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I can’t believe I get paid to do this!

by Chad Dike, Teaching Artist at Widen Elementary School

I first heard about Theatre Action Project and the amazing work this organization was doing 3 years ago. I checked out the website and thought to myself… “If I ever end up in Austin, that’s the work I want to do.”

Little did I know, 3 years later, my wife and I would make the long journey from Washington DC to Austin. I immediately responded to the teaching artist call and was hired for classes.

The last 2 months have been a whirlwind. It started with an audition (that, let me say, was some of the most fun I have had as a teaching artist), then 2 weeks of training (with talented teachers and artists sharing the ideas), and then finally a classroom with my students. The amazing staff has been there guiding me and my fellow newbie teaching artists through it all.

Now, I find myself smack in the middle of my second week at Widen Elementary (a brand new school to TAP After-School programming)! These are some of the most open students I have worked with in my 5 years of experience. I had a group of 4th grade boys who created a beautiful and frightening tableau (a frozen picture that tells a story) of a student in the middle of a playground who was clearly injured. There was an aggressor, by-standers, police, and paramedics all in this one moment. This tableau sparked a conversation about middle school and the fears that come with moving to a new school. To me it showed tremendous strength to talk candidly about these fears in front of their friends and a new teacher.

It hasn’t all been sharing and feelings; there have been some…. well… bumps on the road. But we have worked through it. As a teaching artist, it is most important to keep in mind who this is all for… the students.

I am now off to make shadow puppets for 4 yr olds… (I can’t believe I get paid to do this!)

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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