As a theatre maker, teacher and Fine Arts curriculum designer I was so impressed with the organization, energy and clarity of Maggie’s facilitation. Her ease in moving from working with a professional puppeteer to an 8 year old teaching skills, supporting imaginative play, and encouraging collaboration was just terrific. The workshop was such fun!
-Glenda Stirling, Interim Chair, Fine Arts, Faculty of Arts at Concordia University of Edmonton
Maggie Winston’s adaptation to online teaching is an example of how arts educators are pivoting to new practices that are engaging and exciting for students in the virtual classroom. Using the magic of puppetry, Maggie facilitates creative processes for students with an emphasis on inclusion and imagination. Her ArtistsInspire workshop, “Simple Puppets and Story Making” teaches students how to make simple puppets and backdrops, create a story, and perform it through improvisation and collaboration.
The glowing reviews of her online workshop, and comments from teachers, parents and students attest that Maggie’s approach is highly effective. One young Zoom participant, revealing her artwork raved, “It incorporates art, visual art and also theatre, like acting… This was my favorite ArtistsInspire workshop!”
Maggie, a puppeteer, clown, educator, and community engaged artist, has been teaching in-classroom workshops for years, and hopes to continue to do so when possible. In response to social distancing, she has learned to adjust adeptly to virtual demands. “It’s a learning curve for sure, getting comfortable with the technology, but once I figured out how to use Zoom and the camera in a way that’s beneficial and artistic, I found I had a lot of fun!”
Maggie takes advantage of the new opportunities provided by online arts facilitation, saying “I’ve been experimenting with backgrounds and with lighting and setting up my space properly, and then using this image, the frame as a tool for teaching.” She stresses, “there are ways to still engage with movement and be physical while still being engaged in the camera frame.”
Maggie’s research also augments the resources she provides for teachers, giving them digital tools “to use and go back to and say okay, ‘here’s how we’re going to lay out our workshop so that kids can read and follow along’. It does really use all the senses and different ways of learning.”
With regard to the most important thing to communicate to teachers during social distancing, Maggie emphasizes that “it’s still really important to have artists in the classroom. Artists who can facilitate in this way, quick thinking and being open to new ideas, and doing something together that is a creation among everybody. The art learning, the creative learning, is what’s important to continue to have, even if it is online.”