From the Founder: Students Impact the Work

From the Founder 1st postWe are pleased to announce, we have a new addition to our website. From time to time, our President Diana will be sharing her words of wisdom and insight on various topics. Our mission always relates to our students so of course our first post is focused on how our students impact our work.

Haven’t we all heard classroom students utter words like, “This is boring, or this is stupid!” We sometimes hear students say negative statements to us directly or indirectly through their behavior. Never a good feeling to be on the receiving end, but, it simply means they may not be connecting with us or the classroom material. Engagement and relationship building are key to creating a willingness to learn. The ENACT teaching artists are naturally engaging because they are actors, but they must work developmentally; meeting the kids where they are moment to moment, willing to rip up and change the lesson plan as needed.  The good news is that listening to our students is what keeps us on our toes and at the top of our game.” Diana Feldman on how the students we work with impact and enhance the ENACT method.

This week Founder, Diana Feldman, reflected further on the unique, yet significant impact students have had in shaping the ENACT method. By transforming the classroom into a safe container, the ENACT method allows students to explore every day issues like bullying, peer pressure and violence through interactive theater and drama therapy. Through her experience teaching in inner city schools, Diana quickly learned that the kids are the best critics since they can immediately sense one’s motives and whether emotions are genuine. Thus, she placed students at the center of the methodology, empowering them to influence the direction, pace and tone of each workshop. Based on the students’ reactions, teaching artists know if their topic selections and drama games resonate with the students, the key she says to the work. The students’ response not only helps enhance the method, but also shapes it to meet their needs. In order to authentically connect with the students and bring about personal and collective change, it is critical that the method maintain, in essence, this sense of humility and adaptability. Here, the ENACT method offers each school and student the opportunity to identify the issues important to them and what they need rather than the reverse. Therefore communicating that they are respected as contributors, valued for the unique obstacles they face and are partners in the work. In this way, ENACT instructs each teaching artist to listen and maintain flexibility, so that they can meet students where they are and help them overcome the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives.