Professional Book Club (and an introduction to status)

Want to do something revolutionary?  Try taking charge of your own professional development.
Get a group of teachers (and others who are interested) together, choose a focus and a book or two, set a date and BEGIN.  There is no way it will work out perfectly; the time won't work for everyone and the reading won't happen for all the folks who do show up.  So what.  Spend some time with your colleagues (preferably off-site), talk about ideas and strategies, and make some connections with those you see in the staff room every day.

What did we do?  We chose two books, related to the arts in education: Literacies, the Arts & Multimodality, a collection of papers, essays and articles edited by Peggy Albers and Jennifer Sanders; and Impro, the seminal work on improvisational theatre by Keith Johnstone.  We meet monthly, and we look for connections between the two books, and of course between their theories and our practice. Over the next two months, I'll be reflecting on both of these books.  However, I'd like to give the first word to someone who teaches with me at Mary Collins School in Petaluma--Gena Richman.

In our last discussion, we spent quite a while pondering status.  This is one of the most compelling areas of improv (and life!) for me, and I find it is an excellent way to analyze characters/social relationships and motivate social change.  I was wondering about the moral responsibilities of a teacher who may or may not choose to discuss status with students of various ages.  I asked, "At what age can we begin to discuss such a loaded topic?"  Here are her reflections and notes about her experiments in class after our last book club conversation:

"...I have to say though, my mind is still on the book chat (Impro, by Keith Johnstone) on status. In my class of 7-9 year olds, I used a Viola Spolin game, "Echo" to try out the notion of "a little above, a little below". The game is played with two rows. First person in row 1 says a word or phrase that row 2 repeats in descending volume (like an echo, child by child and then switch roles. They adapted to it quite well. I feel confident they (intuitively?) know gradations of sound. Now...how might I transfer that concept to action/conversation/verbal/non-verbal in terms of status?" 

When can one begin to tackle "status"?  Is it always beneficial, or can it be damaging?  When must we address "status"? 

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