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Carlin Springs and Me

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

When you ask me my favorite place to teach with ETC, I immediately think of teaching at Carlin Springs Elementary School. For 15 years I have been teaching classes and directing plays at this beloved school. It is truly Arlington’s Community School where the number of countries represented is too many to count. Today after watching the kids perform their first student-written play onstage, I can’t help but reflect on my journey with Carlin Springs.

2007 - Carlin Springs Kismet

As a green teaching artist I joined the ETC core staff. At the staff meeting Stan wrote the school names on the board where we had classes. I didn’t know anything about the schools (much less the area) and I picked Carlin Springs. I consistently taught classes and created ETC’s ESOL program here to reinforce language speaking skills using theatre. And with that ETC’s second longest partnership began…

2013 – Carlin Springs SOL-Based Plays

This unique school needed a unique process – a student-created SOL based play. The first few years we focused on reinforcing history and science curriculum.

2022 – The Process Begins for a New Play

This year, for our 9th play, the counselors at the school asked us to reinforce their 5 Steps of Conflict Resolution and to discuss the difference between bullying and regular conflict. Fellow ETC teacher, Katie McCreary, and I got to work!

First, we had to learn The 5 Steps of Conflict Resolution ourselves, and here they are for you to learn as well. The learning never ends, even for teaching artists!

The 5 Steps of Conflict Resolution

  1. Belly Breaths – try to do at least 3

  2. Person 1 – Say the Problem “I don’t like it when you_______, could you please_________.

  3. Person 2 – Say the Solution “Ok, I can _______.

  4. Person 1 – Say “Thank you for ________.

  5. Connect – High-five, fist bump, handshake, thumbs up, or nod.

Once our nineteen 2nd – 5th graders learned the 5 Steps, they brainstormed real life situations that they had seen or could imagine happening on a playground like fighting over whose turn it was on the swings, bullies who tease a group of kids, or cheating during hide and go seek. They picked their setting, their own characters and conflicts. Then they improvised their lines that we turned into a script.

Our play How to Solve a Conflict has Conflict Resolution Superheroes who help kids use the 5 Steps to help solve conflict on the playground. After helping the superheroes with their own conflict, the kids earn their own superhero capes.

The Performance

Today Katie and I arrived for the first performance and she went to set up the sound system while I started getting everyone in their colorful ETC shirts and silky superhero capes. A few kids were excited while others nervously paced the room.

We did our usual physical warm up which included freezing our bodies in big emotive positions. We had just enough time to run our entrances and exits before family members arrived. Try giving last minute notes to excited kids who see their parents are walking in to watch them perform–it is impossible to keep their attention. Then it was time…but wait…everyone has to go to the bathroom, like right now!?!?! So after a quick bathroom break, the show was underway!

They did it.

The show wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be, I couldn’t be prouder of them and the process they went through. I can’t wait to see what they do when they perform again on Friday…and what the new group of kids will do next year…and the next year…and the year after that. Whatever it is, I plan on being there.


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