Blogs & Online Sources

Recent Blogs & Online Sources by Elizabeth Andrews

Elizabeth Andrews: “Why Are You Always So Happy?”

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It is 8:00 in the morning. I left my house at 6:30 to drive over an hour in order to be ready when my less-than-exuberant high school students enter the dance studio. They are here for Dance...

It is 8:00 in the morning. I left my house at 6:30 to drive over an hour in order to be ready when my less-than-exuberant high school students enter the dance studio. They are here for Dance Explorations – a multi-style, beginning level dance course designed for any 9 – 12 grader in the county.

I start the warm-up trying to motivate them with expressive music, witty comments & critique and overall excessive cheeriness. At a break in the movement, one girl raises her hand and asks a very grouchy, angry question that I am sure others in the class were also thinking: “Why are you always so happy?”

She caught me off guard. Did I overdo it with the morning coffee? Was I happy because I really love to dance and therefore it just comes out in my teaching? Nope. It took me a few seconds to form the answer: “Because it’s my job,” I said.

I do believe this. As a teacher, part of my job is to convey an attitude of positivity – of hope for not only the work we do in the arts but for my students as human beings. Part of my responsibility is to cultivate kindness, empathy and understanding for others – I do this through dance. Others do it through music, visual art, or drama.

Here is my wish for all teachers (and especially those of you in the arts): May you have the courage to do what you know is right, the energy to inspire your students with the passion you have for learning and creating, and the patience to do all that is asked of you!

On behalf of the MAEIA community, thank you for all that you do.

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Liz Andrews: “Jump in- take a chance- try something new.”

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The MAEIA Leadership Fellows work individually and collaboratively to create and present professional learning on the use of MAEIA resources in face-to-face and webinar formats. For some presenters, virtual sessions are new formats which lead...

The MAEIA Leadership Fellows work individually and collaboratively to create and present professional learning on the use of MAEIA resources in face-to-face and webinar formats. For some presenters, virtual sessions are new formats which lead to new understandings of how to create dynamic engagement.

We have invited the Leadership Fellows to write about their experiences as they engage the creative process in developing this work. Liz Andrews and Cynthia Clingman recently collaborated to present a virtual session. Here, Liz shares her thoughts on the process and the product of making her first MAEIA Leadership Fellows virtual presentation.

“Jump in – take a chance – try something new.”

These are encouraging words we give to our students and last month we got a chance to model this behavior. In creating and presenting our first webinar, my colleague Cindy Clingman and I did just that: jumped in, took a chance and tried something quite new. The result? Great experience for us and groundwork laid for future presentations.

Thanks to Cindy’s outstanding preparations, the technical aspects of the presentation including set-up and delivery were spot-on and easy for us to facilitate.

What I learned from the general lack of participant interaction is that we as presenters can improve our methods of instruction to adjust to the technical, online format. Basically, webinar participants can hit the mute button, walk away from the screen and tune out all together without the presenters ever knowing they left the room. Is this a high-quality arts professional development presentation? Without any engagement is any learning happening?

We need to adjust our planning leading to a webinar that brings the MAEIA project to life.

The challenge is how to make webinars: Engaging, RelevantInteractive in ways that lead the participant to pursue the MAEIA resources further and want more .

After doing a bit of google research, here are some tips I’ve gleaned to pursue a more collaborative, inspiring webinar:

1. Make it personal.

Make some time at the very beginning of the webinar to find out some interesting facts about each attendee.
Begin with some type of question that requires an investigative answer. This can be anything from how much they currently know and/or use the MAEIA resources to other types of arts assessments they are familiar with.

2. Involve them with the content.

This can be like a guessing game – instead of presenting information on a slide and then moving on, show a photograph of a student in action and ask them to guess or make a prediction about the outcome relevant to the content.

3. Check in.

At several points within the webinar, stop and ask for specific feedback to check for comprehension. Present a thoughtful question that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

I am looking forward to putting these ideas into action, making my next MAEIA webinar an engaging, inspiring presentation that arts educators will want to share!

Do you remember what it is like to try new things? Tell us about it!

Interested in becoming a MAEIA Leadership Fellow? We’ll soon be inviting applications to the program. Think it over! We are particularly interested in Administrators, Teaching Artists, Community Artists, and K-12 Educators.  

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