Monday, March 24, 2014

A Volunteer at TIOS

A Volunteer at TIOS - Jackie Avitabile

I attended my first educational theatre conference as an intern at the TIOS Conference at Lincoln Center Education on March 3, 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect out of the conference- I was hoping to attend some interesting sessions, and I was counting on the fieldwork hours for two classes!  As it turned out, volunteering at the TIOS conference made for a busy, fun, and fulfilling day!

 My day started very early when I ran into Sobha Kavanakudiyil on the 1 train at 6:30 am.  We talked about the frigid weather that had raised concerns about whether the conference would happen, and our expectations for the day.  Luckily, chatting with Sobha gave me an excuse to put my reading aside- I love McCaslin’s book, but it was just too early for Creative Drama!

When we arrived at Lincoln Center, my first tasks as an intern were a bit unusual.  As part of setting up registration, Nathan Schwartz and I crossed between buildings and loaded up our arms with 50 coat hangers each for the coat racks in the lobby.  We looked like we were wearing creepy wooden wings and we tried to catch the eye of passersby!  Registration kept us occupied for the next hour, as a steady stream of friendly faces, some familiar, came in out of the cold.

In the morning, I was able to attend Caitlin Stanton’s presentation on her project-based learning classroom.  It was inspiring to see the amazing work that an alumna of City College is doing with her theatre students!

I helped the conference committee members set up lunch from Potbelly, and I was impressed by the level of planning that went into such seemingly minor details as the order of items on the buffet table.  All of the committee members worked incredibly hard to make the day run smoothly, and their great care and thoughtfulness was evident throughout!  They managed to make a small space effortlessly fit 100 attendees, and I will steal some of their organizational tips for the future!

In the afternoon, I attended Paul Brewster’s session about technical theatre curriculum, which was terrific and super relevant to the Fundamentals of Teaching Technical Theatre class, which I am taking this semester.  By the Keynote Plenary session, my brain was buzzing with all of the information that I had learned and interesting discussions from the day.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the day was connecting with other theatre educators and realizing what a small world we do live and work in.  It was exciting to meet alumni of our program who are further along in their careers and hear about their amazing successes with students.  And I loved engaging in discussions with my cohort at City College, who are all open-minded and eager to learn new things.  

 I found this conference to be so energizing (even after a short night’s sleep and an early morning!) and I am excited to continue connecting with other theatre educators.  Teachers in our field are some of the most innovative and reflective practitioners and I admire how so many of them strive to continually improve their practice and become better for their students.

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