Building a Space to Grow and Connect

Happy New Year! For me, 2020 will be a year of building – including building more writerly resources to share with all of you. Before I get to it, I don’t want to let the year slide by without shouting out an incredibly important part of my artist and educator life – connecting the crucial conversations about trauma and healing-centered practice to how we approach art-making and relationship building as teaching artists and educators. Through my studies at the Lakeside Global Institute, attending conferences like Trauma + the Arts at UPenn and the 3rd Annual Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference at Jefferson University, and reading fantastic books like Zaretta Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, I continue to discover more ways that brain science and behavioral health can inform our practice.

Now, whenever I facilitate a workshop, I think about the nature of trust and how it’s formed. I consider how our belief systems shape not only trust, but the choices we do or don’t make, and why. I think a lot about relationships, not just teacher-student relationships, but also peer to peer relationships and an individual’s relationship to the communities and systems around them. I also think a lot about how the brain processes and makes connections, and how art can be a powerful conduit to connect the learning of one moment to our larger lives for greater impact. 

This path has allowed me to participate in so many rich conversations where I’ve learned just as much as I’ve shared. A highlight of 2019 was being interviewed by another incredible artist-educator, Courtney J. Boddie, for her podcast Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie. I’m thrilled to share the links to listen to Act I and Act II of that interview. Not only was Courtney delightful to talk to, but she helped me forge some new connections about my work while we talked – it’s a conversation I’ll never forget!

“This feels like one of the highlights of my professional life, and maybe my personal life, too…in my life as a young person I was using art for a lot of personal processing. To dig into this training which I think holds such beautiful space for young people and provides us with tools to really help them grow and then be able to self-reflect on their growth, and forge better connections with their peers, it fills me with a lot of joy.”

– Mindy A. Early, from the Teaching Artist Podcast with Courtney J. Boddie

Locally, this spring I’ll be teaching my fifth cohort of teaching artists for the Bartol Foundation’s 20-hour Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists. In addition to working with three amazing cohorts of artists in 2019, I also facilitated guest trainings for Dancing Classrooms Philly, Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth, Musicopia, the Kimmel Center, and Wilma Theater. No matter where I was, the most exciting part of my visit was the opportunity to be a part of the brainstorming conversations that began the work of connecting the theories to the organization’s practice. Every artist is unique in how they approach their art form and their style as a facilitator, which makes the possible applications of trauma informed practice to our work nearly endless. If we’re able to foster a community of sharing our discoveries and methods with one another, together we can achieve a formidable impact on our communities.


Bartol Cohort #4
Me with the 4th Cohort of Bartol’s Trauma Informed Practice for Teaching Artists.

If you would like to learn more about the various trainings I facilitate, please visit the Professional Development page on my site. Or, if you contact me, we can chat directly about how I tailor my workshops for different age groups and organizations.

Here’s to another year of leveraging the arts to create, connect, process, and reflect! I wish each and every one of you a fantastic 2020.

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