• Present an interactive workshop with like-minded educators.
• Improve skills in presenting at conferences.
• Participate in presentations, workshops and hear keynote speakers that will introduce me to and inspire new ideas and innovative strategies from an international gathering of experiential educators.
• Learn from those educators that participate in my workshop and who will experience and examine my teaching methods in which the expressive arts are used as a teaching tool across the curriculum and for healing trauma.
• Improve and elevate my teaching practice.
• Return from this conference having collaborated with colleagues on interrogating this pedagogical approach to teaching, learning and healing and pass on what I have learned to my students and to colleagues.
a. My takeaways from this conference were as follows:
1) When submitting a proposal for a conference, I should keep in mind the target participants. I say this because although my workshop received very positive feedback there were only seven people that attended from a conference of 700+ people. When I looked at other workshop titles, they were more engaging and even playful despite substantive themes. This seemed to draw people to them that also, may have been more likely to come to my presentation if I had been more thoughtful when naming it. I am going to be reminded of this as I decide upon the title of my new course at the RC, which currently has a rather dry and long working title.
2) I learned that I should include in my course curriculum more detailed information for students about the importance of Social Emotional Learning in the field of youth engagement and cultivate more experiential opportunities in the RC classroom that reflect how the brain responds to the stimulus that Big Body Games provide. This is especially true for a developing brain that has experienced trauma, which is the bedrock of the community-based engagement that the undergraduates observe, participate and eventually facilitate in at their internships.
3) Current and important research was shared at the conference from the Collaborative for Academic, Social & Emotional Learning (CASEL) that provides the hard data supporting the SEL practices employed by Telling It. I plan to incorporate CASEL’s research in the RC classroom and when training my students as they prepare to intern at Telling It. This data will be helpful when crafting proposals to fund Telling It and undergraduate learning.
4) From leading an interactive workshop, and based on feedback, I learned that I have a teaching style that is unusual compared to other presenters. In large part this seems to be due to the way I integrate the expressive arts with therapeutic and academic themes. Participants disclosed that they were surprised at how engaged they were in content and activities that they would normally not been drawn to, and, as they put it, the “flow” of style of the interactive presentation was new to their experience, even as experiential educators.
5) I have made some connections with experiential educators from around the world and hope to maintain a connection with them and their work in the future.
b. My current course averages 12-15 undergraduate students each semester and I teach fall and winter terms. In the fall of 2019 I will be piloting an additional course so that should double the number of students that have the potential to be impacted.
c. Two courses, one current and then the one scheduled to be piloted in fall of 2019,
The CRLT grant gave me the opportunity to attend and present at The International Conference for the Association of Experiential Educators + Gap Year Association. Although this was a finite experience and learning opportunity, my hope is to present again at other conferences in the future and meanwhile, to apply new skills and knowledge to my teaching practice and to share that knowledge with fellow experiential educators.
My intention is to share my new knowledge with colleagues through the proposed second course, mentioned above, that will include teaching collaboratively with other Engaged Learning faculty.
Advice to your Colleagues:
As an inexperienced presenter, the conference organizers offered to pair me with a mentor. My mentor had presented many times using interactive methods. She participated in my presentation, which was an interactive workshop with discussion, and gave me very helpful feedback afterwards. In the weeks leading up to the conference as I was planning, she also gave me tips on presenting. I highly recommend requesting a mentor if presenting is new to you. One challenge I faced was that I had a relatively small group of participants. I believe that this was due in large part to the title of my presentation. I had provided a rather dry title at a conference where presenters used compelling and even whimsical titles to describe their presentations. I’ll be renaming my presentation in the future and have learned to be more thoughtful about the people that are attending the conference and the focus of the conference. In this case, interactive and playful.