The A.L.L. Summer Writers and Readers Institute in Houston, Texas was a great experience for all involved. In this post we show some of the participant exercises that were used to take participant teachers out of their comfort zones and put them in the position of learners, doing something they don’t necessarily feel comfortable doing. The idea is to gain a better understanding of what it is we are asking students to do daily.
Houston Writers and Readers Summer Institute - Participant Exercises 1
In the first clip, the participant teachers are learning about music - learning different rhythms and using their bodies as instruments to compose an original piece. The piece included a solo part played by Richard Brown, Houston Grand Opera’s principal percussionist! Led by Sahar Nouri, formerly of the Opera Studio of Houston Grand Opera, who now freelances - coaching opera singers nationwide - teachers enjoyed being challenged to explore their abilities “out of their comfort zone”!
Houston Writers and Readers Summer Institute - Participant Exercises 2
Continuing the “out of your comfort zone” learning work, Sahar Nouri taught everyone Italian pronunciation and practiced singing the aria, Nessun Dorma. At that point, James Chamberlain, tenor, sang the aria and the group joined in with the chorus – all in twenty minutes! Many commented on the challenge and one participant’s reflection stated, “We were in the presence of greatness.”
Houston Writers and Readers Summer Institute - Participant Exercises 3
Next, teachers reflect on taking on the experience of new learning in the “out of your comfort zone” activity. The “out of your comfort zone” activities make “being comfortable in the uncomfortable.” One commented, “It opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. We expect our kids to get out of their comfort zone so I thought it was a great experience.” She goes on to say, “I was able to overcome my obstacles by seeing the beauty and purpose in the things we were doing.” A most successful endeavor, as that was the general consensus of all the participants!