Co-Teaching, Teaching Paths & Classroom Management


On Saturday December 5th, CWP’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) reconvened after the Thanksgiving Holiday for the 5th installment of the Saturday workshops, at Studios 353 in midtown Manhattan. This week’s theme focused on Teaching Paths, Classroom Management and Co-Teaching a lesson. Renée Watson returned from her book tour and joined Program Director, Patti Chilsen, to once again facilitate the workshop.  

We began the day reviewing how a residency begins, partnerships with schools, and how a Teaching Artist moves into a residency once the organization has established the relationship, setting a planning meeting and working with the classroom teachers.


Next we moved to one of the most challenging aspects of teaching: the Teaching Path or curriculum. As Teaching Artists, we call curriculum’s “paths” because we view them as living documents, outlines that grow and change according to a variety of factors, such as the experiences and development of the students, outside social and environment factors, etc. Teaching Artists recognize the need to be flexible and will adapt our paths according to the students’ artistic growth and interests throughout a residency.


Patti and Renée started by guiding the group through a mock teaching path that spanned a 15-week residency. They modeled the need to work backwards when creating a path, in order to properly scaffold a curriculum.  

Afterwards, the participants were given lab time to meet with their partners in order to start sketching together a sample residency for their Teaching Path assignment due in January.


Before lunch, we had two more teams to present their mock lesson plans for the group.

Gary & Gina explored the ideas of “still life” and music. They had participants begin with a free draw while listening to “Take Five” Dave Brubeck. Gary took us through a quick but very enlightening kinesthetic and visual investigation of 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4 timing before playing the music, since it is important information for the song. Next they laid out an actual “still life” for participants by Henri Matisse, “Still Life with Apples on Pink Tablecloth” 1925

Chaya & Simone took the participants on a journey with “Mrs. Hughes’s House,” from Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. It is a powerful poem about social injustice, and a strong choice to bring into a classroom to expose and interrupt injustice and prejudice. We challenge the TATIP “students” not to shy away from bringing important topics, artists, and works of art into their teaching work. They had us dig into the poem doing a shared reading, highlighting lines and emotions that stood out to us. Chaya as the writer had us fill in a worksheet on the emotions from the poem and Simone, as a movement specialist, had us then create a gesture to express one of the emotions or feelings we identified in the poem. Then the partners taught each other their movements.


Following the lunch break, we delved into a couple other essential topics for Teaching Artists: Classroom Management and Co-Teaching.

The first focus for the Classroom Management was to reflect on strategies Renée and Patti have modeled throughout the course of the training days and then to highlight the most important first step to take for Classroom Management: Preparation as preventative strategy.

Since all Teaching Artists at CWP co-teach, and the TATIP participants are beginning internships at CWP in-school residencies, we reviewed some tips and things to take into consideration when co-teaching. We investigated different kinds of challenging co-teaching stereotypes, working in small groups on a “character” to come up with ways to meet the challenge of working with someone like this. And we invented sketches of characters to convey their tendencies, using the infamous “Little Miss/Mr” etiquette characterizations. 

Stay tuned for next week’s workshop and final installment of the Saturday training sessions! Coming up we’ll see blogs from the trainees themselves as they navigate and explore their internships!