TLA Classes

We offer online classes to help you deepen your understanding of Transformative Language Arts, explore the craft of various genres and arts related to TLA, and develop your livelihood, community work, and service related to TLA.

Designed and taught by leading teachers, transformative language artists and activists, and master facilitators (want to be one of them?), these classes offer you ample opportunities to grow your art of words, your business and service, and your conversation with your life work.

The online nature of the classes allows you to participate from anywhere in the world (provided you have internet access) at any time of the day while, and at the same time, the intimate and welcoming atmosphere of the classes helps students find community, inspiration, and greater purpose.

While each class is unique to the teacher's style, all classes include hands-on activities (writing, storytelling, theater, spoken word, visual arts, music and/or other prompts), plus great resources, readings, and guidance. We use the online educational platform, Moodle. Currently we offer two class formats:

  • Community Online Classes have a set period of time, ranging from four to six weeks with a small cohort of five to 15 people. Every Wednesday a new weekly module opens for you to engage with on your own time, with forums and opportunities to share, interact, and receive feedback from peers and the teacher. If the teacher wants to schedule a live meeting, they will coordinate directly with enrolled participants. Classes remain open and available to enrolled participants for at least a month after the class end date.
  • Self-Paced Online Classes have no set period of time and no cohort. All modules are available upon enrollment for you to engage with on your own time. Each self-paced class includes one forum to share, interact, and give/receive feedback from peers.

Enrollment Cost

Classes are priced by the number of weeks they run, and members get a $20 discount. Early Bird rates end two weeks before the class start date, and registration increases by $40 thereafter.

Each registration is for one participant only, and all classes, unless arrangements are approved beforehand by the teacher and the TLA Network managing director, are for people age 16 and up.

NOTE: When there is a sale, the class page only displays the non-member discounted price. If you are a member, it will show the member discount once you start the registration process.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Cancellations: A nonrefundable fee of 10% is included in each registration. No cancellations after the class begins. In the case of extenuating circumstances, please contact us.

Low Enrollment Cancellations: Classes that do not meet a minimum enrollment may be canceled a minimum of 3 days prior to the first class meeting with full refunds for all registrants.

Incomplete: Students seeking certification in TLA Foundations who cannot complete a class due to extenuating circumstances may be granted a discounted registration on the next available offering of that class. To be eligible for the discount students must communicate their circumstance to the teacher as soon as possible.

Self-Paced Online Classes

Community Online Classes

    • 25 Mar 2020
    • 05 May 2020
    • Online
    • 6

    This thorough introduction to Transformative Language Arts (TLA) encompasses the personal and the global, the contemporary and the historic, and how TLA can be practiced through writing, storytelling, performance, song, and collaborative, expressive and integrated arts. Each week includes short readings, a lively discussion, and invigorating writing prompts to help you articulate more of your own TLA callings.

    Participants should plan on spending 3-5 hours on class assignments each week. We will also have two 40-minute conference calls (time to be determined in concert with everyone’s schedules), at the beginning and end of the class, to get to know one another and discuss questions and topics voice-to-voice.

    Every week includes website to visit and engage with, whether that engagement be simply perusing a site and learning about a movement, organization, watching a video or listening to a podcast. Weekly writing prompts give you room to work and play through what you know, are coming to know, and how this knowledge cross-pollinates with what you do and who you are.

    This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

    To order a copy of The Power of Words: A TLA Reader (required text for class), please scroll down.

    Week by Week

    Week One: TLA history, fields and traditions

    An overview of theory and practice, including genres, arts and community practices, ethics, and your own values informing your TLA. Explore TLA in many forms–from poetry therapy to social change theater to healing storytelling–and share what ignites your soul and work.

    Week Two: TLA in Service: health, healing, spirituality, and personal growth.

    We’re explore how TLA can help people find their way home through health or emotional crises or wounds, spiritual callings, and many manner of personal growth. Starting with the personal, and recognizing how the personal is political, we look at ways in which TLA can foster health, healing, and homecoming, and also some of our cultural biases and blindnesses about such directions.

    Week Three: TLA as Catalyst: community, culture, history, and social change.

    We’ll look at TLA in relation to community-building, culture-shifting, history-revisioning, and social change, and particularly explore what it means and can mean to be part of various communities.

    Week Four:  TLA and Right Livelihood: Ways to Make a Living and a Life.

