Target Arts in the Classroom

Posted 23 February 2012 12:00 AM by Abe Lateiner

My name is Abe Lateiner, and I’m a middle school English/ESL teacher at the Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury. From the beginning of January until February vacation, I had the pleasure of hosting a Target Arts teaching artist in my ESL classroom. I had been trying to teach theater before the residency, but had been limited by my lack of experience. Carol, my resident theater teaching artist, came in and got kids up and on their feet, learning theater the best way there is: by doing it!

Through games and improvisation exercises, Carol helped my students loosen up and begin to take small risks as actors and directors. At first, they weren’t sure what to make of these weird games, but soon they realized that they were having fun while learning. Meanwhile, I was learning as much as my students were! I got to see how an effective theater teacher creates trust and teamwork among middle school students, who aren’t always the most natural at that kind of thing.

As the residency progressed, my two classes developed their own completely different performances to present at the conclusion of the 6-week residency. The 6th graders, with their endless energy and willingness to experiment, created a presentation that matched that energy. The 7th and 8th graders, meanwhile, were more self-conscious and reluctant to take risks on stage. Over the course of these six weeks, we had so many ups and downs with both groups. But through it all, Carol remained patient and steadfast in her dedication to helping students to reach their potential. While not every student involved will dedicate their life to theater, every one of them can now say that they have done theater work, and in that respect, their lives have been enriched. What a great opportunity for my students and myself!

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