New Professional Development Seminars!


Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) collaborates with a Focus Group Cohort made up of various Arts-in-Education organizations from around New York City.

Brooklyn Arts Council
Community-Word Project
DreamYard Project
Free Arts NYC
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
Voices Unbroken
Wingspan Arts

Previously these collaborations led to TATIP internships at partner organizations, allowing our trainees more experience in various settings and providing our partners extra assistance and an inside perspective on these potential new hires.

This year the Cohort began to collaborate on facilitating elective professional development (PDs) seminars, making the experiences available to Teaching Artists (TAs) at each of the organizations, creating a diverse group of participants and adding a dimension for our Arts-in Ed colleagues to share and expand training for the TA community.

These PDs allow the organizations to get to know the TATIP class as potential hires and offers the class a chance to be inside other organizations to preview places at which they may want to apply post-graduation. They provide new perspectives on teaching styles, approaches and pedagogy. 

The first of these PDs was held on March 22nd, 2015 at Wingspan Arts in the heart of Manhattan. Facilitated by Wingspan’s Education Director, Brooke Rogers, the seminar explored the differences an after school residency poses and the different teaching techniques required to be an after-school teacher. 

“Working with TATIP has enhanced our programming in a number of different ways.  The TATIP participants are a committed group of artists who are looking to increase their knowledge and their experience in the classroom, and they have ongoing access to training and support from the CWP staff while being able to both observe and work with students in our afterschool programs to enhance their skill sets.”  

“Teaching in the afterschool context has a lot of challenges, and having a group of TATIP interns who are able to shadow and work with students in an assisting capacity gives them the time to observe more seasoned Teaching Artists in their element, and allows them to see multiple approaches to different ages and groups, thereby gaining access to the skills that will ultimately cause them to be successful in the classroom without the high stakes of running their own classroom right from the outset.”

“On top of getting to work with and help to develop a new group of dedicated Teaching Artists, partnering with TATIP also allows us to offer some of the wonderful training sessions to our current roster of artists, which deepens their practice as TAs as well.”

Brooke Rogers, Education Director, Wingspan

Community-Word Project Executive Director and Founder, Michele Kotler, acknowledges that these PDs offer new opportunities for TA professional development, because it is “for the field by the field”.

The second PD was on Teaching for Special Needs Classrooms led by CWP TA T. Scott Lilly with an afternoon session on UDL facilitated by Phil Alexander at Brooklyn Arts Council. Phil and Scott coordinated their sessions as models to be built upon. It was a rich and diverse PD, and as Phil Alexander said, “Hopefully I can get a few new hires from the group!” 

Next up, Teaching Alternative Populations, in a new pairing with Victoria Sammartino (previously ED and founder of Voices Unbroken) and Daniel Levy (with 92nd Street Y and Carnegie). They modeled how to use poetry and music in youth detention centers, homeless shelters, and high security prison facilities. Not only did participants learn many strategies from the facilitators, but the experts commented on how much they both learned from each other as well. Another step toward advancing the field! 

The fourth elective seminar was hosted at DreamYard Project on Sunday, May 3rd. The focus was “Social Justice and Art” and was lead by TATIP co-teachers Patti Chilsen and Renée Watson. We explored The Southern Tenant Farmers Union, creating monologues. We drew political cartoons to illuminate social injustices. We wrote poetry celebrating and critiquing our communities.

And we examined the concept of privilege. Very stimulating. It was wonderful to have Rachel Watts of ArtsConnection join our investigations.

“Thank you for reminding me about purpose around the arts and social justice. My mind has been flowing more around these ideas now and it is definitely inspiring me in how I do my work.” 
-Rachel Watts, ArtsConnection

The final exciting seminar offered this year was held at Free Arts NYC with a focus on Creative Writing and Visual Arts. Kai Fierle-Hedrick (Free Arts NYC) and Pamella Allen (CWP TA) joined forces to create a stimulating workshop that appealed to a wide variety of multiple intelligences.

We spent the first half of the day with Kai focusing on Creative Writing and Kai had the Free Arts conference turned into poetry “stations” with a different kind of poem a student could create at each station, such as concrete, cut-up, narrative and spoken poetry.

Then, we switched gears and CWP’s Pamella Allen took the reins and brought us into the naturalistic and logical world of the mandalas. Not only did we create works of art that could easily be integrated into a geometry or science lesson with the Common Core, but we created beautiful mandalas to hang in our windows, as well as “idea books” and haikus to go along with them. 

This year has been a beautiful collaboration of many voices and minds and both our partners and our trainees have benefited from it. Who knows what possibilities lie ahead for next year’s TATIP!