Professional Development and Trainings

Neighborhood Bridges and Early Bridges training is available to educators and school districts, both regionally and nationally. The Bridges program is designed to train teachers and teaching artists to implement the Neighborhood Bridges pedagogy and techniques in their local communities and classrooms, helping them to enrich their teaching by using arts-based strategies to accomplish their learning goals.

  • Training is available in sessions as short as 1 hour, but could span multiple sessions.
  • Early Childhood trainings are part of the Think Small catalog, and the trainers are certified by the Minnesota Center for Professional Development (MnCPD) as Specialty Trainers, and can offer training hours that will apply to your learning record!
  • School Age Educator sessions are eligible for CEU credits and cover a variety of topics aligned with state and national standards.
  • You don’t have to be local to receive trainings! Bridges is currently partnering with 12 national sites, from New York to Hawaii.
  • Training for Early Childhood Educators
  • Training for School-Age Educators
  • Regional and National Workshops and Trainings
  • Continuing Education & University Courses
Please join us March 1-5, 2016 at Children’s Theatre Company for the following trainings.

Training Schedule:
March 1st 6-9pm, Interactive Storytelling Training (3 credit hours)
March 3rd 6-9pm, Acting Out Stories from Familiar Books (3 credit hours)
March 5th 9am-4pm, Student Stories/Student Acting & Improvised Storytelling and Storytelling Games (6 credit hours)

The following trainings are also available as on-site professional development. If you are interested in setting up training sessions for your staff or site, please contact Rachel Austin Bernstein.

Click here to register


Participants will be invited into a nationally (and internationally) growing practice: collecting stories from students and then turning those stories into mini-plays for the classroom. This whole-class method not only encourages expressive language development (particularly vocabulary and semantics), but works to build a positive classroom community. The history and far-reaching current practice of this innovative approach to celebrating kids voices will be explored, as participants learn how and why to launch this in their own classrooms.


Take class read-aloud time one step further by learning how to TELL stories and then give students an active role in the storytelling, by making it interactive. The theories behind this approach to teaching and learning, as well as research supporting its effectiveness will be explored. We will focus on how to ask effective questions and encourage children's reflection, which deepens the learning for both teacher and student.


Participants will learn specific strategies to turn a familiar book into a classroom play, staring all of the children in the class. Together, participants will explore how children benefit from this practice. Specific steps, question-asking strategies, and extension activities will be explored as the connections between this practice and common core standards are made clear.


Participants will learn how and why to tell a story without using a book as reference, as improvised storytelling strategies are unpacked and explored. Games that encourage storytelling, on the part of teacher and student, will be shared and practiced. These techniques promote high-quality language use and practice.

In this and each subsequent session, time will be built into each workshop for classroom teachers to address specific concerns and challenges that arise in their classroom.

The Bridges program is designed to train teachers in the implementation of the Neighborhood Bridges pedagogy and techniques in their local communities and classrooms, helping them to enrich their teaching by using arts-based strategies to accomplish their learning goals. Trainings can be design to suit the needs of each school community, and some examples are listed below.

Storytelling 101:
  • Animating your storytelling
  • Understanding functional beats
Animating Your Classroom through Critical Literacy:
  • Exploring multiple perspectives of text through theatre-based strategies
Creative Writing Strategies:
  • Story Starters – getting your students writing
  • Tools to enrich student writing skills through a variety of narrative writing strategies by the exploration of multiple literary genres (i.e. Tall Tales, Myths, Fairy Tales)
Theatre Games:
  • Using theatre strategies to grow self-expression and public speaking skills (i.e. projection, characterization, self-confidence, etc.)
Community Building:
  • How to build a cohesive and collaborative classroom


Professional Development opportunities are available to anyone, anywhere. For more information about what we offer, please see our Early Leaners and School Age tabs. National sites that have received Bridges training so far include:

  • Department of Elementary Education, San Francisco State University
  • Mòolelo Performing Arts Company, San Diego
  • Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • Center for Integrated Arts Education, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
  • Honolulu Theatre for Youth
  • Pomailka’i School, Kahului
  • Adventure Stage Chicago
  • Children’s Music Workshop
  • Fergus Falls A Center for Arts
New York
  • New York City Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects
  • Performing Arts Center, SUNY Purchase
  • Fulton Opera House, Lancaster
  • Institute for Cultural Partnerships, Harrisburg
  • Yokum Institute of the Arts, Wyomissing
North Carolina
  • Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
  • Department of Curriculum & Instruction – Reading & Storytelling, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
  • Department of Theatre & Dance, University of Texas, Austin
  • Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
  • School of Technology and Arts, La Crosse

The following are courses available through the University of Minnesota that explore the unique pedagogy and theoretical underpinnings of the Neighborhood Bridges program and its curriculum. You do not have to be a registered student to enroll in these courses.

TH 5183/CI 5410 Critical Literacy, Storytelling, and Creative Drama (3 credits)
Summer, Two Week Intensive
(Usually scheduled for the second and third week of July from 9am-1pm)

Mondays 3:35-6:30pm Experimental Theater Co-instructors Sonja Kuftinec and Maria Asp

For more information on how to register for these courses, please go to

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