Below is my teaching philosophy. Please contact me for the PDF of my full teaching portfolio which also includes CV, syllabi, lesson plans, sample documents, forms of assessments, and evaluation.
Teaching Theatre for Life
The Teaching Philosophy of
Maya Michele Fein
As an artist and an educator, I passionately believe that one of the greatest assets a person can possess is the confidence to fully be one's unique self. It has taken years of introspection, vulnerability, adventures, and meaningful conversations in addition to moments of humiliation, devastation and absolute bliss to present my authentic self. After in-depth studies in theatre, psychology, and education, I can make a positive contribution to the lives of others by challenging them to also confidently be themselves. My classroom is enriched by the sharing of one's world view, the summation of life experiences, ethics, and diverse backgrounds that create an outlook original to the individual. I advocate a symbiotic learning relationship where I not only teach the students, but I learn from them and they learn from their peers as well.
Every student is unique and I’m accustomed to teaching a culturally, economically, and neurally diverse population. In particular, my teaching style is aimed at being inclusive of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners. Therefore, my courses utilize a variety of techniques to keep students actively engaged while assessing their comprehension. My class format ranges between discussions, interactive lectures, projects, presentations, workshops, and labs. Students work individually, in partners, and in groups throughout the term to build individual and collaborative processes. For lighting students, I challenge them to articulate evidence supporting their design ideas and go through a full design process which includes formats such as research, sketching/rendering, lighting lab practicum, drafting, paperwork, and an oral presentation.
Assignments build on in-class learning through essays, readings, observations, partner collaboration projects and group work. For instance, the objective of the day might be to identify design principles, qualities of light, and functions of lighting design. My lesson consists of a presentation of images of lighting designs and programmed lighting instruments to help students connect, dissect, and apply the terminology they’re learning. This begins with a discussion led by me as a model for expectations. Students have the time to write down their observations on a chart I’ve provided, so they can develop their own ideas. Once the guidelines have been established, an open forum begins allowing students to bounce ideas around. Second part of the unit is a hands-on experience of students experimenting with the physical applications of these lighting principals. This allows students to have written, oral, visual, and kinesthetic components. Students who may be more reserved about voicing opinions aloud have the opportunity to show their understanding in writing and visual demonstrations. Students, who may not have strong writing or drawing skills, can demonstrate comprehension with verbal and practical lighting techniques.
A significant portion of the curriculum is scaffolded in all my courses with various projects that develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of the content. While lectures based on fundamental facts of history, science, math, and theatre occur, my classes also focus on developing the self through theatre. A majority of the course structure is discovering how to physically manifest one's own interpretation of source material such as plays, poems, sculptures and paintings. Rarely will a student arrive at the same answer to a question, but by investing time in their own work and seeing others do the same, they can become more open to the depth of thought and validity of other’s perspectives as well as their own. I also ask students to make comparisons to their lives so that they can understand what motivates their own reactions and initial impressions of other people, places and events encountered in life.
I teach what I practice professionally, and I hope to inspire my students to do the same. My classes develop essential life skills for individuals such as effective communication, collaboration, public speaking, active listening, assertive writing, thorough reading, original thinking, empathy for others’ perspectives, and an expressive point of view. It is through theatre that I hope to enrich the lives of individuals, communities, and the world.