    What are our callings for how we make a living and how we live a life? We’ll dive into how TLA intersects with our life’s work (whether that work relates to a paycheck, volunteering, or other aspects of our life), and develop plans for where we’re led to go.

    Week Five: TLA in Action: Facilitation, Consulting, Collaboration, Coaching and More.

    Looking at the ethics of our work, art, and community involvement, we’ll discuss and write about the specific forms of TLA we do and want to do.

    Week Six: TLA and You: Plans, Visions, and Maps.

    Deepening our plans for the work, art, and community-making ahead, we’ll clarify what’s right for us to pursue next, what support and tools we need along the way, and the future envision.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is ideal for a wide variety of people, including professionals who want to infuse TLA into their teaching, counseling, pastoral work, arts collaboration, and community work; writers, storytellers, performers and other artists who want to develop their facilitation of writing, songwriting, expressive arts, drama therapy and community theater, collaborative arts, storytelling, and integrated arts; and perspective or current students or alumni of TLA studies.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    Required Text: The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman. You can purchase the text on Amazon.

    About the Teacher

    Joanna Tebbs Young is a Writer and Transformative Writing Facilitator and Coach. She holds a Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College and is a certified instructor through the Center for Journal Therapy. Joanna writes weekly columns for two local newspapers and offers workshops at her writing center in Rutland, VT. Her blog and coaching information can be found at

    Read TLA Founder Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s article, “Why I’m a Transformative Language Artist” in Huffington Post.

    • 25 Mar 2020
    • 05 May 2020
    • Online
    • 2

    This six-week online course starts out from four fundamental premises about writing memoir:

    • Everyone has a life story worth exploring in writing;
    • Even if you don’t intend to publish your writing, the journey is worth taking as a voyage of self-understanding;
    • You don’t have to “be a writer” to write with passion and purpose about your life, in ways that others will find compelling and meaningful;
    • You don’t have to have a plan in place before you start writing; in fact, it can be better to just set off on the journey in a light-hearted way, without too many expectations or concerns.

    In her Nautilus Award-winning writer’s guide, The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir, Jennifer developed a unique elemental journey framework, which she put into practice in her own memoir, What I Forgot…And Why I Remembered. The elemental journey uses the four elements—Earth, Water, Fire and Air—as potent metaphors for different stages and aspects of our lives. 

    In this course, we’ll work with a different element each week, engaging with a variety of thought-provoking prompts that will invite you to write about key people, places and events at different stages of your life. You will explore the passions that have sent you off in new directions, as well as the challenges you have encountered in life. 

    Worksheets, memoir excerpts and discussion questions will encourage reflection on the multifarious ways that a life story can be told. “The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir” will spark your creativity, generating a substantial amount of new writing while also offering specific guidance on how to refine your story, find your audience, and craft a dynamic, transformative memoir. 

    See more at Jennifer Facebook event page and read Jennifer's "Purposeful Memoir as a Path to a Thriving Future," published in The Artful Mind here.

    Week by Week

    Week 1 / Embarking on the Journey

    The first week will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of purposeful memoir, including some first forays into defining your own purpose in writing memoir, along with initial “warm-up” writing exercises.

    Week 2 / Earth: Returning to the Ground of Childhood

    Earth is an appropriate metaphor for the childhood years, birth to age 12, when so much of our personality is formed and our values set. We’ll read short excerpts from accounts of childhood by acclaimed writers such as Joy Harjo and Terry Tempest Williams, and begin to dig into key scenes from your own childhood.

    Week 3 / Water: Joining the Cultural Stream of Your Time & Place

    In the teenage and young adult years, the decade from 13 – 23, we join the cultural flow of our time and place, and either begin to swim with the tide, or strike off in our own direction. We’ll read accounts of these sometimes tumultuous years by memoirists such as James McBride and Audre Lorde, and begin to chart the waters of your own experience. 

    Week 4 / Fire: The Passions, Trials and Tribulations of Adulthood

    Fire is a potent element, which can represent both our passions and the challenges that come into every life. This week we’ll explore how the more fiery passages of our adult lives have unfolded, noting the ways that they connect to our formative experiences in childhood and youth. We’ll read some published narratives of claiming one’s passion as well as going through adult trials and tribulations, for example in memoirs by Eve Ensler and Gloria Anzaldua.

