San Francisco, CA: 826 Valencia, a non-profit organization founded by author Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari, provides free after-school writing tutoring to children in under-resourced communities with an aim to support them in telling their stories, developing confidence and pride, and making the world a better place.
Writing and homework tutor Felicia Spahr is using The Art of Learning principles to develop student engagement, expand student creativity, and deepen students’ understanding of the valuable role writing can play in their lives.
“These kids are really bright,” Spahr explains, “but many of them seem apathetic and jaded when it comes to doing school work and writing. I would love for them to not only feel excited and challenged by learning, but also feel a sense of ownership over the process. It would be beautiful to see a student excited by a school assignment and find their own path to integrating that love into their life in their own unique way.”
Spahr believes that using principles from TAOL will benefit the students because of the structured approach it provides, while still allowing a sense of freedom for both herself and the students. Her aim is to bring that sense of excitement and challenge to the students in her writing group. Through Listening First, Spahr will help students identify their passions and strengths and bring them in to their writing. By using improvisational acting as a planning process for writing, she will help them explore Using Adversity as an on-ramp for creative inspiration and Investment in Loss as a tool for revision, first within the improv and later within the writing. Finally, her students will explore Valuing Process Before Results throughout, as they experience the open-ended creativity of both improvisation and writing.