My TAP Summer Teaching Experience at Popham Elementary
“Theatre Action Project!”, “Mr. Boone!”, “Ms. Stephanie!” — those were our refreshing daily greetings from the sleepy students at Popham Elementary’s Panda Explorers summer camp. There was just so much enthusiasm and excitement from these students each day. It was almost as if we had some secret candy store in our classrooms, that none of the others knew about, because these kids would either cheer or jump up when it was their turn to go to a TAP class. With all of that amazing energy from the kids I knew I would have to give double that energy back to keep them inspired. It was PLEASANTLY exhausting.
Each class was so different, but all working on projects that coincided with our camp theme ” The planet, all people, all animals, our responsibility.” Kindergarten loved to play with story journeys (where we would improv and pretend we were going to a castle, or we each had different super powers), 1st grade loved to illustrate and paint stories they created, 2nd grade was very into movement and pantomime exercises, and 4th grade was so eager to create ready to perform scenes with plenty of dialogue. The learning stages of child development were exemplified so clearly each day!
As the program continued I learned more about these students, many of whom did not have very positive family situations, and consequently more about why giving them an arts outlet is so important for them. There would be times when a student would open up and tell me about issues that a kid should not have to deal with and then an instant later they would jump up and tell me they had a new idea for their class story or movement journey. They were so resilient and ready to just be in the moment. During the last week I asked them why they were so excited about their TAP classes and each class answered with very similar responses, “because we get to play and have fun” or, “because I get to be crazy characters and go places I can’t go to in real life”.
I know the summer camp experience was enjoyable for these kids at Popham, hopefully one that some of them will remember for a long time. I know it will certainly be one that I will never forget.
TAP Teaching Artist