    Week 5 / Air / Finding Your Purpose, Audience and Timeline

    Air represents the space of reflection, and in this penultimate week of the class we’ll take some time to look back over the writing we’ve done, and think about defining a purpose and a target audience for the memoir you want to write. We’ll also do some work with timeline—aligning your personal history with the larger historical landscape of your time and place. 

    Week 6 / Bringing it home: polishing and next steps

    In the final week of the class, you’ll be invited to revise and polish one piece of writing to share with the group for peer and instructor feedback. We’ll also work on crafting a personal, purposeful “mission statement” for your memoir work, which will give you a firm platform from which to launch the next stage of your writing journey. 

    Who Should Take This Class

    Purposeful memoir is a contemplative practice that is excellent for people who are interested in writing a memoir for publication, as well as for anyone who would like to use writing as a means of reflecting more deeply on their life story. The class creates a welcoming circle that invites connection and community-building as we embark on an individual and collective exploration of our life experiences as they have unfolded in the larger landscapes of our time and place. 


    In this online class our intention is to come together as a warm, encouraging writing community to inspire each other on a shared journey of inquiry into our lives. Each week a new set of resources, reflections, worksheets, and writing prompts will be released, offering multiple entry points into your own life story. Students should expect to spend 2-3 hours per week perusing resources and readings, participating in forum discussions, and responding to the writing prompts. There will be optional opportunities throughout the course for sharing excerpts from your writing for peer and instructor response, following structured guidelines for productive feedback. 

    About the Teacher

    Jennifer Browdy earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at New York University; she has taught literature, writing and media arts at the college level for more than 30 years and is currently chair of the Language and Literature Division at Bard College/Simon’s Rock. Her memoir, What I Forgot ...And Why I Remembered was a finalist for the 2018 International Book Awards. Her writer’s guide, The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir, won a 2017 Nautilus Silver Award for “books that make the world better.” 

    The Founding Director of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, an arts organization she ran for seven years, Jennifer has long had an interest in adult education and community arts activism. She provides coaching and manuscript review for authors in fiction and nonfiction, and offers memoir workshops nationally and internationally, including 2019 workshops at Mt. Holyoke College, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, Kripalu, Bioneers and the Transformative Language Arts Network. 

    Jennifer is the editor of three anthologies: Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America & the Caribbean (Beacon Press, 2017); African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010); and Writing Fire: Celebrating the Power of Women’s Words (Green Fire Press, 2017). As publisher of Green Fire Press, Jennifer recently published Nature, Culture & the Sacred: A Woman Listens for Leadership, by Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons (Nautilus Gold Medal, 2019), and Wisdom Lessons: Spirited Guidance from an Ojibwe Great-Grandmother, by Native American activist Mary Lyons. She is also the editor of the online magazine Fired Up! Creative Expression for Challenging Times

    Find out more at

    Recent articles and interviews with Jennifer on purposeful memoir:

    “Purposeful Memoir as a Path to a Thriving Future.” The Artful Mind. Dec 2019/Jan2020.

    Hyacinth Podcast - Episode 4, December 2019. “Memory Work: How our personal stories and public histories affect the way we move through the world.”

    Other interviews and media here:

    • 10 Jun 2020
    • 21 Jul 2020
    • Online
    • 14

    TLA can be a powerful change agent in the world, one whose borders reach far beyond workshops, coaching, performance, and other forms of traditional TLA work. In this class, we’ll explore how creating intentional communal spaces, taking an inward look, working across vast definitions of “difference” (including race, religion, gender, class, living with ability or health challenges, and more), can help foster greater cohesion and expression in a fragmented culture. We’ll also learn how to navigate difficult situations and people more smoothly and compassionately, as well as how to joyfully sustain ourselves in our own individual TLA callings.

    As a philosophy, TLA invites many practitioners to the table, including those drawing on various models of facilitation, some reified and some more open source (from social change theater to poetry therapy to healing stories). We'll overview those models as they speak to making and sustaining community and positive individual and social change. As we travel through the class, we'll focus especially on embodying compassion in action through how we approach facilitation, and design, promote, assess, and learn from the workshops and other sessions we lead. Facilitating for community and change also encompasses cultivating our own supportive community and capacity for resilience and wonder as we and the world change.

