Provide varied, relevant and high-quality opportunities for students to engage in arts learning.
Cultivate a school environment in which arts learning can thrive.
What went particularly well this year?
I believe that this year’s media arts collaboration with Open School East went well because of the dedication shown by Tab Waterman, the school’s art teacher. Tab ensured that the students were on-task in the classroom and that I could concentrate on teaching, connecting with students and making sure that everyone was engaged in the project. He also was generous with his classroom so that I could arrive early and leave later, store props and gear and move furniture around in order to maximize the time I had to work with each class. Tab took on the role of managing student behaviors in the classroom so that I didn’t have to. I think that having a teacher present during each class is invaluable, especially if that teacher believes in the project and is excited to be a part of the production.
Additionally, having the opportunity to collaborate with artists Nanda D’Agostino and Sarah Turner made this year’s project successful. Their expertise took the project to the next level in the way that it could be shared with students, staff and families. I believe that when students and families are offered opportunities to see all of the different forms that media art can take it can help broaden their ideas of what is possible in the creative realm.Jodi Darby, Open Artist-in-Residence, Spring 2019
What advice would you give to other arts education programs that want to build program quality, equity or sustainability using the principles?
My advice to other arts education programs is to pay attention to what students have to say. I believe that students, especially kids of color and those from underperforming and low-income schools, are given a media arts curriculum that is often paternalistic and assumes to know what is important to youth. When young people are given skills and gear and told to tell a story that doesn’t reflect their experience, it can create a missed opportunity for storytelling and self-expression. I believe that the practice of teaching media arts should be fluid, flexible and open, and that the process of media creation is at its best when it centers the maker, not the instructor. It’s important to support students in sharing their stories in ways that are empowering to them, and that consider and celebrate their unique experiences, origins and learning styles.
I believe that once students can prove a level of proficiency with cameras, recorders and other equipment that there should be a culture of trust created around its use. Young folks- especially those who have been marginalized throughout their lives- benefit greatly from the basic gesture of being trusted with an expensive piece of equipment, without the assumption that they will break it, lose it or steal it. I have also learned that young women benefit greatly from an opportunity to learn and explore technologies on their own or in other groups of girls.
Finally, I think that a program of media arts education should truly be embedded in the school day, as opposed to giving students one big project and then tapering off or not using technology at all.
I would love to see certain easy-to-manage-gear such as iPads, and Zoom audio recorders, utilized in the classroom several days a week, so that students can build up their comfort and confidence. There will always be a learning curve– some students are afraid to touch the gear for fear that they will break it or use it improperly. Other students aren’t sure that they want to insert themselves into a lesson, don’t like to hear their voices or are reluctant to talk on camera. The best way to get beyond those barriers is to routinize and normalize media arts in the classroom every day and encourage constant exploration.Jodi Darby, Open Artist-in-Residence, Spring 2019