The Orientation and Training Institute (OTI) for my ArtistYear AmeriCorps service year was amazing! It was so wonderful to be around like-minded individuals who share the same passion for arts education. We were exposed to incredible arts leaders from across the country. I had several major takeaways from training. First Todd Breyfogle, the Director of Seminars for the Aspen Institute, stated that as teaching artists “we plant the seed and water them.” He went on to say that this requires an act of faith, hope, and love. This resonated me because it related back to Eric Jensen’s point in his book “Poor Students Rich Teaching” that as educators we must first develop a relationship with our students. Students won’t begin to work for you until they know you care. I believe that our job is to empower kids to believe in themselves and expose them to new ways of thinking and creating.
In our training Mike O’Bryan, Youth Programs Manager for The Village of Arts and Humanities and an advocate for youth rights and social change in underserved communities stated that we have to “amplify, share, and give voice” to our young people. We then become stewards of voice. I learned that the arts have the ability to create platforms in which students can express themselves. As someone who is interested in theatre for social change, I loved how Mike mentioned that art could be used to help students process their own narrative. The challenge that I will have to embark on during my service year is giving students the opportunities to write and perform stories that matter to them. In training, Mike gave us a quote that translates the transformative power of stories. It states, “stories are the vehicles that move metaphor and image into experience… stories communicate what is generally invisible.” I realized that in order to accomplish this in my classroom, I must first create a safe and charged place where students feel comfortable expressing themselves.
I am super excited for my service year in Queens, NY and I can’t wait to share my artistic abilities with young people!