Something I’ve really valued over the course of TATIP is the opportunity to observe and be mentored by so many different Teaching Artists.
I interned in two different CWP school classrooms in addition to electing to intern at a Wingspan Arts afterschool program. So I was mentored by five Teaching Artists in addition to observing Patti Chilsen, Renée Watson, all of the seminar leaders and my fellow classmates teach throughout the program. While I hope to continue to co-teach throughout my career, the opportunity to be in a classroom in the less active role of observer is a rare one and has helped me refine and reflect on my own teaching style. I was able to evaluate whether I would make the same choices or different ones to those of my mentors. And I learnt many games, problem solving techniques, phrases and classroom management strategies that I have already started using in my own teaching.
Here are some highlights from my three different internships:
After observing a class in which students at PS 132 wrote their own poems, I was perplexed by the “video-game style” violent content in some of the poems. I was able to discuss this with one of my mentors at a TATIP debrief session. We talked about the precarious line between allowing students’ to pursue their own creativity and deciding to say no to a student’s idea. The conversation was helpful to both of us and my mentor suggested encouraging students’ to find ideas from their own imagination rather than what they have seen on TV.
I presented my own lesson at PS 316 and was encouraged by one of my mentors to focus the lesson on something from my home country. I took his advice and was really proud of my lesson and felt great comfort and ease in teaching it. I imagine that if he hadn’t advised me to include my heritage in my lesson, I would have chosen something that I felt was more relevant to the students. I learnt that sharing my passion and knowledge could be just as relevant to my students.
In my final internship at Wingspan Arts, my mentor invited me to have a more active role in the classroom. She discussed her planning with me and made time for us to check in at the end of each lesson and discuss what worked and didn’t work and how we would move forward the following week. She invited me to lead a section of all classes and encouraged me to contribute to her teaching with follow up questions. This was a great way to end my TATIP residencies, providing a helpful and healthy model of co-teaching that I will carry forth beyond the program in my own co-teaching and lead teaching.
-Krystalla Pearce, Theatre Artist, 2016 TATIP Graduate