I have been teaching drama for 18 years, in a variety of capacities, and for many different age groups. I love the theatre, I love teaching, and I love working with students. I believe education is an invaluable experience of enrichment, and feel the arts should play an important role in all students’ education.
In order to be a strong teacher, I believe it is important to continue to be a student; to encounter unknown situations, to keep my eyes open, and to bring multiple perspectives into the classroom.
And, as a teacher of the arts, I also believe it is also important to continue to develop yourself as an artist. (This I say, but find to be a challenge due to the busy schedule of the school year — any suggestions?)
In 2009 I attended the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the congress, I had an opportunity to converse with international colleagues who believed, like I do, in the power of international collaboration and the arts, and had the opportunity to visit a few schools in the area.
This trip marked the beginning of a new phase in my development as a teacher, and as a student. The journey to South Africa reignited my passion for international education and communication, and encouraged me to seek out other international opportunities for conversation.
Since then, I have made several trips abroad, to present my work at conferences, to visit friends in far flung places, and to develop collaborations between myself and colleagues world wide.
When I learned about the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, I thought the opportunity would be a next logical step towards deepening my teaching practice. When I began the application, the volume of words necessary to reach its completion was overwhelming; couldn’t I just perform a monologue instead?
The application process turned out to be a valuable experience, however. It forced me to identify what I felt passionate about in my theatre education teaching (empathy education), what the root of this was, and how the core manifested itself in my life and my work. I was shocked.
Since I finished the application, I have been doing a lot of reading about educating for empathy, character education, etc., and thinking about how I can be more mindful of weaving this into my teaching. This background reading and research will only help to strengthen my action research project when I go to Singapore in February.