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 member's get a $20 discount. Early Bird rates end two weeks before the class start date, and registration increases by $40 thereafter.

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

    • 24 Apr 2019
    • 05 Jun 2019
    • 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.

    • 26 Jun 2019
    • 30 Jul 2019
    • Online
    • 10

    When we tell and listen to stories we are part of a millennia-long tradition. Humans have always told stories; spoken stories are wired into our brains for community, relationships, and connection, as well as for entertainment.

    This workshop is for anyone interested in becoming a better storyteller, whether from the stage, at bedtime, in the office, or elsewhere. While we will focus on stories told live in the moment, this class is helpful for anyone who wants to e a better speaker, writer, communicator, and transformative language artist.

    Objectives and goals:

    1. Participants will learn about the history and uses of storytelling.
    2. Participants will develop at least four stories that they can comfortable tell, including one folktale, one personal story, and one scary story. Participants will have the opportunity to practice storytelling during weekly video conferences (to be scheduled).
    3. Participants will explore different places and audiences for storytelling.
    4. Participants will understand how the story triangle works and how they can use it in their own storytelling to develop better stories for specific audiences.
    5. Participants will explore a range of storytelling techniques.
    6. Participants will consider the ethical uses of storytelling.
    Required reading: From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story

    Week by Week

    Week One: Introduction to live storytelling. History, uses, and the importance of listening. Discuss the story triangle. Explore expectations and why you are taking this class.

    Week Two: Personal stories. Appropriate settings to tell, the risks and benefits of using storytelling as therapy, what to do when emotions rise up. Discuss ethics of storytelling. Discuss story structure.

    Week Three: Tell personal story. Discuss folktales. Resources, appropriation, selecting the right story for an audience, participatory stories. Research local storytelling options. Discuss how to learn a story so it can be told without paper.

    Week Four: Tell folktale. Discuss scary stories and the importance of context. What constitutes a scary story, language and imagery, sensory detail. Discuss storytelling applications and stage fright.

    Week Five: Tell scary story. Discuss other kinds of stories including myths, legends, historical, fractured fair tales, literary, spiritual. Storytelling as a honing and clarifying tool for writing and growth.

    Week Six: Tell other or favorite from class. Revisit why you took the class and what your next steps will be. Make a commitment with other class member for a future check in and further development if desired.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This online and video conference class is for people who are interested in learning to tell stories out loud, without notes. This class works well for people who are interested in performance, conquering public speaking, listening, and are willing to take a risk to step outside of their comfort zone within a safe and supportive environment. Participants will get far more out of the class if they can commit to the weekly video calls.


    Participants can expect to spend 2-4 hours a week reading assignments, writing in response to prompts, story crafting, telling their own story, watching, and listening to stories from others during a weekly video conference (to be scheduled). Participants will receive and give positive, strengths-based feedback when responding to peers' work.

    About the Teacher

    Laura Packer is a long-time storyteller, coach, writer, and consultant. She is the author of the definitive guide to storytelling, From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story. She is co-teaching the TLAN Right Livelihood Professional Training with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Laura is the winner of many awards including the 2010 National Storytelling Network Oracle Award, the 2012 League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling Brother Blue Award, the 2016 and 2018 Kansas City Fringe Festival Best of Fringe, and the 2017 National Storytelling Network Mentorship Award. Laura performs, runs venues, coaches, writes, and helps individuals find their voice and use their story to make the world a better place. For more information go to and

    • 26 Jun 2019
    • 30 Jul 2019
    • Online
    • 5

    Want to immerse yourself into poetry you may already love or will get to fall in love while also generating a lot of new poems of your own? This six-week class leads you on a journey through sparkling poetry from many contemporary and and some more ancient poets from across America and around the world, including Rumi, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Tomas Transtromer, Seamus Heaney, Wislawa Szymborska, William Stafford, Pattiann Rogers, Rainer-Maria Rilke, Tess Gallagher, Audre Lorde, Jane Hirshfield, Simon Ortiz, and Gregory Orr. 

