Upon arriving at 2016 Teaching the Hudson Valley Conference, I wasn’t sure what I would be observing and learning. THV states their goal is to “Help educators discover, appreciate, and share the region’s natural, historic, and cultural treasures with children and youth. And, foster collaboration among schools and informal learning sites like museums and parks”. I knew everything that I would hear during the three day event would help me see what resources would be available to me as a future teacher. What I was unaware of was how the presenters would make their speeches comes to life and get the audience get involved. Not only was this a positive take away for everyone in the room but, for me, I saw how these presenters could make a field trip more memorable for a group of students.
One thing I know as a future teacher, is that students cannot be loaded with information alone. Students need to be presented with information as well as pictures or hands on activities to get a full grasp on the material. This was a big discussion in the workshop “From Home to Classroom: Reinterpreting Thomas Cole National Historic Site” held by Heather Paroubek and Kathleen Brousseau on Tuesday. Later on in the day, this discussion was proven at the “Beavers and Muskets” workshop where the presenter, Elaine Hayes of Mount Gulian Historic Site had everyone get involved in a little game she does with students who visit the site. The room was split into the Dutch Traders and the Native Americans. The Dutch Traders had tools such as blankets, pots, clothes, gun powder, and rum while the Native Americans had furs. The Native Americans would have to go from group to group to find the materials they needed from the Dutch in return for their furs. After the activity was finished, we came back together to discuss how successful both groups were. The Dutch thought of how they would use their earnings while the Native Americans thought about how fair the sales were. This stuck out in my mind and makes me really want to visit the Mount Gulian site because the site keeps records of stories that happened in the area where I grew up. Tuesday was definitely successful because I learned so much about this area that I hardly knew existed.
Coming back on Thursday, I was hopeful of the presentations for that day. I enjoyed how the morning was started off in the workshop “Follow the North Star: Music & History Coming Together” held by T.K. Blue who played some jazz music inspired by the movie “Twelve Years a Slave”. As a fellow musician, I find that it is very important to either incorporate music in the classroom by making a song with the information being taught or just by having a child learn an instrument. Learning how to play an instrument teaches a child discipline because it requires them to take time out of their day to practice. It also teaches them how to convey emotions that may not be easily said. Studies have shown that playing music uses a different side of the brain than what a student uses in a classroom. By incorporating music into a student’s regular school day, you are giving them a break all while they are still learning.
The other workshop I attended was “Striving for Freedom: An introduction to the history of NYS slavery & abolition” held by Suzanne Clary of the Jay Heritage Center and a performance featuring Joy Kelly and Christa Victoria who played two African American sisters who were separated when they were sold into slavery. This workshop was not only entertaining to watch but, engaging as well because the two actresses got the audience involved by acting in the skit. The audience created lines for those who were acting the story out based on a set of emotions given to us. This is a great way to keep students interested because they are contributing to the performance. This keeps them entertained and by seeing the story get played out in front of them, they will be more likely to remember the characters’ emotions when asked in future classes.
The last workshop I attended was a panel on “Communities as Classrooms” where elected officials of New York discussed what they could do to make either the area in which they represent better and that includes the classrooms. The panelists included: Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Torrance Harvey, Roy McDonald, Steve Noble, and Chris Pryslopski. Some people that stood out to me were Torrence and Roy. Torrence was immediately able to connect with the audience by discussing how his hardships pushed him to get where he is today. Roy made some good points about the issues that arise when teachers try to take their students on trips such as busing. While the panel was very informative and gave good insight into each panelists’ area, there was not enough time for each person to answer all of the questions to the best of their abilities
As a future teacher, I found these workshops useful because it showed me all of the resources that I have available practically in my own backyard. By attending these workshops, I have seen what I could do with potential students. This event was very informative and it makes me want to go back to all the places that were mentioned.
-Sarah Galante, Marist ’19