lotusflowerOur summer retreats are build for teachers to rekindle a love of learning, so that they can bring that into the lives of their students.  I am always amazed by the creativity of all the educators that attend the retreat and am so happy when they share their experience with me through their words.  Today, I bring you just that: beautiful words from a high school ELA teacher who has attended numerous retreats over the years.  ~EMP

My own learning process this week was like the cliché flower that opened up more and more as it grew under the sun and with the support of soil and water. I like to move around and am constantly busy in my regular life—very kinetic—so it was nice to be busy in a colorful, creative, and relaxing environment. I feel renewed. Once again, this art retreat was such a wonderful way for me to approach learning and teaching in a hands-on way. The participants in the retreat were supportive, especially Elizabeth, and I appreciated the open-mindedness and willingness of the group.

As a learner, I have always gravitated toward project-based learning. As a teacher, therefore, I like to avoid doing only lecture and traditional pen-to-paper learning. Doing any one activity—whether it is reading, writing, listening, creating, or discussing—for too long has never worked for me as a learner or teacher. I like to mix it up, and this retreat was an elegant fit for that!

I am so glad my colleague Amanda (a HS math teacher) joined us this year. She is a wonderful person and teacher. I hope Dara and I can pull in a few more high school teachers to a future retreat. Practicing what we preach is so important, and I value the time we had to explore and create in the arts during the retreat. It is critical for high-school-aged students to continue to do hands-on work to learn core content. The philosophy that you do not have to be a true musician, dancer, actor, or artist to do arts integration is so important.

We live in a multi-media world. Students are expected to live up to twenty-first-century learning expectations and need skills for an information-based world. The recent emphasis on English language learners and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning reflects our ever-changing world. In the work force, students will need to be able to do partner and small group work, be problem solvers, be audience members and listeners. We need to engage the students we have and increase interest and achievement by utilizing their natural interest in the arts.

I feel energized and prepared to try using movement, music, storytelling, origami, and recycled art this upcoming year. Thank you SO VERY MUCH!  The space, food, activities, and friends were nurturing and inspiring.

Photo source: https://www.pinterest.com/moonlite39/lotus-flower/