Zooming in to Zoom Out

As the world continues to navigate unprecedented new ‘normals,’ The Myrna Loy education team is finding ways to respond to the needs we see in our community and to take advantage of this time to reflect on our own teaching practices.

We’ve heard from teachers that students need the arts more than ever right now, and have received requests for lessons centering on nature, poetry, and self reflection, as well as a request for a sci-fi creative writing unit! There is a desire to help students to zoom out–pull away from their screens and engage with the big picture more viscerally, to address the global and national crises through creative discovery, self reflection, and hopefully a bit of humor and fun. Our teaching artist team has been meeting to share ideas and ‘zoom tips’ or teaching strategies so that we can effectively deliver arts experiences virtually.

Over the coming weeks, our team will also engage in professional development around Anti-Racist teaching practices. In our deeply divided nation, we know the arts are key for all of us to exercise empathy, practice listening, and to connect with one another in productive and healing ways.

Although it feels we are facing an avalanche of change, it is important to remember that education is always evolving. We will work to ensure that the coming evolution for Helena’s students involves creativity, joy and art.

Last spring, we heard from a teacher whose students participated in one of our virtual residencies who had this to say about the impact of the arts during the pandemic:

“I really wanted my students to have a creative outlet of expression during this strange time. Many students were struggling greatly with feelings of despair, helplessness, and disconnection. Having Virginia Reeves create these amazing lessons about self-reflection and discovery really gave students a way to talk about their feelings in a therapeutic and constructive way. It was so incredibly meaningful and helpful for me and my students. This pandemic has been extremely difficult for students across the nation. And what is helping them get them through this crisis? The arts.”

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