    Each week features two or three of the poets, including a sampling of their poetry, links to articles and interviews, and a summary about what their work offers us as readers and writers. Additionally, each week highlights a discussion on the craft of writing poetry, writing tips, and lots of writing prompts to help you open doors to new poems. We come together to share our poetry, responses to one another's poetry, and sparks for new ways to consider the poetic power of language. By the end of the workshop, you'll have a big bunch of new poems and, through the poets we're exploring, lots of inspiring poet-companions you're now familiar with and can visit regularly in libraries and bookstores.

    Week by Week

    Week One: Ordinary Magic – Tess Gallagher and Seamus Heaney: Looking at the poetry of people who show us the extraordinary in the ordinary – in the U.S. and in Ireland -- we'll open up our eyes to see writing prompts and potential in what's around us wherever we are.

    Week Two: Wild at Heart – Pattiann Rogers and Tomas Transtromer: Poets who write deeply about the earth and sky can show us new ways to see what's in and beyond our own backyards. This week's poets, from Sweden and the U.S., open windows into the natural sciences and the mysterious living earth all around us, showing us new and ancient ways to write about what endures and what changes in the other-than-human world.

    Week Three: Liberation and Illumination – Andre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Simon Ortiz: Poets who write of transformation and freedom, including women and writers of color, illuminate what it is to break silences, speak of recovered or emerging traditions, and amplify the voices that show us more of who are as a people. Poets this week hail from the U.S., the Acoma Pueblo nation, and the Virgin Islands.

    Week Four: Wandering Mystics – Rumi, Mary Oliver, and Rainer-Maria Rilke: This week's poetry takes to the less-traveled path through exploring the spirit-journeying poems of writers from Germany, Persia/Afghanistan, and the U.S. We'll accompany these poets through mystical treks accompanied by angels (Rilke), the seen and unseen (Rumi), and dogs and other plants and animals (Mary Oliver) as we wander into our own new poetry.

    Week Five: Healing Fountains – Gregory Orr, Wislawa Szymborska, and Sharon Olds: Through exploring the poetry of personal and communal healing, we can find and write some of our own healing fountains, surfacing what's ripe for revising in our lives and life stories to craft more authentic and generous narratives to write and live. This week features poets from Poland and the U.S.

    Week Six: Maps to Where We Live – Jane Hirshfield and William Stafford: Poetry can also help us revision where and how we live, lighting from within the details and big picture views of our lives. By considering the work of these poets who write so vividly of the present, and what it means to land in the here and now of each moment, we can better embrace the patterns our lives and poetry give us.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This is a generative class for all people who drawn to poetry, whether you're just getting started or have a long-time practice. All the writing prompts and interactive activities are designed to meet you where you are and gather us into a vibrant poetry community for the duration of our time together.


    This is an online class, yet we strive to come together in council, reaching across the miles to hold one another's words and reflect deeply on what we discover individually and together. Each week includes ample writing prompts, a short essay on the poets we're visiting with this week, a discussion and examples of the craft of strong writing, and a short meditative piece (often a podcast) about this week's theme, including considerations for your own immersion into the writing life.

    Expect to spend a minimum of 2-5 hours per week on writing. Participants are also asked to respond to at least three other participants' work each week, deepening our dialogue altogether. Most of the exercises will give participants options to write in the genre of their choice.

    About the Teacher

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the author of two dozen books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts  at Goddard College where she teaches. Her books include Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir; and Chasing Weather, poetry with photography from Stephen Locke. A writing and right livelihood coach, working with people to bring what wants to be written and lived into being, Mirriam-Goldberg offers community writing workshops widely, and with Kelley Hunt, Brave Voice retreats. She also co-leads the Right Livelihood Professional Training with Laura Packer. For over three decades, Caryn has worked extensively with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff or board member, and consultant on collaborative and community arts, group process, and better meetings. Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives.

    • 04 Sep 2019
    • 15 Oct 2019
    • Online
    • 17

    Our current economic, political, and social systems are serving fewer and fewer people, not to mention destroying the environment.

    I don’t know what a future society will look like, but if it is to meet our human needs better than our current society does, I believe it needs to be formed with certain values in mind.

    Fortunately, these values can be taught, not just through stories, songs, dances, and poems about the values, but also through the very processes of telling or creating stories, singing or creating songs, and so on. In other words, our artistic processes themselves can give people experiences that open them to values that are necessary for an improved society.

