There are times
when a teaching artist walks into a school introduces themselves to the secretary at the front desk and receives a blank stare similar to that of a caged bird. They are looking at you but you know they have no idea why you are there. This was not the case during the two days I just spent in Mason Ohio - just north of Cincinnati in the shadows of the roller coasters of Kings Dominion Amusement Park.
Sara (my partner in rhyme) and I were greeted out front by Laura Palmer – not the Twin Peaks character but a 7th grade language arts teacher - and her compatriot Joe Carraher who whisked us into the school, handed us updated agendas, a choice of lunch menus, provided a basket of bottled water and snacks made sure all the tech stuff was clicking and whirring at an acceptable rate and pretty much treated us like we were way more important than we think we are. We did three large assemblies of around six hundred kids each, got a few of them onstage with us and had a generally swell time. After lunch we split up and led a couple writing workshops apiece. I got in a little trouble when my group made a teensy weensy tiny bit too much noise (admittedly at my direction) in the media center - but I think the writing that they produced was well worth the minor insubordination . Joe stepped in and offered his classroom for our subsequent sessions and a grand time was had by all.
Day two we started out by leading a three-hour teacher workshop and again followed up in the afternoon with a couple student workshop sessions. After the teacher’s PD session we were thrilled when the secondary language arts curriculum coordinator, Jenny May, complimented us on how well we kept up with the latest pedagogy in the field. We were just as delighted by the staff’s enthusiasm for teaching and their participation during the session. I was pleasantly impressed with the genuine interest and appreciation showed when I recommended the vocabulary acquisition book Word Play by our friend Sandra Whitaker to one of the teachers with whom we were having lunch. Thanks for the great pizza by the way and thanks to the staff and parent volunteers who helped to make our visit to Mason Middle School one that we will remember fondly.
extra credit points if you get this reference...