Our teaching artists and staff gathered at the Oak Center Cultural Center on November 11th for our annual staff retreat—a fantastic day of didactic and experiential learning, team-building, and skill sharing. We spent the morning session with a training on applied mindfulness techniques led by our very own teaching artist Derique McGee. Developing awareness in both mind and body is at the core of circus learning. Mindfulness practice is a natural fit to integrate with our work and can explicitly support other skills for success. Led by Derique’s compassionate and knowledgeable presence, our staff explored techniques and vocabulary that will be used to support stronger relationships between staff and students, effective classroom management, and personal empowerment for students and staff. The training lead us to make the commitment to establish a “mindfulness toolkit” at each school site that will be composed of our coaches’ skills and actual tools to guide students to self-regulate in healthy, empowering ways.
The second half of our staff retreat covered organizational updates, year planning, and logistics along with time for staff to share any games, teaching techniques, activities, and skills they find useful in their work as well as, of course, planning for our annual Showcase! Our annual staff retreat helps us build a cohesive community of support and camaraderie among our staff from separate program sites while helping each other grow personally and professionally. Our staff is, without a doubt, dedicated, hard-working, creative, playful, and so excited for this program year!