This is a new kind of post for this space, so you will have to bear with me...
This is a new kind of post for this space, so you will have to bear with me as a navigate how exactly I want this writing to function and the kind of goals I'm hoping it will achieve. I promise that this will not be a regular occurrence on this site. I am not interested in airing my personal life on the interwebs, but I am making a bit of an exemption in this instance, in hopes that it will better inform my practice and maybe yours. So, to give you a better understanding of the mess of words that you may or may not read below, please allow me to explain the shift of this page from a 'fieldwork blog' to a 'blog.'
As you may or may not know, I am not a teacher. Full disclosure here, folks. I do not spend my days in the classroom, writing lesson plans, or grading papers, although some days I wonder if I should be doing that instead. I have an office job in the Texas House of Representatives that consists primarily of answer phones and emails, researching past and potential legislation dealing with the gamete of Texas policy priorities, and handling casework for constituents in my boss's district, among 'other tasks as assigned.' My primary interest is education policy, although I cover all children's issues and a multitude of things outside of that. The legislator for whom I work is heavily involved (at least for the time being...and no political snobs are allowed to take this as hints from inside the dome because let's be honest here, I know nothing about politics) in healthcare policy. I know more about Medicaid, LMHA's, SSLC's, provider reimbursement rates, TBB-TX, and the meaning of countless healthcare related acronyms than I could have ever imagined.
This time last year, I was practicing finger-plays about five little monkeys and mapping out classroom organization diagrams that align with various pedagogical schools of thought. Yesterday I attended meetings on vocational rehabilitation program reform that will be necessary according to changes in federal law due to the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act of 2014.
Some of this, I will openly admit, is post-graduate angst. But it is also frustration that I have moved farther away from the artistry that I love than I would prefer. My involvement with the arts has been in a constant state of transformation over the years. After acting and (dabbling in) directing, I discovering Creative Drama, developed lesson plans, and constantly pestered my teacher friends. I became deeply entrenched in education theory through my degree studies, while constantly viewing Vygotsky and Piaget through the lens of Drama-Based Instruction. After a little more than a year of researching the lasting impact of the Drama for Schools Summer Institute (a professional development intensive course for educators), I worry that I am disconnected from the practice- the actual practice of facilitating strategies and using the perfectly crafted lesson plans with a group of real individuals for a real purpose. I miss the impact of the art, as it works on the ground in powerful ways.
The fascinating thing about movements and initiatives with powerful impact is that they are delightful to conceptualize and deceptively satisfying to idealize; oftentimes the near demise of such movements is the very same thing (institutionalized religion, academia, politics...).
I worry that teaching artistry is such a movement. The career trajectory of a student of DBI (is that an acceptable phrase to label us?) seems to be something like this: work in a children's theatre or for another arts non-profit--graduate school--support educators in using DBI in their classrooms--research it. If this trajectory is uninformed or presumptuous, I hope you will take no offense. But what I cannot seem to understand is why there are no teaching artists that actually live out their practice in a classroom full-time. Are there any DBI experts that just teach? The support roles that the best of the best teaching artists achieve are certainly important for sustaining monumental arts initiatives such as Any Given Child in AISD, but this support is a temporary model. I wish that some of these experts were in the classroom, simply modeling with their everyday teaching that this is something that is sustainable and that can be done by a typical teacher with typical responsibilities and typical classroom schedules. Of course you can plan a DBI lesson when you’ll only be in the classroom once or twice a week. But can you do DBI on a daily basis, with the same energy and attention to curricular content as is emphasized as paramount in all of these trainings?
This is the type of musing I will be exploring in this space going forward, as an effort to step a little closer to the practice, while my 9-5 is spent farther away from the practice than I would prefer. Just trying to keep my practice "in practice."