Workshops aid teachers in engaging students

Cassie 2Through Humanities Outreach in Tennessee (HOT), an annual season of diverse performances, TPAC has brought learning to life for students across the state for decades. But did you know TPAC offers free workshops for teachers as well?

Just like the eclectic mix on TPAC’s public calendar, the HOT season includes a blend of cutting-edge contemporary work and world classics, with unique opportunities for teachers and students.  Over the course of the school year, connections are made to every subject studied in the classroom—history, literature, science, math, geography and more.

“All of the works on our annual Season for Young People are curriculum-based. All of our materials, from the brochure to the guidebooks, provide those specific connections,” said Cassie LaFevor, who is licensed to teach theatre and was a classroom educator before she became the HOT manager.

To further emphasize these ties to curriculum standards, TPAC offers a series of after-school workshops for educators on a wide variety of topics. The interactive, two-hour sessions are free of charge and open to all teachers (whether they attend TPAC or not).

“Teachers participate in a variety of activities at our workshops, just like their students would in the classroom. We explore specific connections to curriculum standards and how to get the most out of attending a performance at TPAC. We look at ways to use the works of art for lessons in history, literature, social studies, and even math and science,” LaFevor said, noting that TPAC Education’s programs for teachers are ideal for project-based learning.

Cassie 1“The arts are a rich, educational resource — a great way to engage students and energize learning. Our goal is to give teachers lots of ideas that are easy to incorporate into their own teaching expertise and style. We do whatever we can to provide educators with the resources they need to talk about HOT to others, to request field trips, and to create lesson plans related to our performances,” she said.

“Strategies for Teaching STEM with the Arts” on March 24, for example, will explore how to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math, using two works on the upcoming HOT schedule as examples: Look Out! Science is Coming, which is equal parts comedy and scientific method, and Bleu, a play about ocean life.

In addition to learning from the activities and discussion in the fast-paced workshop, participants leave with a folder filled with suggestions for using the arts to meet state standards and classroom learning goals.

LaFevor also coordinates a two-day summer “TechShop” geared to theatre teachers who learn from the professionals who work behind the scenes at TPAC.