Arts Based Professional Learning at NJPSA/FEA

This year, the Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA) at NJ Principals and Supervisors Association and the NJ Arts Education Partnership hosted a series of workshops entitled – Bring Learning to Life Through the Arts. According to Mary Reece, Director of Special Projects, “educators were intrigued by the concept.”
These workshops served as a follow up to sessions presented at FEA’s summer conference held at Princeton University. Reece said that teachers at the summer institute asked for several of the presenters to be invited back along with some new additions.
Two recent workshops presented by the Folger Shakespeare Library and George Street Playhouse received rave reviews.
The session by the Folger Shakespeare Library focused on engaging students
at all levels in the works of Shakespeare. As a result teachers and students could connect with Shakespeare’s language. Working creatively and collaboratively, participants developed strategies for designing and assessing learning that meets the Common Core, but also gets student on their feet and into complex texts — Shakespeare and others. Peggy O’Brien of the Folger Library was able to make the subject matter accessible and entice educators to engage students with the work.
Two participants offered comments – “By far the best workshop I have been to! Often we go to great workshops and want to use much of the information immediately, but it is overwhelming and not feasible. I can confidently say I could revamp my entire curriculum around what I gained from Peggy O’Brien.”
“The workshop was very interactive and offered a lot of bodily-kinesthetic activities… It was fun and the information offered was invaluable! Please offer more of these “special interest” types where the strategies shared can be immediately implemented into our classrooms the next day! These types of workshops are practical and incredibly beneficial to helping us grow professionally (which only further helps our students! :)”
In addition, this session was timely as it came at the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
In May, FEA brought in Jim Jack, Director of Education and Outreach at George Street Playhouse to present a session entitled, Theatre Arts Integration in the Language Arts Classroom.
Jack along with other staff members explored active strategies to strengthen Language Arts Literacy and cultivate a dynamic, collaborative learning environment in the classroom. Participants used simple theater arts approaches to expand students’ expressive language development, sequencing skills, and content knowledge aligned to the Common Core.
According to Mary Reece, “Jim Jack was able to impart the understanding that theatre skills can apply to a variety of elementary and middle school settings.” She continued, “he opened the door for a lot of enthusiasm to bring theatre into the lower grades.”
Participants shared their feedback, “I liked the hands on activities and how the presenters modeled everything for the group. They made everyone feel comfortable and everyone was willing to think outside the box. I am excited about bringing these activities to my teachers and students.” And “I just appreciate what an awesome day I had at this workshop. One of the best ones that I’ve been to.”
The result, presenters brought the subject matter to life and teachers left the session excited and ready to get started in their own classrooms.
Stay tuned as there will be more sessions coming in the next school year. And if you have suggestions for sessions you would like to see, please send them to us.

Filed Under: Featured, NJAEP News