These events are always energizing, surrounded by fellow Teaching Artists in the spectacular Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. We were in the education center, separate from the main grounds, but there were some nice, large installations in the building. Still inspiring.
The topic is Reaching All Children: How Your Teaching Artist Practice Can Embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These are the new, hot-button issues for teaching artists, and how we have unique opportunities to model our skills for teachers and school staff. We are learning to recognize how some kids are challenged by our own biases as well as systemic biases that we all have: race, gender, class, etc. There is some good research going on that I won’t go into here.
We have to create welcoming environments, be able to check in with students, get their feedback, and hold ourselves accountable for our actions and reactions. We did looked at case studies on how we might react to various situations: gender bias, stereotypical humor, others. Enlightening, to say the least. Lots of concept wrestling.
We also did several group exercises to get the blood going in the beginning, after lunch, and at the end. As the day finishes, we all come away energized and sharing a nice communal glow. It’s particularly nice when we meet colleagues from past seminars, trade stories and genuinely care for each other. The new TA’s also get a sense that they are in the right place, with folk who have experience in these studies.
There was a peacock patrolling the grounds outside the meeting room, giving us all a glimpse of the exotic. Nice touch.