Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Past, Present, Future: An Inside Look at Metro Theater Company’s Teaching Artist Fellowship

Greetings from St. Louis!  Five years ago, the team at Metro Theater Company committed to offering a seasonal position for an emerging professional in the field.  As internships and fellowships function in a variety of different ways at organizations across the country, we are delighted to share some personal perspectives on our Teaching Artist Fellowship.

PAST:  2011-2012 Teaching Artist Fellow, Meredyth Pederson

Meredyth Pederson using puppetry to explore Australia with 2nd grade students at Jefferson Elementary School in St. Louis. Photo taken by Janelle Brooks.

Meredyth Pederson using puppetry to explore Australia with 2nd grade students at Jefferson Elementary School in St. Louis. Photo taken by Janelle Brooks.

As I jumped into a graduate program in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities this past fall, one of the most important things I brought with me from Metro Theater Company’s Teaching Artist Fellowship was a variety of experience. In addition to teaching a range of curricula in a variety of contexts, I developed deep relationships with a number of different co-facilitators. I facilitated some residencies on my own, some in a teaching artist team and others as an (active) assistant. These different teaching lenses allowed me to see the classroom dynamics in different ways and try new things for myself. Each residency taught me something new about myself. The wide range of teaching and learning experiences, combined with a supportive learning environment, set me up so well for graduate school. The Teaching Artist Fellowship at Metro Theater Company profoundly affected how I teach and learn. The whole Metro Theater Company staff became my family. The company’s investment in my growth prepared me to jump into this next chapter of life with confidence, self-awareness and an even deeper passion for teaching artistry and theatre-making for youth.

PRESENT:  2012-2013 Teaching Artist Fellow Amanda Pintore

Amanda Pintore (seated on floor), exploring tableau to convey emotion with 1st grade students at the French Language Immersion School in St. Louis. Photo taken by Karen Weberman.

Amanda Pintore (seated on floor), exploring tableau to convey emotion with 1st grade students at the French Language Immersion School in St. Louis. Photo taken by Karen Weberman.

As I stand at the halfway point of my Teaching Artist Fellowship for Metro Theater Company, the road behind and the road ahead look equally bright. I came to Metro Theater Company with the very specific purpose of developing my philosophy as a teaching artist. This Fellowship has given me the opportunity to examine not just how I teach and what I teach, but most importantly, why I teach.

I am in the midst of working with young people on topics such as building community, friendship and communication, literacy skills, and peer leadership. Along with working in schools across St. Louis, I have had some unique opportunities: teaching in a French immersion school, working with a group of young people in the foster care system, and collaborating with an amazing group of supportive teaching artists. Each experience is unique and asks me to push, create, reflect, and question what I can do to grow alongside the young people I see every day.

As I move forward with the Fellowship, I know two things. First, the programs awaiting me will include a variety of age ranges, topics and challenges that will provide first-hand teaching experience. Second, I will leave this fellowship as a stronger collaborator, teaching artist and person

FUTURE:  Education Director Karen Weberman

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The Teaching Artist Fellow is integral to the education team and organization. We are a small organization that produces an enormous amount of work; therefore we work closely together to successfully implement all we do. The organization views the Fellow as a critical member of the team who is encouraged to have a voice in the organization.

The Fellowship is an exciting position that offers extensive and diverse opportunities for learning because the work we do takes us in many different directions. On any given day the Fellow might start the morning co-teaching an early-childhood program focused on literacy and creative drama in an affluent neighborhood, spend the afternoon exploring the eco-system through puppetry with first-grade students in a lower-socioeconomic neighborhood, and teach an evening session with teenagers who are navigating the foster care system in which the topic is exploring self-worth through improvisation and spoken word.

The education team highly values pedagogy and practice, so as a team, we strive to deepen our practice on teaching methods we emphasize in our residencies. We get up on our feet and explore creative movement, test drive activities, discuss how to reflect and question in the classroom, and have a LOT of fun while doing it!

While the main responsibilities of the Fellow involve education programs, both teaching and administrative projects as assigned – there are also opportunities to collaborate with other departments and to participate in new work development. The Fellowship offers tremendous possibilities for learning and collaborating with a team that is committed to nurturing meaningful learning through the arts, and developing bold work for young people and adults. Prior to Meredyth and Amanda, our first three Fellows were Chiara Lovio, Amie Dunn Kisling and Beth Slepian. We delight in sustaining relationships with previous Fellows as they continue to do incredible work in the field of theatre for young audiences/theatre education.

If you’re interested in applying for our 2013-2014 Fellowship, please visit us at:

http://metrotheatercompany.org/about/work-with-us/work-with-us/

 

 

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