Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ed Theatre Mini Conference by Christine Gonzales-DeJohn

The 2012 Ed Theatre Mini Conference
By Christine Gonzales-DeJohn

The 2012 Ed Theatre Mini Conference, organized and hosted by the Ed Theatre Club Officers, was once again, a great success.  For the third year in a row, current and prospective students along with alumni of CCNY’s Educational Theatre Department gathered together for a day of professional development workshops and an opportunity to network and connect as an ensemble of theatre educators.
The day began with a “meet and greet” session allowing participants to re-connect and become acquainted with each other over coffee and pastries.  The room was a buzz with laughter and conversations of current course work, theatre projects and the challenges and successes that the participants had been encountering in their classrooms. 
The feeling of excited anticipation and camaraderie set the stage for the first workshop.  Blake McCarty the current Media Production Manager for The New 42nd St project introduced fresh and innovative ways to integrate the classroom with social media literacy and digital communication technology, even when the technology is not available in the room. Through the use of social media inspired templates such as Facebook profiles and Twitter updates, Blake facilitated fun and engaging activities that participants could use with their students to explore character development, play analysis and the beginning stages of playwriting. 
Participants were then treated to lunch and invited to complete a “Game Share” handout detailing the name and steps of one of their favorite Theatre Games.  In an effort to create a database for the students and alumni of the Ed Theatre Department, all of the games were collected and compiled into a Google Doc that the participants would be able to access, reference and continue to add on to as time goes by.  
The Mini Conference continued with two breakout sessions, giving participants the opportunity to choose a workshop they were most intrigued and curious about exploring further.   This year, Alumni of the Educational Theatre Department, Keeshon Morrow and Cliff Campbell each facilitated a session they created specifically for the conference.   
As a theatre teacher at The Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Keeshon revealed his approach to warm-ups and their priority in the classroom.  Participants in his session were introduced to a variety of different warm-ups with emphasis on strengthening the focus and energy of their students while integrating performance skills.  This lively, upbeat workshop energized and inspired its participants as they discovered and discussed how to create an effective warm-up structure and attain greater success in the classroom.
Cliff’s session was aimed at helping Theatre teachers integrate the common core standards for writing into their classrooms.  Cliff, a theatre teacher for the Uncommon Charter High School invited four of his students to present their writing and participate in the session.  The Ed Theatre Participants had the unique experience of working side by side with teens, exploring their writing and helping them to re-write and edit scenes/monologues through the process of improvisation. 
At the close of the Mini Conference, participants gathered together for a final reflection giving them an opportunity to share out their experiences and reactions to the day’s events. The participants expressed being inspired and excited by the new tools and knowledge they had gained as Theatre Educators.  They were thankful for the chance to connect outside of their Graduate coursework and spend the afternoon learning and creating with their fellow classmates. 
The Ed Theatre Mini Conference continues to be a unique and valuable extension of CCNY’s Educational Theatre Department.  Here’s to another successful year and may the tradition continue to grow for years to come.  

1 comment: