Keeping Workshop Notes

I’ve recently been invited to present at education conferences and poetry festivals. This Include's SXSWedu, Split this Rock, and Berklee's ABLE Assembly.

 Screenshot of flyer for Berklee College’s ABLE Assembly. Woman in yellow jacket and black dress speaks to an auditorium full of people sitting and listening attentively, some taking notes others just watching.

Screenshot of flyer for Berklee College’s ABLE Assembly. Woman in yellow jacket and black dress speaks to an auditorium full of people sitting and listening attentively, some taking notes others just watching.

It’s amazing and I’m incredibly excited, but preparing for these session makes me wonder: how do I stay present in the work?

With these presentations looming over me, it’s easy to over analyze sessions. A common inner monologue I have running is: “Okay, is there any part of this I can use in a speech? How can I frame this?”

I don’t want to start seeing these groups as case studies. They’re workshops full of incredibly talented and creative young writers. I want to keep myself and my curriculum flexible rather than worry about the potential talking points and video clips (I make a point to film all the sessions).

However it’s a difficult balance.

One thing I've done to offset this feeling is keep a journal. After every day of workshops I write short reflections: the highs and lows, anything of note, anything I need to try for next time, etc. while it's still fresh in mind.

I call them workshop notes (hence the name of this blog) playing on the session notes that OT, Speech, PT, Mental Health, and other therapists make after they see a student.

Knowing ahead of time that I've blocked off time in my schedule to reflect gives me the freedom to stay flexible and present during a session. I can't recommend this enough for anyone doing work in Arts Education. It's an easy enough practice, it's only as time intensive as you want to make it, and it's helped me keep track of the work I've done, making it easier to look back and, as result, look ahead without losing focus on the present