Educators could never have predicted that 2020 would lead to completely digital learning – but with a great challenge comes great opportunity!
As our education team joins millions of teachers around the world transitioning to the digital space, we are excited to discover, utilize, and refine the tools provided by this unique teaching environment. Like many educators, we have developed our fall arts curriculum with virtual learning at the forefront, and we have chosen topics and methodologies specific to how students can best learn online. During the time of COVID, when we are all struggling to find moments of connection with one another, fulfilling students’ social and emotional learning needs have become more important than ever. Online arts education provides many opportunities to develop these skills and connections.
Some of our programs respond directly to these times, whether choreographing movement to express their thoughts on the world, stress relief and creativity in a yoga stories class, or devising a new script through Speak Out on Stage based on themes students may be dealing with in life. Others – such as Dinosaur Drama, Teen Improv Troupe, and Animated Voiceovers – provide a needed creative and fun escape from the day to day routine of the social distancing world.
In this time of digital learning, students are missing each other, but our online arts classes encourage teamwork and peer connections, whether by rehearsing for a Zoom play or exploring a new fairytale together. This is a chance for students to connect with others and express themselves, all while working towards a singular purpose or goal. Online learning allows us to connect not just locally, but internationally as well. We can connect with peers and learn from artists and students around the world, opening more opportunities than ever before. It is these cross-cultural connections that can build new bridges, foster empathy, and ultimately make for a stronger world.
But most importantly, our online classes are child-focused… and FUN-focused. Our teachers want students to have fun while they learn. The teachers are ready to bring their highest energy to the table and really get to know the students to make for a wonderful classroom community that fosters art and joy. Our online classes put the “extra” in extracurricular, bringing extra fun, extra creative, and extra imagination which we all need right now.
While the upcoming school year is going to be unprecedented, something remains as true as it ever was – kids need the arts. The arts can and should transcend the barrier of the digital space and be there for our kids in this time of need. We can’t wait to see what we create together this semester!
Joanne Seelig Lamparter
Director of Education & Theatre for Change