Rx: Creative boost for teachers

Face it.  It’s a tough life out there if you are a teacher these days. From ever-changing procedures and requirements to preparing students for state testing, it’s no wonder then that teachers seek out an energizing boost in order to get them through the year.

PEM’s recent Fall Educator Open House event did just that and more….

The prescription:

  • Connect socially with your peers

Photo by Allison White

  • Get totally absorbed in a new creative endeavor

Photo by Allison White

  • Experiment and discover new ways of thinking

Photo by Allison White


Photo by Allison White

  • Collaborate with others in the spirit of collegiality

Photo by Allison White


Photo by Allison White


  • Share your experience

Photo by Allison White

While educators were doing all of the above, they were also involved in informal learning while having fun.

In the studios, participants were guided through the process of creating a mini model sculpture with artist Kirsten Reynolds while being challenged to think about the concept of scale and explore their creations onto a mock miniature landscape.

They also had the opportunity during the evening, to savor refreshments as well as participate in a guided experience in the exhibition Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic  that enabled educators  to slow-down, discover the artistic and engineering ingenuity of Calder’s work and share their insights with peers.

PEM’s evening event appeared to have stimulated the mind, engaged the creative spirit and left us all, including staff, energized.

Being involved with colleagues to provide professional development opportunities for educators throughout the year is very rewarding. Though my main work-related efforts are primarily focused on providing educational and creative opportunities for students when they visit the museum, I am always elated to see that educators, too, are able to feel rejuvenated from an enriched museum experience.

Kathy teachers

Photo by Kathy Tarantola

The most comprehensive session for educators is the annual PEM Teacher Institute in the summer which has been growing in popularity. This past summer, the institute focused on creativity, innovation and arts integration. Highlights of the week included artist/educator led workshops that engaged participants to collaboratively conceptualize, problem solve and create.

Martine teachers

Photo by Martine Malengret-Bardosh

Kathy board

Photo by Kathy Tarantola

Teaching artist Wilhelmina Peragine, founder and director of the Parkolation Project (an educational program of VSA Massachusetts COOL Schools) guided  PEM summer institute participants through a similar design process of ideating, iterating and prototyping a parklet model that she uses with her students prior to the actual building of an innovative public space known as a parklet. The environmental projects that students participate in provides them with the opportunity to become involved in real world civic community engagement through STEAM based learning.

walter teachers

Photo by Walter Silver

Workshop led by guest educator and environmental artist Kyle Browne, whose work is currently on display at PEM as part of the exhibition, Branching Out; Trees as Art shared her artistic vision and led institute participants in creatively exploring an outside environment individually, then collaboratively re-create a visual account of their collective sensorial experiences.

Did I mention that these were all fun, stimulating and educator rejuvenation-induced sessions?

Here’s a quote from one of this past summer’s participating educators:

“I do think my participation in their [PEM] institute will have an effect on my practice of teaching. I think  these experiences serve to refocus my commitment to help student unpack their own learning, giving them greater confidence in their own perceptive abilities and challenging them to become more engaged. I know I have sometimes fallen into the easier route of feeding them too much information when I could have helped them ‘peel the onion’ in a more authentic way, giving them the opportunity to invest themselves more fully in the whole creative process of learning.”

For further information about Professional Development opportunities for teachers throughout the year, check out the PEM website. Interested in receiving teacher e-news? Email teacherprograms@pem.org.


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