Memory, Movement & Feeling


For my partner Chaya and I, teaching our lesson plan was both exciting and a bit nerve-racking, but in the end it all went smoothly and we learned a lot of lessons along the way. We started class off with Jashua and Adia’s opening ritual, Little Sally/Jackie Walker. Then we continued on with our lesson plan focused on memory, movement and feeling words.

First we read Mrs. Hughes House”, a poem by Jacqueline Woodson in Brown Girl Dreaming.

My grandmother drops us off and
the other kids circle around us. Laughing at
our hair, our clothes, the names our parents
have given us,
our city way of talking–too fast, too many words
to hear at once
too many big words coming out of
my sister’s mouth.

I am always the first to cry. A gentle slap on the side
of my head, a secret pinch,
girls circling around me singing, Who stole the cookie
from the cookie jar and
pointing, as though the song is true, at me.

Excerpt from Mrs. Hughes House

After reading the poem, Chaya asked the kids to point out different feeling words and I wrote them on the board. Then, we gave each small group a feeling word and asked them to create a movement reflecting the word. One group had happy, another group worked with scared. Each group presented their feeling-movement in front of the class and then we passed out worksheets that were scaffold a certain way to eventually help students create their own memory poems. On the worksheet (that included examples of what we were asking) we asked the class to:

1. Write down one sentence of a memory from your past
Example: “Eating Raspberries from a farm in Montana”

2. List three words or phrases that describe this event from your life
Example: burst, bright red, night

3. List three words or phrases that describe feelings that you had/ have about this event

4. Use all six of the words/phrases from this worksheet to write a poem on a separate sheet about the memory you wrote down for question #1.

We didn’t get to finish the entire worksheet, but I think it would have been very interesting for the students to read their final memory poems and present them through movement!

During the debrief session the following Monday, TATIP trainees received feedback about our lesson plans. Everything I heard from my mentors on how to improve really stuck with me, especially working on my teacher persona or presence. I’m usually an introverted person (I can be extroverted though at times) and when I feel like I’m sending out bubbly energy or projecting my voice, I’m usually not doing that. Teaching is such a big and significant responsibility and, even during student-led teaching, the teacher plays a huge role in learning. It’s one of the reasons why I’m hell bent on being the best Teaching Artist I can be because I don’t want to do a disservice. I’m going to work on understanding myself better when it comes to classroom presence and also challenge myself in different ways that will help me be the best person I can be personally and as an educator.   

 -Simone Johnson, Dancer, TATIP 2016 Graduate

Interested in TATIP? Find out more about our 2016-17 program!