LAMusArt’s 28 teaching artists and administrative staff came together for an afternoon of learning, energizing, and play with a strong focus on developing a sense of rapport and increasing student retention.
Isela Sotelo, Executive Director of LAMusArt, welcomed attendees and introduced new teachers and staff. Programs Manager Manuel Prieto followed the afternoon by leading a discussion on invigorating ways to engage LAMusArt’s “tween” students, or youths in grades five through eight. Research by The Wallace Foundation shows a steep drop-off in arts participation among teenagers, making the “tween” years imperative to a student’s continued interest in the arts. Factors such as peer pressure, technology, and common “starving artist” misconceptions can deter arts involvement among youth.
But research also suggests that youths appreciate quality, hands-on, sequential arts programs taught by inspiring real-world teaching artists. With an array of training and experience in their respective arts disciplines, this finding helped to instill a sense of mastery and pride in our teachers.
Following the discussion Debra Piver, a free-lance workshop facilitator with years of experience in educational theatre and youth engagement, led collaborative and social activities amongst LAMusArt staff, whose varied and busy weekly schedules make social interactions extending past a friendly greeting in the hallway challenging.
Although it might have seemed quite silly to a normal onlooker, Piver’s exercises reinforced the idea of using theatre for play and had the whole room erupting in boisterous chatting and laughter on the topics of inspiration, observation and collaboration. After multiple hours and days of serving in a teaching role, our staff had the opportunity to become students themselves, and engage in the introspective and outward benefits of arts education.
After the session, faculty and staff were provided to a catered dinner by Teresitas Restaurant and the opportunity to continue building community with one another.