Unguarded Moments: Eavesdropping, Arts-Based Practices, and Transformative Teaching Spaces


  • Cecile Badenhorst Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Christine Arnold Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Julia Halfyard Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Heather McLeod Memorial University of Newfoundland




deep listening, arts-based practices, transformative teaching, COVID-19, social and emotional learning, SoTL, postsecondary learning


What have we learned from the experiences of teaching during COVID-19? Our participant-author group all introduced arts-based practices as a way of reaching students. Arts-based research (ABR) is a diverse field (Leavy, 2020), and in particular the arts can embody and integrate empathetic knowledge when it comes to the emotional aspects of learning (Chilton & Leavy, 2015). Yet, effective ABR practice relies on authentic connection not only with our students but also with each other. In formal institutional spaces, under conditions of stress and anxiety, finding moments of connection is not only challenging, but also requires careful listening as we endeavor to be fully present in these spaces. We use narratives and overheard conversations to explore how we coax our students to connect to content, to ourselves, and to each other. We notice these vulnerable spaces through seeing and listening and draw on our experiences as teachers in a Faculty of Education, a postsecondary community, to explore the themes of arts-based practices and deep listening. We show how arts-based practices require us to be present in our bodies, to look, listen, and notice. Although sometimes risky, the unpredictable aspect of arts-based practices taps into the vitality and spontaneity of human lives that students find meaningful and enjoyable. The purpose of this paper is to share our experiences and to examine exactly why these practices worked.