    The Art of Facilitation Series: Facilitation is a life-long art of presence, engagement, and ethics. By immersing yourself in a variety of facilitation traditions, approaches, tools, techniques, best practices, and philosophies, you can discover, embody, and enact your life's work and art in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, coaching and consulting sessions. "The Art of Facilitation: Roots and Blossoms of TLA Facilitation" (Jan. 15 - Feb. 25, 2020, and again in early 2021) explored designing, organizing, facilitating and assessing relevant, effective, and creative sessions (this class will be offered again next winter). "The Art of Facilitation: Facilitating Change and Community" focuses on fostering community and working with various populations for transformation, discovery, and liberation. You may take the classes in any order.

    Week By Week

    Week 1: FACILITATING FOR COMMUNITY:  In a fragmented and polarized society, TLA facilitation has the potential to create life-giving communities which nourish, sustain, and build bridges across many disparate cultures. We’ll talk about various methods of deepening community, including food, rituals, celebrations, and creative collaboration.

    Week 2: FACILITATING FOR CHANGE:  What kind of change do you want to facilitate?  You will define what change means to you, as well as engage in inward reflection on motives, expectations, and dreams. In addition, we’ll discuss how to handle when that change actually happens, and how to better prepare for unexpected challenges that might arise. 

    Week 3: A WIDE EMBRACE: Working with difference: across race, religion, ethnicity, nations, and gender entails great self-awareness and ongoing self- and other-study, particularly in understanding our own privilege and challenges.

    Week 4: COMPASSION IN ACTION: Working with people living with learning differences, disabilities, serious illness (mental, spiritual, physical), can often lead us into challenging places. We'll look at what we need to know when approaching such communities and individuals, where we can find resources and support, and especially  how to remain in our  role as facilitator.

    Week 5: FACILITATING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: Being in relationship with humans sometimes means entering  uncomfortable places and impossible situations. We'll delve into working with challenging people and difficult scenarios, including best practices for navigating such moments with grace and compassion.

    Week 6: THE LIFELONG ART OF FACILITATION: Because the art of facilitation is a whole-self, full-hearted calling, one of our tasks is to embrace continual learning, growing, changing. How do we keep ourselves fresh and alive amidst such important work? We’ll talk about practices and strategies that can enable us to continue to bring wisdom, compassion, and rest to the people we serve.

    Guest Teachers

    Katt Lissard is artistic director and co-founder of The Winter/Summer Institute (WSI), an international HIV/AIDS & Theatre for Social Change project based in NYC and Lesotho, Africa. WSI’s process is built on collaborative dialogue and theatre-making with/in communities and across cultures. A former Goddard faculty member with extensive TLA experience in the Goddard Graduate Institute, Katt currently teaches in BMCC’s Center for Ethnic Studies department in New York. She’ll present on facilitating theatre for social change across cultures and boundaries.

    Caleb Winebrenner is a storyteller, poet, and educator. He holds an MA in Educational Theatre. At both the high school and college levels, he crafts his classes to be engaging events for everyone. Caleb has been a member of the TLA Network Council for several years, and he is chair of the 2019 and 2020 Power of Words conference. He will address how to facilitate and teach for different learning styles and accommodating special needs, speaking both as an educator and from his own experiences of living with cerebral palsy.

    Suzi Q. Smith is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, A nationally recognized slam poet and coach (and one of the most well-known performing poets in the U.S.), she is currently the co-chair of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. An artist and educator whose primary language is poetry, Suzi has taught creative writing, poetry, spoken word, public speaking, MC school, and social studies for over a decade. She’s been an educator in many diverse environments: elementary schools, middle schools, traditional and alternative pathways high schools, hospitals, residential treatment centers, prisons, and more. Suzi will address how to build adaptive and inclusive facilitation models that allow you to respond to the needs of the population you serve.

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (bio below) will speak on facilitating difficult situations and challenging individuals and communities.

    Who This Class is For

    This class is intended for all who facilitate or want to facilitate TLA, whether it takes the form of writing, storytelling, spoken word, drama, debate, public speaking, organizational storytelling, or other areas. While focusing on workshop facilitation, this class will also help students better facilitate TLA in other settings, including classrooms, coaching sessions, meetings, and more. Because learning to facilitate well is a lifelong art, this class is aimed toward all who seek to deepen their facilitation practice, whether they are a beginner or seasoned facilitator. The class meets students wherever they are.


