What went particularly well this year? Why?
One of the principles that we focused on this year was Engage and support experienced and skilled arts educators, including teaching artists, art specialists, artists in residence, and classroom teachers. We have always trained and supported our teaching artists. Increasingly over the years, the teaching artists have been accepted as part of the school community by students and staff. In our final year, strong relationships have developed between our teaching artists and the rest of the school community, especially with long time staff and older students that have been with the program for several years.
Over the last couple of years, we have been increasingly intentional about supporting our classroom teachers as well. Classroom teachers have become more invested in the program as they see how art has benefited their students’ learning and engagement. This year, more teachers learned the art lessons alongside their students during art class. Teacher participation in art activities in their classrooms and in the community is increasing as well. We see more artwork in the hallways at all grade levels.
This year all teachers, including specialists, were required to have an art integration goal. Our team provided several opportunities for Art Integration Professional Development, which was well received. Teachers also felt comfortable asking teaching artists for specific help, either with their art integration goal or other art projects. Teachers are committed to art integration and arts learning and want to learn how best to incorporate art methods, materials and skills into teaching all of their subjects.
Sunset staff have also been more engaged this year with community activities, such as fundraisers, art shows and family art nights. This year many classes worked together to create a collaborative art piece. These artworks were auctioned off at Sunset’s Art Auction held at Coos Art Museum. Funds raised will be used to support future Sunset art programs.
What advice would you give to other arts education programs that want to build program quality, equity or sustainability using the principles?
The Studio to School Principles and our rubric helped us focus on the pathway to achieve our desired outcomes. It is important to start with the principles – all of them, but especially focus on the ones that will shape your art program the most. Be patient, be well organized, work sequentially to build a strong program base over time. It is important to listen to teacher and student input and remember to check in with them to receive feedback about the direction your program is moving towards. Be flexible, but stick to your program standards and principle as best you can. Also, don’t be afraid to change direction if necessary.