When I first started teaching, I started with my first love – music. Thinking that all students could listen in the classroom with little preparation, I decided to bring in some great music and listen to it with my students. We started with Mozart and other great composers, then we listened to American genres of music: blues, jazz, big band, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, even rap. Our times listening together created for some wonderful discussions, community building and every so often some in-depth integrated opportunities.
And the great things we did in class turned into the content of my book, Inspired by Listening. I still use these strategies in my classroom today and they are just as effective now as they were thirteen years ago.
I know a teacher who is very passionate about yoga. She brings to her teaching the art of breathing, integrating those strategies into transitioning, stress reduction and vocal projection and control.
Another teacher loves film making and uses his own passion and talent to create and produce stories on film to motivate his students to express their ideas and deepen their understanding of the curriculum.
A teacher-dancer uses movement to help students internalize everything from the definitions of adjectives to science processes such as the water cycle and photosynthesis.
When teachers give themselves permission to follow their hearts in their classrooms and share themselves with their students, a powerful connection is made between teacher and student. A different type of community is built and your room becomes a place that is safe for learning.
So think about what it is that interests you in the arts. Is it storytelling, visual art, music or drama? Poetry, dance, design or movement? There are so many forms of art from the traditional to the media-rich. Finding the one that speaks to you is a great place to start.
After all, it is through us that students can be inspired, so we need to be inspired ourselves!