During first quarter, I was unsure how to structure the content of this course. I had an awesome line-up of guest artists visit and "talk story" with the students including: Punahele, Tantra, C-Light, Pedro Ramon, as well as real-life field trips to
About the Goods streetwear store, the Primaphonix recording studio, and a breakdancing class by HawaiiHipHop.com. Students basically got a comprehensive survey of the hip hop elements, but primarily focused on emceeing since that's what I do. I'd say that the skills my students learn are things like cultural awareness, creative thinking and writing, and self-confidence. All day these middle schoolers are told how to act and behave, and don't get me wrong, I've already gotten a reputation for being a strict teacher, but also a lot of fun. We listen to music, watch music videos, and always try to freestyle at the end of class, which usually attracts a crowd from the other After-School All-Stars.
What has been most rewarding for me as a teacher are the little things that I notice about my students such as their self-confidence in sharing their poetry and raps. What I try to stress to them is that I'm showing them how writing allowed me to express myself as a teenager, and how that skill has exponentially allowed me to grow as a person and a business brand. I don't expect all of them to build their own businesses off of music, but at least I can plant creative ideas in their mind.
During our first quarter party, Rap 101 students' recorded an After-School All-Stars theme song and it was shared via slideshow for other students and school faculty to see.
As far as structure, I start each class with a 5 minute free write session. Students come in, grab their journals, sit down, and answer the question of the day. These questions range from hip hop topics to general personal questions. After I give them time to write, we gather in a "circle break" to share our answers. When we completed quarter 1, many students mentioned how they like sharing their thoughts and feelings with each other. I was honestly surprised at how receptive they grew to share with each other. Each class has different content and a guest artist, if he/she is available. I think it's hella dope to see students interacting with other young adults and artists in their community that are using hip hop/rap positively, and students are always really excited to have "famous" people in their class. Lol.
There is truly so much more I can share, but I'm simply grateful for this opportunity for me to be a part of these kids' lives, even for a short while in their youth. Providing them a lens to look at the world through hip hop has already changed many of their perspectives, and I will continue working to do so. There is so much curriculum out there and I'm not saying hip hop is the magic means to teach kids, but I know what it's teaching mine and I know more students can benefit from this.
Stay tuned for the next update! Thank you for reading OTDHipHop fam!
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.