Teachers and Artists: A symbiotic relationship

ArtistsInspire pivoted from April to July 2020 to offer arts and learning online for people of all ages. We are delighted that our participants include many teachers! From Toy Theatre to Doodle Challenge and Spoken Word, teachers attended with and without their students, creating engaging intergenerational exchange and art-making, while learning new strategies and skills for the classroom. This music video from Message in a Bottle is one example that highlights the sights and sounds of participants’ home environment, regardless of age.

What have ArtistsInspire online workshops meant to you?

“The interactivity of the workshop is incredible for students… She has an incredible ability to bring you into a conversation. She makes you feel at home, in spite of the fact that the topic is extremely complex and difficult.” 

-Teacher speaking about  Deanna Smith’s workshop: Canada too, eh? Anti-Black Racism, and a poet’s thoughts on what we can do about it

On a personal level, Shelly Sharp, an Elementary Art and Science Specialist at Coronation Elementary Schools says, “During the lockdown with Covid-19, I participated in three of the ArtistsInspire on-line workshops and they helped me in two fundamental ways: the first was to enjoy the relief of a creative session when I was feeling very angry and threatened by a potentially unsafe situation and the second was a means to explore my emotions and process them rather than numb them out or suppress them. These experiences highlight the power of the arts to help us maintain mental well-being and build tools for resilience and creativity. I have had experiences with seven different artists within the ArtistsInspire program and have found their teaching to directly support mental and emotional well-being through art activities”. Shelly’s experience is supported by evidence-based research on the arts and mental health including the BBC Arts Great British Creativity Test, a survey of 50 000 people that shows participants in arts activities “avoid stress, free up mind space and improve self-development, which helps build self-esteem”. The BBC’s conclusion?” Creativity really does boost your mood”.

 

As an opportunity for professional development, a teacher-participant in artist Laura Teasdale’s Comedy Improv for Kids told us, “It helped us prepare for going back to school. All the games that we played in the workshop we can use with kids at school or… at home with distance learning.” Another teacher in Comedy Improv said she would use activities from the workshop in summer camps, at school, with her family and friends and… everyone she knows!  When asked if she would recommend this workshop to others, she says “Oh, definitely. It was so much fun the first time round, I did it the second time.” When speaking about her experience in Lisa Kimberly Glickman’s Tesselation Art, she says:“ I do replacement in an art class, ⦗I will use what I learned⦘ to show them something different that they can continue to do at home, instead of just at class.” Another teacher, after attending the first session of Louise Campbell, Jessica Houston, Guillaume Jabbour, and Paula Knowles’ Message in a Bottle workshop, brought his entire elementary music class to the second session.

 

Feedback from classroom teachers motivates Artists and the ArtEd Team. One teacher-participant says, “Your approach to people was very relaxed, open & sincere. I could not wait for your workshops, they gave me something to look forward to every day. Your artists’ love of art shows in how they interact with everyone on zoom.” Yet another teacher shows her appreciation for Deanna Smith’s depth of knowledge, compassion and teaching skill shown in her workshop Canada too, eh? Anti-Black Racism, and a poet’s thoughts on what we can do about it: “The interactivity of the workshop is incredible for students… She has an incredible ability to bring you into a conversation. She makes you feel at home, in spite of the fact that the topic is extremely complex and difficult.” 

 

Drawing on this feedback, the ArtEd Team is currently consolidating learning from spring/summer on-line programming and promoting the program to educators for the 2020-2021 school year. The investment in learning to master online art education facilitation with our Artists will enable us to offer Quebec’s English public Elementary and Secondary schools high quality virtual and in-person learning over the coming school year and beyond. From the pleasure of being a participant and making art to developing new skills to implement in in-person and virtual classrooms, teachers are enthusiastic about our Artists. Would you recommend other teachers take these workshops? Our teacher-participants respond with a rousing ‘Yes.’ Let’s work together to bring quality arts experiences to our children and youth!

 

 

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ELAN is an official minority language organization within a country that recognizes two languages as official. ELAN is located in Tiohtiak:ke, the original name for Montreal in Kanien’kéha, the language of the Mohawk—also known as Mooniyang, which is the Anishinaabeg name given to the city by the Algonquin. While we are based in this city, our projects have also taken place in many regions across Quebec.

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