We really enjoyed reading your final round of reflections! For this post we asked you to think about the principles your team was focused on this year, to reflect on what went particularly well, and why, and include any advice you would provide to other arts education programs that want to incorporate the principles into their program design. Your posts were insightful and chocked full of information that will have our staff reflecting well into the future. Here are some of the shared themes from Reflection #15.

You shared that one of the things that went particularly well this year were the development of strong relationships between teachers, teaching artists and the rest of the school community. Having a teaching artist to support teachers and staff allowed for shared information and training, which in turn grew the capacity and confidence of the staff to integrate arts more broadly. Several of you mentioned increased partnerships with community arts organizations; this has led to guest artists in the classroom and the development of additional student experiences in music, theater, and all creative arts learning.

You also noted an increase in student participation and/or interest due to the noticeable increase in opportunities for youth to get involved in the arts in a myriad of ways. This enthusiasm from the youth involved has trickled out to families and the community beyond. Many of you mentioned that community involvement has greatly increased through volunteerism, participation, and fundraising – as the community members have seen the benefits of the program and are more motivated to see it continue. Learning community members from Hollywood Open Meadow shared that, “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.” (see posts from Hollywood Open Meadow, Three Rivers IRVAC, OSA David Douglas)

Several of you also noted that getting the school principals/administration involved has proven beneficial. When the administration was fully bought-in to the purpose and benefits of arts integration, staff were able to grow their capacities and confidence. This allowed the project management team to become a true learning community. “Over the past five years, I’ve observed growth in professionalism. At the beginning the teachers were tense and now when they see arts integration as an opportunity,” shared community members from RACC Hillsboro. (see posts from RACC Hillsboro, SBMF Lincoln City Schools, Lane Arts Oaklea)

The most notable challenges mentioned had to do with staff turnover, teachers suddenly resigning, and management of partner organizations changing hands. This impacted the work significantly.

Its no surprise that your advice for others mirrors the successes you have experienced. Many of you mentioned that the principals were used as a helpful guide to continually direct conversations organize activities and target fundraising to your program. “The principals and our rubric helped us focus on the pathway to achieve our desired outcomes,” shared by learning community members from Cam Sunset. You suggested forming a team of committed individuals who will champion your arts education program, and taking small steps together, with that guidepost in mind. (see posts from SBMF Lincoln County, CAM Sunset, Three Rivers IVAC)

Although you felt that the principals and rubric are a good starting point, you also recommended that the teachers and artists solicit student input on the front end and include student reflection in every arts experience. By focusing on open-ended provocations and being open to change, you can support students in telling a story that is reflective of their individual experiences and creates a culture of trust. In fact, you felt that strong partnerships and relationships (with youth, artists, arts education organizations) are what was able to help you move forward and continue to evolve. (see posts from Hollywood Open Meadow, Fishtrap Joseph)

We couldn’t have been happier to read that, “S2S has been instrumental in deepening the investment, commitment, and dedication to transforming our schools and community into an arts-based place,” shared by the learning community members from Sisters.

We encourage you to read and respond to each other’s posts, to learn from one another, to mentor those around you who are not as far along as you may be in mastering various principals. Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness – as always, we are impressed by your insights and progress.