About BAYFEST In-School and Teacher Education Programs
One of BAYFEST’s main areas of interest is arts education and how it fits into the overall picture of childhood and youth development. Since the beginning of our programs BAYFEST staff have gone into classrooms to use creative dramatics in conjunction with classroom activities to help teachers address a variety of learning and classroom management goals.
For many years, support for arts programs has been under severe pressure from school budget cuts. By now, many schools and districts around the country have cut back or totally abandoned arts programs in an attempt to shore up a financially hemorrhaging educational system and concentrate on teaching “to the test”. Where they exist at all, terms like “Curriculum Enhancement”, “Elective Classes”, and “Arts Enrichment” are increasingly used, suggesting that the arts are peripheral to the main tasks of education, and that in theory and practice, they are expendable when financial resources are limited.
Clear experience, supported by many studies with young people of all ages, shows that arts training in general and ‘creative dramatics’ specifically can have a profound impact on students, fostering skills that carry over into many other areas of academic learning. Besides providing a much-needed creative outlet, creative dramatics techniques can specifically address a broad range of skills and assets including cognitive abilities, language skills, physical awareness, concentration, imagination/creativity, and self-confidence. Changes brought about by student participation in these kinds of activities have been noticed by families and teachers, who have reported clear jumps in reading comprehension, verbal skills and willingness to learn. In this way, the training ties in with and directly supports the whole educational and developmental process.
Physical and verbal games and exercises serve to stimulate students in ways that are new and challenging to them, yet at the same time are so much fun that they join immediately and wholeheartedly in the spirit of “play”, without trying to “get it right” or thinking of it as work. The quick and willing response elicited by this kind of “creative play” is a profoundly important goal in any learning environment.
BAYFEST not only provides programs for students, coordinating them with other school-day and after-school activities and goals, but we also offer teacher-training sessions to pass on creative techniques and specific exercises. These can be easily applied in the classroom to address issues of concern such as:
- enlivening and extending classroom learning activities.
- dealing with transitions between activities without losing students’ interest and attention.
- teaching anger/stress management.
- giving certain students an outlet for creative energies that will engage and involve them with the rest of the group and the curriculum.
- getting the whole class involved in dramatic exercises linked to specific points within the curriculum, especially during language and social studies units, that provide expanded ways of understanding the material, and prepare them to ask better questions.
The goal of all our programs is to expand student’s experience and open them to new ways of learning and perceiving. Engaging their creative spirit will help enliven their total educational experience and help them open the door to a future where anything is possible.