Actor and acting teacher Linda Burden-Williams will begin her fourth decade teaching. For the first time, though, her students will not be theater kids, but actors playing the role of acting students.
There's not going to be one child there. There's only going to be Eric (Braman) and Becca (Schaefer) there, making silly faces at me, Burden-Williams said.
Braman is the arts education manager and Schaefer the program coordinator for theLane Arts Council. On Oct. 2, the Oregon Arts Commission included LAC and WordCrafters in Eugene astwo of 19 Oregon arts nonprofit organizationsto receive $10,000 grant awards thatsupport educational projects in partnership with Oregon schools.
This yearwill be particularly challenging, with social-distancing requirements requiring virtual access. Still, driven by creative spirit, arts educators will not be thwarted in expanding minds with expressive practice. In turn, Lane County kids from the coast to the Pacific crest will have new access to earning essential, enduring competencies.
LAC and WordCrafters will seek not only to engage student self-exploration and expression through the arts, but to enrich the experience with professional practices. Aligning curriculum to specific goals establishes a task-oriented mindset that sharpens soft skills such as critical observation, strategic planning, project presentation and evaluative reflection.
LAC, for example, aligns curriculum-enhancingprograms such asCreative Link and ArtStream to Studio Habits of Mind, developed by Harvard Project Zero researchers. Project Zero aspires forstudents to develop dispositions that encourageauthentic emotionallearning critical to the world outside of the classroom.
Students have to take that step to move forward and then reflect on seeing what you can do differently, Braman said. The goal is to help teachers to understand how to use these lessons as true life skills.
This, of course, is no easy task.
It's a lot of inner work, knowing who you are and what you are and how you get to where you need to be, Burden-Williams said. If you don't have the craft, how are you going to go deeper and understand how to get there?
This is why Creative Link artists like Burden-Williams work not just with one-offworkshops, but as residents who work with teachers for a full day for 22 weeks through the winter semester. LACmatches qualified, diverse teaching artists who collaborate with multi-subject teachers to design lessons that complement and supplement lessons. With visual artists, digital artists, sculptors, painters and on-screen actors like Burden-Williams teaching, no two Creative Link classrooms look quite the same.
Burden-Williams will not only provide in-class, virtual instruction through Creative Link, but is busy preparing progressive yet autonomous theaterarts lessons for ArtStream. ArtStream is LACs newest program. Educators are producing 33 K-8 arts classes with four lessons per class. Braman explains these 132 video tutorialswill extend to multiple art forms, all designed to engage students in digital learning.
"These are not only virtual, but dynamic arts lessons to help teachers teach and student learn lessons in an online world," Braman said.
Giving movement lessons, then, willbe an immense challenge online.Burden-Williams, however, is up for getting down with acting.
It's all performance art. I'm working with their body voice, mind and emotions,Borden-Williams said.
Even with kinesthetic-leaning subject matter, she does not want to overwhelm students with content.
We always do a critical, mindful moments to get them up out of their seats, Borden-Williams said. Breath is really important and stretches and things like that.
LAC is in discussions with several local districts to bring Creative Link and ArtStream to classrooms. LAC hopes, though,to engage not only urban and suburban districts in ArtStream, but toreachfurther into rural communities that may be better able to afford the program online.
Hopefully this provides an income for our artists, as well, Braman said. Theyve already taken a huge pay cut this year with schools relatively closed. Were making sure artists are compensated for their contributed work.
LAC hasreallocated grants from general arts education and ArtSpark funds from previous years and anticipated contributions from its Dec. 4 fundraiser. Fifty percent of LACs revenue comes from school programs fees and 50%from grants and fundraising efforts.
Similar in scope, WordCrafters establishes deep connections with students over the course of eight-week residencies. Education may be online this year, but that not does change artist educator mindsets.
WordCrafterscontracts writer and performer JorahLaFleur to teach spoken word poetry to Lane County Youth Services students at home through the Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center and onsite through the Phoenix Treatment program at the John Serbu Youth Center. Like everyone whos been locked out of their lives, LaFleurs excited that educators are welcoming her back into the fold.
Spoken word engages a skill set that's in line with teacher goals, LaFleur said. But it offers students a way to use those skills that are personal, raw, immediate and therapeutic.
Students in restorative programs strengthen not only hard skills like math and reading, but engage in an organized emotional expression. That takes planning, practice, presentation and evaluation, competencies critical to life.
What is unique in the artist residency experience is that it really speaks more to what it is to be a working artist, LaFleur said. Theyre creating something and, at some point, it gets read or it gets heard it gets seen. There's the potential for a great feeling of ownership and accomplishment in that.
2019 Kalapuya High School students, for example, released "Tired of Talking," a chapbook published as a tangible product symbolizing the culmination of the writing process.
"That's part of what we feel like is unique in the artist residency experience: Itreally speaks more to what it is to be a working artist," LaFleur said.
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