A Season of Collaborative Elective Seminars


For the last several years Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) has been partnering with other local arts-in-education organizations to expand professional development offerings.

What began with 3-4 organizations collaborating to offer additional professional development seminars and workshops to the TATIP class, has now bloomed into a “TATIP Cohort” of 13 organizations joining in to offer these seminars and workshops to the TATIP class and to partnering organizations’ Teaching Artists. CWP presented the TATIP Cohort at the National Guild Conference in Philidelphia last November and at Face-2-Face in New York City this April.

This year, the TATIP Cohort offered twelve different professional development workshops and seminars to the trainees and partnering Teaching Artists. Our friends over at Teachers & Writers Collaborative did a series of spotlights on the attendees of these seminars and you can find out more about that in their online magazine

In January, Brooke Rogers of Wingspan Arts facilitated a workshop on “Teaching in After School”. Brooke led the group through a variety of fun community and trust building exercises. CWP Program Director of Training & Internships Patti Chilsen led a quick poetry writing lesson where the group wrote a poem about Martin Luther King Jr.. Then, the group discussed differences between the two approaches. Lastly, the group did several puzzle configurations to reflect possible ordering of the “Habits of Mind”. It was a fabulous experience and Brooke will be missed by TATIP!

Next up: Teaching for Social Justice with Renée Watson and Patti Chilsen. DreamYard Project opened their arms and their doors to host this elective seminar. The workshop began with a graffitti wall reflection on photos depicting Social Justice, Equality and Equity with a rich discussion on interrupting injustice. Then, thr group dug into a session on the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, examining historical photos and text, role playing and monologue making. The facilitators used Bree Picower’s Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum and DreamYard’s Framework “Empower. Create. Connect”. That was followed by an “I Am Not” poetry writing session, which lead into creating collaborative “body maps” and wrapped up with the Power and Privelege Game. A powerful and soul searching session!

The third elective seminar was hosted by Brooklyn Arts Council. Teaching for Special Needs and Universal Design for Learning were the topics facilitated by Martin Urbach of Marquis Studios and Phil Alexander of BAC. Martin took the group through explored strategies for working with special needs with music and multiple intelligences. The participants ended up painting with chocolate syrup – a delicious way to finish the morning. Then, Phil lead us through a PowerPoint on the Brain and Critical/Creative Thinking, next allowing participants to come up with lesson ideas scaffolded from the UDL system. Another eye-opening workshop!

The next two elective seminars were another back-to-back experience, these both hosted at FreeArts NYC in collaboration with Teachers & Writers Collaborative, which kicked off with Sarah Dohrman of TWC taking us through an incredibly scaffolded session on ekphrastic poetry, an intricate annotation around images and the poem of “Landscape of the Fall of Icarus”. That was following by a session around poetry and small group community responses. In the afternoon, Kai Fierle-Hedrick stepped up to lead us through a visual arts seminar. The permanent marker drawings on contact paper were a highlight! We discovered we all could draw!

After that, there was a fabulous elective seminar with the National Dance Institute, hosted at their gorgeous facilities uptown – and we discovered lo and behold that we could all dance! That is because of the layered approach NDI takes with their students, using inquiry based learning and safely measured risk-taking movement discovery. The space was filled with light from the two facilitators – Emily Meisner, Director of Professional Development and Jennifer Eisenberg, Master Teaching Artist – and the joy the participants experienced dancing and creating movement pieces together. We couldn’t be happier that NDI has joined in the journey with the TATIP Cohort.

Next up, the Center for Arts Education hosted a workshop led by Eva Pataki and Holly Fairbank around working with English Language Learners (ELLs). The session used visual arts as a starting entry point for building creations based on concepts from National Geographic articles on storms, volcanoes, and animal habitats. What a unique way to build trust and vocabulary skills at the same time! This is another new collaborative partner that the TATIP Cohort is thrilled to work with.

MagicBox Productions hosted the next seminar at the Center for Social Innovation in partnership with New Victory Theater. Courtney Boddie lead the day with an in-depth exploration of the Teaching Artist Pathways (TAP) Tool being developed by New Victory. For a morning that began soggy and groggy, the group was sparkling by lunch with a new understanding of how they came to be where they are in their Teaching Artist work and with new possibilities discovered by all. After lunch, Briggite Dix of MagicBox took the group through a PowerPoint and a series of exercises around using media arts to investigate their surroundings. Their perspectives were definitely altered by the end of the day.

The final elective seminar was another back-to-back packed day hosted at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute. Victoria Sammartino of Voices Unbroken, a long time collaborator, showed a PowerPoint of her journey using writing to work with youth in Alternative Populations. It was an inspiring morning and many were moved to consider this as an option for next steps in their career development. The afternoon was facilitated by Master Teaching Artist Daniel Levy. Daniel spoke with us about using music while working with people in detention centers and prisons. He modeled his atelier approach as he then took the group through a mini jam session where the participants composed music step-by-step on glocks to his guitar riffs. It was an exhilarating and informative afternoon. Our minds were filled with new possibilities.

Twelve workshops over eight different weekends, January through April. It was a rigorous and rich path and TATIP is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of collaborators. This graduating class has been super fortunate to have the exposure to many organizations and many different approaches to being Teaching Artists.

Thank you, TATIP Cohort!