Teaching for After-School


The 2016-2017 trainees are in the second half of Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP). The elective seminars provided by TATIP have been enriching my fellow Teaching Artists and me with new tips and skills to incorporate into our residencies. The first elective seminar I attended was called “Teaching for After-School” and was held with Wingspan Arts, an arts education nonprofit that is a part of the TATIP Cohort. This seminar made it evident that TATIP and its organizational partners have mastered modeling!

At the seminar, we were provided step-by-step tools for interacting with elementary school children. To do this, we acted like young students and the seminar facilitators acted like our teachers. They demonstrated how to engage with students and how to run a class, starting from the process of taking attendance to exploring the different art forms of theatre, visual art, and dance. Our facilitators were very transparent about not being “experts” in every art form but they were quite courageous. In one of their activities, the facilitators creatively incorporated theatre and poetry in ways that were appropriate for young elementary school students. For example, we played a game where we were to identify a “friend” and a “bear.” As everyone moved around the room, we were to stay as close as possible to our friend and far away from our bear. In conjunction with this game, we explored a poem by Shell Silverstein and discussed the connections between the two art forms. This seminar will be great to think about when I transition to P.S 279 next week from The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS).

This past week was my last day at TYWLS. I had such an amazing experience interning with Teaching Artist Katie Rainey in class 413. The young women at this school are the leaders of tomorrow and model what it means to be a sister and friend. My partner, Jennifer, and I facilitated a workshop focusing on stereotype versus the one authentic self. We asked the girls in their 5-minute free write, which is a part of their weekly opening ritual, to discuss the stereotypes that they have been most associated with and to respond to these typecasts. I shared a poem titled “Queendom” that modeled the poem guidelines: include one stereotype, explore your authentic self, and include a cliché. The workshop flowed so effortlessly; the girls were open, vulnerable, and confident when they shared their poems. I was so excited to finally interact with the girls and actually share my work. I believe the girls were really inspired by this workshop and I hope some of them stay in contact with me in the future. It has been such a pleasure to experience TWYLS. I hope to work with this school again later in my Teaching Artist career.

Queendom by Rabih Ahmed

They would always see me as the aggressive woman
The mad Black woman
The assertive woman
But its because they couldn’t see the woman that walk with me 

My crown, so big
They couldn’t see the Queendom behind me
The reigned power for centuries
My magic so magical
The sun has nothing on me
My laughter so loud
There is no hushing me
No quieting me

So don’t bore me with your cliché’s
Cliché’s are nothing but he says and she says
They say, “God will not give you, what you cannot handle”
So with the weight of this crown
I look at myself
Straight in the mirror and learn everyday
How to love me
All over again
And again
And again… 

– Rabih Ahmed, TATIP Trainee 2016-17