Four years ago I had an idea for a summer of creative experiences. I called it my Educator Recovery Program (ERP) for those who needed to recharge after a tough school year or an Arts Immersion Program (AIP) for those who just wanted to find ways to be inspired and find new ideas for arts integration in their classrooms.
This idea grew from my work with Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. In her book, Cameron talks about the need for “filling the well.” Cameron’s focus in this book is to help release your creativity. If you endeavor to do creative work, and no matter what you teach you are doing creative work, Cameron’s basic premise is that you can’t create if your well is dry of creative juices. If you love structure and exercises like I do this book leads you through 12 weeks of self-care, daily journaling Cameron calls “morning pages”, artist’s dates (serious “me” time with an artistic edge) and looking at/working through things in your life that might be blocking your creative energy. There is also a video series to lead you through the process.
But if all that sounds way too involved for you or is just not your cup of tea, then perhaps just making a commitment to yourself to give yourself creative experiences and fill your well is enough to help you feel ready to tackle another school year by the time it comes around. As the saying goes, you can’t get something from nothing. You cannot expect yourself to continue to generate creative thinking if you do not give yourself time to connect to your creative self and give yourself creative experiences. I made that commitment to myself four years ago and I was so glad that I did. For some reason I did not repeat it the following year but I think it was a good idea whose time has come around again. It’s time I recommit to filling my well.
My plan four years ago was that each week for 10 weeks I would check something off my Arts Integration checklist which looked like this:
- Take your inner artist on a weekly date.
- Do something that scares you.
- Experience art: dance.
- Experience art: music.
- Experience art: theater.
- Experience art: visual.
- Make art: dance.
- Make art: music.
- Make art: theater.
- Make art: visual.
Here are just a few ideas that will help you check off something from that list and help make your summer a little more art-ful
- Go to the beach alone and collect shells. Find a way to arrange them at home.
- Go for a walk alone and look for photo opportunities.
- Sit and listen to a favorite piece of music at least 4 times. Try to focus on a different aspect of the music each time.
- After listening to a favorite music selection multiple times, choose one aspect of the music (one instrument, the dynamics, the rhythm) and move to it. Play with how you could show that aspect of the music through movement (or just let loose and dance!)
- Take yourself to live performing arts (dance, theater, music) as often as possible.
- Look at a sunset sky and try to find every color in it you can. If you feel so moved, try to sketch it.
- Choose something in nature and try to draw it capturing as many details as you can.
- Buy yourself something that makes you happy just to look at it and put it in a place where you will see it often.
- Have a game night with friends and play charades.
- Go see some improv.
These are just a few ideas to help get you started. Other opportunities might present themselves if you are open to them and keeping your eye out for them. My hope is that the list is a jumping off point for us both to dive deep into the waters of creativity and come up simply dripping in creative energy!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.