|in North Bend, WA (Where Twin Peaks is!)|
The lodge was very beautiful, settled in the tall pine trees and looking smoky in the shadow of the mountains around it. It rained the whole time we were there, but it the moisture made everything seem cozier on the inside and lusher outside.
The objective of the arts retreat is to look at how visual arts, music, dance and drama can be incorporated into everyday classroom study. This, they tell us, is important in that it is a way to connect students' creativity into their learning processes (also it is of value since the arts have zero budgets in most schools and students don't have opportunities to learn them.)
We learned all about the cognitive development of children, young adolescents and teenagers and how movement and music is integral to helping students at these stages of life. We got to sing and play instruments and dance around, although dancing around after lunch seemed to have set off some kind of stomach bug that I had been developing all morning. Yes, I had a stomach bug AGAIN.
So, I was forced to retire halfway through dance class (and I was having so much fun, too.) I spent the rest of that evening in bed trying to feel better and falling in and out of fitful naps. My roommate, Aimee, also had a stomach bug along with another girl down the hall, Renee. It must be going around schools since I seem to have caught it twice now. In any case, the retreat sort of lost steam for me at that point and I really wanted to go home, but the show had to go on!
Drama was a lot of fun, and after resting in the afternoon I had the energy to participate during the evening activity. The teacher was extremely positive and encouraging to us and I think it will benefit how I manage my classroom in the future; the teacher told us it was important to keep kids active and to help them see mistakes in behavior or academics rather than pointing it out to them or to scold. I like that -- more smiling in class! Huzzah!
|Roger Shimomura's Depiction of Ichiro Suzuki in an Internment Camp|
The next day we had visual arts, which was less titillating than the other art classes we had participated in. The teacher was nice and gave us some tools to talk about visual arts, (we looked at some work from Roger Shimomura) but gave us no advice on how to teach visual arts as integrated through other subject matter. This is a damn shame; Roger Shimomura's artwork spans the history of Japanese internment camps AND pop culture (as seen above). There was also some tension between a few of the cohorts about eastern versus western artistic expression that was not led nor diffused by the teacher and left many of us feeling sour. The notion that our opinions may not be valid because someone of Asian descent says "you're wrong," without giving a supporting argument. Really, it was an example of how not to run a classroom, which may be as educational as learning how to run one well.
The last item on the agenda was to make and present our "culture boxes," which are essentially dioramas that discuss our family culture and sense of self. It was pretty fun, although we didn't do very much with the end result. Now I just have an amazon.com box covered in photos and stickers and nowhere to put it!
After a quick wrap-up, we left North Bend and yammered to each other all the way back to Seattle. All in all a good trip, but I'm starting to worry that doing new things seems to give me STOMACH DOOM. Since we had to present artistic projects at the end of the day, I wrote the following poem:
(something to note is that the "golden apple" award is a teaching award that was given to the movement teacher.)
Ode to Rainbow Lodge (and my Immune System)
The rainbow lodge is a magical place,
Where the arts and new teachers come face-to-face,
Yet alas, for one of these teachers was ill,
A week with the children did her immune system kill.
So what was in store for this invalid sap?
How would she manage to feather her cap?
The answer was art, drama, music and dance,
Though her body so ached and wobbled her stance.
First there was music – rhythm and song,
Who knew we had hidden our talents so long?
We warbled in languages nobody knew,
We stomped and we clapped and our confidence grew.
We then went to dance class and left the warm chapel,
To learn about movement from our Golden Apple,
We twisted and turned and jumped through our spaces,
We learned about math, and took our minds to new places.
In the evening we played with the man we called Barry,
We tried poems and costumes, though some were quite scary.
Though dressed like Steve Jobbs, he engaged us all night,
We were welcomed as teachers and cured of stage fright.
And though she did spend more time sick than time well,
And being bereft of the food was HER HELL,
She will remember this voyage with fondness, not ire,
Because it so strengthened her teaching desire.
Here is another one of my favorite Shimomura pieces for no particular reason.