    This class encompasses weekly discussions (with a guiding question each week), creative writing prompts, readings, podcasts and videos, ample resources, and live video-conferences with people who can bring to the table vast experience with a wide spectrum of communities. The weekly video-conferences (which can be done easily on computers or phones), which will be held for four Sundays at 8 p.m. EST/ 7 p.m. CST/ 6 p.m. MST/ 5 p.m. PST -- 6/20, 6/27, 7/11 and 7/18 -- also allows time for students to discuss and practice aspects of facilitation.

    Teacher Bios

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and the author of 23 books, including Miriam's Well, a novel; Everyday Magic, memoir, and Following the Curve, poetry. Her previous work includes Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather. Mirriam-Goldberg has facilitated community writing workshops widely since 1992 with diverse populations throughout the Midwest, the U.S., and in Mexico, including people living with serious illness, intergenerational communities, women living in public housing, teens and young adults, and humans at large in big-life transitions. She offers one-on-one coaching on writing and right livelihood. She co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats with Kelley Hunt and the Your Right Livelihood training with Laura Packer. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. Her Patreon campaign to create transformative writing, workshops, and podcasts and offering patrons weekly inspirations is here.

    Joy Roulier Sawyer is the author of two poetry collections, Tongues of Men and Angels and Lifeguards as well as several nonfiction books. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have been widely published. Joy holds an MA from New York University in Creative Writing and a master's degree in counseling. Her extensive training and experience as a licensed professional counselor and in  poetry/journal therapy gives her special expertise in facilitating expressive writing workshops. Joy was selected by poetry therapy pioneers to revise and update Arleen McCarty Hynes’ groundbreaking textbook, Biblio/Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process. For over a decade, she’s taught at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the largest literary center in the West. Along with her other creative writing and poetry classes, Joy helps facilitate Lighthouses's Denver Public Library, Arvada Library, and Edgewater Library’s Hard Times workshops, designed for those experiencing homelessness or poverty, as well as the Writing to Be Free program, an outreach for women transitioning out of incarceration. She has also taught at the University of Denver and in the TLA MA program at Goddard College. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Past Classes

24 Apr 2019 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Mar 2019 Fantastic Folktales & Visionary Angles to Transform Our Stories // with Lyn Ford
16 Jan 2019 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
24 Oct 2018 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
24 Oct 2018 Leverage Your TLA Expertise for Publication, Community, Business, and Livelihood // with Yvette Hyater-Adams
05 Sep 2018 Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Life Stories for Change // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
27 Jun 2018 & They Call Us Crazy: Outsider Writing to Cross the Borders of Human Imagination // with Caits Meissner
27 Jun 2018 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennye Patterson
27 Jun 2018 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
16 May 2018 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
04 Apr 2018 Stories with Spirit: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice // with Regi Carpenter
14 Mar 2018 Writing for Social Change: Redream a Just World // with Anya Achtenberg
21 Feb 2018 Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Artists, Educators, & Activists // with Diane Silver
10 Jan 2018 Fantastic Folktales & Visionary Angles to Transform Our Stories // with Lyn Ford
18 Oct 2017 Writing Our Lives: The Poetic Self & Transformation // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
18 Oct 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Sep 2017 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance // with Kelly DuMar
06 Sep 2017 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Jun 2017 The Five Senses and Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry // with Angie River
14 Jun 2017 The Poetics of Witness: Writing Beyond the Self // with Caits Meissner
19 Apr 2017 Diving and Emerging: Finding Your Voice and Identity in Personal Stories // with Regi Carpenter
01 Mar 2017 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
01 Mar 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
11 Jan 2017 Your Callings, Your Livelihood, Your Life // With Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
11 Jan 2017 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
26 Oct 2016 Leverage Your TLA Expertise for Publication, Community, Business, and Livelihood // with Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams
26 Oct 2016 Not Enough Spoons: Writing About Disability & Chronic Illness // with Angie River
14 Sep 2016 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Sep 2016 Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work, and the Business of Creativity // with Laura Packer
29 Jun 2016 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
29 Jun 2016 Making the Leap into Work You Love // with Scott Youmans
18 May 2016 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations
18 May 2016 Saturated Selfies: Intentional and Intense Photography and Writing
28 Mar 2016 Gathering Courage: Still-Doing, Big Journaling, and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin Accommodating the Soul
15 Feb 2016 Living Out Loud: Healing Through Storytelling and Writing
15 Feb 2016 Soulful Songwriting: How To Begin, Collaborate, And Finish Your Song
04 Jan 2016 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance
04 Jan 2016 The Five Senses and the Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 873 Lansdowne, PA 19050 USA

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