The Artist Educator in the Classroom
Finding theatre moments in our everyday teaching practice
By Alex Garcia
I became a full-time elementary school teacher at P.S 153 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 2015. I began as a 1st Grade teacher of all subjects. I am a graduate of The City College of New York (Childhood Education 2015). I am a general education teacher, but even in my first year, I always encountered moments that could naturally turn into play during everyday instruction. These presented themselves from the moment I would take attendance to dismissal time. With everything in between, I understand that student-centered planning and instruction is key to having a successful classroom, but I always believed that the teacher needs to motivate the students to perceive learning as playful. This is possible if the instructor perceives the experience as playful too.
Teaching 1st grade in my first year taught me how delicate and sensitive children can be. All my movements were closely observed, analyzed, and even imitated. I concluded that the delivery of standard instruction should occur with some of my own “swagger” or through my own “filters.” I was not always perfect, and I had to pay attention to how my administration felt their teachers should conduct themselves. However, I realized that teachers still have much self-discovery to do in their own lives, and students reflect each of those discoveries. Some students might even reflect some of your greatest qualities. After one year, I moved to 5th Grade and I have remained there ever since. My time in this grade inspired me to bring my guitar to school and play our favorite songs together.
I feel blessed every day that I work with a staff that meets the standards of a traditional public school, but have a love for the aesthetics, music, pop culture and unique methods of delivering instruction. My Principal, at the time, always told us that she is willing to listen to any ideas if the idea was mainly focused on the students. My administration has always been open to the arts and putting on performances every year for the students and the community. If we meet our goals, respect due dates, and stay mindful of traditional public-school requirements, we have always been invited to find theatre moments in our everyday teaching practice. I find it interesting that finding these theatre moments will always be unique because of the infinite possibilities of student-teacher relationships.
on the education system, many teachers and students began teaching and learning remotely. I still teach in-person every day (with some elements of online learning present in our instruction). Our interactions in the classroom must always be considered due to safety, but we still find ways to play and stay creative. This is especially necessary for the developmental years of my students in these times of delicate change.
My goal is to continue to discover myself, fine tune my artistry, and improve my music while helping my students do the same for themselves. Wherever that may lead me is a choice I leave to the best version of myself today and tomorrow, in and out of the classroom.
The video below is a Vlog I composed that further explains why I teach and how helping young minds grow and develop has helped me grow and develop.
“Why I Love Teaching”