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!)