E-Journal Reflection—Assignment #3
The third e-journal reflection in year 1 represents learning we have experienced through the process of implementing the Studio to School grant. Our most successful accomplishments are listed below, as well as our plans for year 2. We have successfully engaged the school community in a visioning of what this may become in the future. In doing this work with the superintendent, building administrators, teaching artists, 4 core teachers at each school, and community partners we have committed individuals that understand the value of arts and music education and have a shared, collaborative vision. We plan to expand our circle of teachers and implementers in years 2-5.
This post is written by Brad Tisdel project lead, with contributions from core team member Debbie Newport, and Marean Jordan, a retired educator who is part of our larger team.
1. What have we learned about the resources needed for successful implementation?
• We have learned about the importance of having building administrators and our superintendent as strong supporters and active participants in the project. Their advocacy makes clear to teachers and parents that this work is embedded in the fabric of the schools’ culture and programs. They can support scheduling and resource decisions (use of classroom space, etc…) that are essential to the success of S2S. Unfortunately, our superintendent, who has also been a member of the core team, is moving on to another position and the search has begun for a new superintendent. We will need to involve this new leader immediately in the conversation and get her/him on board as quickly as possible.
• Having multiple years of funding and flexibility in making program changes is vital to the success of the project. This allows us to pursue long-term goals for changes in school priorities and teacher practices, and to make adaptations when there are unexpected changes in staffing, school priorities and funding.
• Selecting the right people to get the project off the ground makes all the difference. We are fortunate to have hired a Teaching Artist who brings great skill and experience in working with both children and teachers, and has a vision for an articulated visual arts program. Her success this year has opened the door for art to be added to the instructional wheel next year and thus to be embedded in the instructional program. We also have enthusiastic administrators and a core group of teachers at both the elementary and the middle school who have the potential and vision to be early implementers of arts integration.
2. What are the most impactful ways we used our OCF grant funding in Year One?
• Time for classroom teachers, administrators, and community partners to get together outside the school day and during the summer to build their team, vision together, learn about arts integration, and plan. With all the demands on teachers and instructional leaders during the school day, having time to step back, take a deep breath, reflect, and collaborate is essential.
• A Teaching Artist working at the elementary and an Arts Integration Specialist at the middle school who brought expertise, fresh ideas, and inspiration into teachers’ classes and provided models of integrated lessons and projects. The credibility of these instructors greatly supported our efforts and built a foundation for further implementation.
• Guest artists and musicians who performed at assemblies and worked with students in their classes.
3. How might we apply what we’ve learned in using our funding resources in Year 2?
• Because of the importance of the Teaching Artist in providing articulated art instruction at the elementary school, her monthly hours will be increased through in-kind support from the Sisters Folk Festival in Year 2.
• More funding will be devoted to teachers’ professional development through increased planning time and summer training, and more teachers will be added to the learning community.
• The keyboard lab that was funded for the elementary school in Year 1 will be purchased and placed at the middle school in Year 2 for use in a new general music class. This class will give students the foundation for more specialized music instruction in middle school and high school. This is an effective step in better articulation of music education and will open new opportunities for the music educators and students at the middle school.
• Funding that was earmarked for a second keyboard lab in year 2 will be redirected to a rotating resource of up to 20 iPads, an iMac, and relevant software and apps that will allow students to record and document their work and will make it possible for the Teaching Artist and Arts Integration Specialist to model the use of cutting edge technology in lessons and projects.
• A school-wide art project at the elementary school that will make arts integration visible to the Sisters community.
4. How will anticipated budget changes in year 2 result in different work for our team?
• Time to learn new technology and training in innovative practices in arts and music education.
• Through our visioning process with administrators and teachers, we’ve been successful in collaborating to encourage new programming that will support music and arts education delivery better. In year 2, new programming will be implemented that will have sustainability and bring arts education into an everyday experience for students. It will also support student learning that has sequential elements to programming we currently offer in middle and high school.
• Planning time, demonstration lessons and hands-on experiences in arts integration in professional development sessions will build teachers’ capacity to implement arts integration on their own when desired.
• With the i-pad technology music lab we will begin to fulfill our goal of integrating arts with technology and provide further STEM – STEAM capabilities in programming.
• Continued and varied classroom observation, feedback, and evaluation.