Monday, February 2, 2015

Spotlight: Local Teachers Further Their Own Education

We all know how hard teachers work, but the Orpheum regularly has the pleasure of spending time with some very dedicated educators. These tireless teachers, who after a long day at work and hours of grading ahead of them, come to the theatre for professional development workshops to improve their experiences in their classrooms and continue their own educations.

Recently, the Orpheum hosted two workshops, "Poetry Off the Page" with Glenis Redmond and "Addressing Bullying Through Drama" by Stacey Coates.

Glenis Redmond teaches poetry to creative writing
students at Georgian Hills Middle School.
Both of these workshops were developed in association with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and encourage educators to use arts integration in their classrooms. Arts integration is an approach to teaching that engages students in a creative process connecting an art form with another subject area to understand lessons in both.

In the first of these workshops, Redmond brought tools for teachers to inspire young poets and enhance the quality of writing among all students. Performance techniques accompanied her lessons to empower students to perform as well as write their own works. Through their own writing and performances, teachers left this workshop with an arsenal of skills to help their students, including:
  • Using brainstorming techniques helping students strengthen their vocabulary and knowledge base
  • Teaching similes, metaphors and other poetic devices to enhance students' writing skills
  • Developing their own poetic voice to help students' find their own

Redmond also spent some time with area students, taking them through the lessons she had passed along to local teachers, including the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade creative writing students at Georgian Hills Middle School, seventh-graders at Kate Bond, and Orange Mound students in grades 6-12 at RedZone.

A group exercise during Stacey Coates' bullying workshop
was a fun way for the teachers to act out supportive techniques.

In Coates' bullying seminar, the teachers engaged in exercises aimed at creating empathy and confidence with each other -- exercises that these educators can practice in their own classrooms. Participants learned to encourage students to examine tolerance and support one another through drama exercises. From group experiences to improvisation exercises, teachers can adapt the techniques for various grade levels, content areas and the needs of special learners to create more harmonious classrooms. Thanks to these new skills, students will learn how to:

  • Identify others' feelings
  • See others' perspectives
  • Respond empathically
  • Use problem-solving skills to decrease aggression

Coates also had a chance to share her skills with students during two classroom visits, with fourth-graders at Promise Academy and seventh- and eighth-grade art students at Mt. Pisgah Middle School.

The Orpheum will be attending workshops at the Kennedy Center this week to prepare for its Professional Development Workshops for 2015. Watch our website for more information about upcoming programs, or email Rachel Knox, professional development coordinator, for additional information.

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