that long is amazing! Having seen this ritual in action, I feel like it is the perfect transition to help the students move from school work-time mode to CWP art-time mode.
In our training, Scott demonstrated a technique that is used to calm students and encourage physical self-control. He took us through a series of movements while playing a soft melody. It was reminiscent of yoga. While interning, I watched the students do this same activity. While in a circle, the students were instructed to push, pull, stretch, etc. in the space around them. The challenge of this exercise was that the students couldn't collide with one another. This activity soon became a routine and helped the students ease into a calming atmosphere.
A classroom management technique that I noticed in training was that the teaching artist would clap their hands in a rhythm to grab the students' attention. The teaching artist would clap and we would clap in an identical rhythm as a response. This tool has been very effective in my 4th grade class.
There have been several very memorable moments during my TATIP experience. One moment in particular stands out to me when I think about my experience thus far: During an interactive history lesson, one student in the class appeared to be shy and stood off to the side instead of participating in the activity. As her classmates performed poses (tableaus), this student was timid and reluctant to participate. Scott noticed the student’s behavior and approached her. Instead of pushing the student out of her comfort zone, Scott engaged with her and asked her to photograph her classmates while they performed their poses. She was happy to do so. This was a special moment for me. Scott was aware of every student and was able to be sure that each student participated.
A second memorable moment is when I worked with a group of about 5 students and we had to revise a line of poetry. I was in awe to see how intelligent and creative they all were. I was excited to hear their ideas and poetry elements, such as rhyme, that they wanted to include into the revision. I know for a fact that there are poets in that class!! A third memorable moment is when one student wrote to me on a post-it that I am the very best teacher ever!
Overall, I am glad to have this hands-on experience. It’s a great feeling to be a part of expanding the students’ creative opportunities and learning experiences!
- Cheree Alexander, 2016-17 TATIP Trainee