I was looking forward to returning to my TATIP internship at PS 132 after the winter break. It’s so lovely to walk into class and hear the students say, “Good afternoon, Miss Krystalla!” It’s especially lovely to see the earnestness in their faces as they try to remember and correctly pronounce my tricky name.
I noticed the students’ eagerness to learn from my first lesson. Now that I am taking a more active role in the classroom, it is incredibly rewarding to help them work through problems, ask them follow up questions, and then see them arrive at solutions by themselves.
I am interning in a third grade class with Elizabeth and Sheldon as my mentors. Their residency covers poetry and theatre. The students began the residency analysing Lewis Carroll’s narrative poem The Crocodile. Through this work of art students learnt about the key ingredients of a narrative poem. Then they created their own poems, both individually and as a class, that celebrate their individual heritages, cultures and experiences, while also creating a space to build and foster empathy for others.
Prior to winter break we created a community poem about Super Robot who saves the world in his pink pants. Then students created narrative poems individually. They chose their main character – a person, animal or machine. In addition to writing their own poem, they created a gesture for their character, taking their stories off the page and incorporating the theatre of storytelling.
A key objective articulated in Elizabeth Leonard and Sheldon Best’s (my mentors) teaching path is to instil a wish to write in their students. This was a challenge expressed to them by the classroom teachers. Last week, I very much saw this taking place in the classroom.
We returned to their community poem about Super Robot and chose two lines and changed them so that they described the class and their community:
“We fly on metal wings and see the tall buildings of New York City,
We’re smart, we’re brave, we can save the world.”
These two lines will be part of the community mural that the students will make later in the residency. As we decided on these two lines – through suggestions and a vote – the students’ excitement to contribute and share their opinions led them to verge on unruly and Ms. Elizabeth and Mr. Sheldon had them return focus by a call and response exercise.
After the class calmed down, students were split into four groups and wrote two lines per group to add description and setting to their community poem. I moved around the classroom working with the students. It’s so wonderful to see them making connections between storytelling and writing poetry; to see their wish to write; to observe the development of their individual and shared voices. I’m looking forward to seeing how this continues as they add theatrical elements to their work this coming week.
-Krystalla Pearce, TATIP Trainee, Theatre Artist