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Mentoring in Teaching: How we share what we know

When I was 21, fresh out of NOT graduating from college and preparing to start a family, I was approached by a performing arts specialist in my area who happened to attend church with me and had seen my work teaching music to children. She invited me to observe her run a rehearsal for a production entitled “This Land Is Your Land”. She and her business partner had created a song and dance show that they toured around to all the PTO groups in the area. They would go into an elementary school for one week, using every single child in the school, and teach them this production which involved choral singing, large group choreography for even the littlest performers, and ways for every single child to participate to their abilities. I watched as she took charge of large grade level groups and effortlessly guided them through a few hours worth of instruction, repeating this with every grade level until the whole school was able to put on the production.

At the end of the week this wonderful human being invited me to partner with her for her next production. I eagerly signed on, assuming that my music and theatre background would make this task easy and fun - but I found myself completely overwhelmed and intimidated by such large groups of kids. I felt I didn’t have near the energy level and commanding presence that Miss Becky had. After our first rehearsal she said something to me I'll never forget- "Tamie, I chose you for this because I believe you can do this. You’ve seen it done and you've watched what I do- now you need to get IN there and just DO IT. Don’t worry about being perfect - we learn as we do. Just draw on your natural skills and what you’ve learned from me and you will get better and better- and pretty soon, this will be second nature." She was exactly right. Teaching is a skill that needs to be shared. I’ve since used this model for many many years as I've hired teachers, musicians, dancers, actors,and administrators for my various programs. I seek out individuals with the skills needed to perform a task. Many of them have those skills (years of private lessons, degrees, credentials, etc), but lack the experience to put these skills into practice. I invite them to observe, to take notes, to ask questions. They shadow others who do what they are hoping to do. When they are ready, I invite them to teach a lesson of their own under supervision to be evaluated and to receive suggestions. And then I send them out on their own to teach, to supervise, to mentor, to inspire. When we teach collaboratively, sharing our skills instead of hoarding them, we ensure that what we bring to the table won't die with us, but will spread into our communities for years to come. There is no greater joy than watching young students you've trained and mentored go on to train and mentor the next generation. Our non-profit theatre company The Stage (hyperlink) recently put on its summer mini musical Dorothy in the Land of Oz and was directed by one such student - turned professional. She began in a group voice class, which extended to performing in shows all over Placer County, then branched out to Externing under professionals as a director/musical director, and culminated in her first paid position as director. She recently was able to take her little actors to a special performance at the Lincoln Women's Club (hyperlink) where they performed for a luncheon. Words cannot express the joy it brings me to see young people learn, grow, and inspire others. If YOU have a special skill - music, tutoring, acting, crafting, dancing - but feel you lack that extra gift of teaching, I invite you to reach out to Tamraloo Studios anytime to see if there are ways YOU might enhance those skills. We love to hire young people, adults who have been out of the workforce, seniors with a little extra time on their hands, as well as highly trained specialists with Bachelors, Masters and doctorate degrees in their field. There is a teacher for every student, and a student for every teacher. We’d love for you to join our Tamraloo Crew.

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