    In this 6-week course, I'll briefly lay out a theory of how values can be influenced, as well as the eight values I’ve chosen as “values of a future society.” I’ll introduce the values one at a time and give examples of processes from storytelling that support each value. Then I’ll help you identify and/or create processes that can give others experiences of each value, from your particular type of transformational language work.

    Key to this course is inspiring each other to notice the transformative power of the creative processes. Together, we’ll engage in building an enlarging web of activities that can help people align themselves with currents that, I believe, will help move us toward a more just, supportive, and enlightened society.

    Week by Week

    Prework: Before the first lesson, I'll ask you to describe briefly the type of transformative language arts work you do (or are interested in doing), so that we can begin to notice the diverse strengths among us.

    Week 1

    What are we doing here? The difficulties of thinking about a future society. Eight values to help guide the path.

    The three ways it’s possible to influence someone else’s values. Influencing via content versus influencing via process: the advantages and disadvantages of each. Which processes are you familiar with in your own area of practice? Which processes are you drawn to learn more about?

    In Lessons 2 through 5, I’ll explain how the processes of storytelling can promote each of the two values introduced in the lesson. Then I'll guide us through an example process for each value. Finally, I’ll help you identify, adapt, and/or create processes from your work than can give your audience or students an implicit experience of the values.

    Week 2

    Value #1, "The Power of Listening”

    Value #2, “A Predisposition To Compassion,” as opposed to our cultural predisposition to evaluation.

    Week 3

    Value #3, “The Importance of Relationships.” How our society systematically discourages us from being truly close to each other and distracts us from the pursuit of connection.

    Value #4, “The Efficacy of Openness.” How openness and authenticity make everything else go better.

    Week 4

    Value #5, “The Preciousness of Every Human Point of View.” Each human has a unique and valuable perspective and set of experiences.

    Value #6, “The Universality of Human Potential.” All humans are capable of learning all human subjects. The destructive fallacy of “talent,” fostered by a society dependent on profit.

    Week 5

    Value #7, “The Whole Mind: Conceptual Thinking Plus Image Thinking.” Since the Enlightenment, our view of thinking has been too narrow; it’s time to broaden it.

    Value #8, “Emotion’s Dual Role in Thinking.” Emotion is required for thinking, but, at the same time, unhealed emotional hurt can distort our thinking.

    Week 6

    Summing up the relationships we’ve explored between processes and values. Are there patterns that emerge from the processes that all the course members identified for each of the eight values?

    How can what we’ve done here be carried forward? What does all this teach us about transformative language arts as a field?

    Who Should Take This Class

    Storytellers, fiction writers, narrative poets, songwriters, improvisational singers, dramatists, etc. - all who use language to help people imagine or convey their experience - especially those interested in teaching their art or discipline with an eye toward promoting generative values.

    The course will be most helpful to those with enough experience in their work to have already developed some processes for doing and/or teaching their art/discipline. I define transformative language arts broadly. If you think your work might belong here, it likely does!


    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. A gentle but clear process allows each participant to work at her/his own pace.

    The instructor will also host a live webinar call each week, at a time based on the schedules of the enrolled students. You will be able to attend the calls via computer or via telephone. All calls, including the visuals, will be recorded; the recordings will be available for any class member who needs to miss any of the calls.

    About the Teacher

    In 1970, Doug Lipman was a struggling teacher of troubled adolescents. He had given up connecting with them when one day, by accident, he found himelf telling them a story. They responded! Ever since, he has pursued the transformative power of storytelling.

    Over the decades, Doug has coached hundreds of people on their storytelling, writing, and recordings. He is the author of three books on storytelling (Improving Your Storytelling, The Storytelling Coach, and Storytelling Games), scores of published articles, and over 150 issues of his own email newsletters, including "eTips from the Storytelling Coach (

    A professional storyteller since 1976, Doug has performed and led workshops on three continents and led many online courses and webinars. His ongoing search for effective ways to teach the transformative power of storytelling has led to projects such as a new paradigm for coaching storytellers, an exploration of the seldom-noticed Hidden Storytelling Skills, and the pursuit of ways that storytelling and related arts can allow our true humanity to blossom.

Past Classes

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. Kansas, P.O. Box 442633, Lawrence, KS 66044

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