Sometimes you have to slow down to keep your momentum, especially toward the end of the school year when short-term priorities have the potential to distract from long-term goals.
Last month, ECE coaches Ana Rosas (Avenal ES) and Brenda Selva (King ES) explored the topic of sustaining instructional change at the annual conference for the California Association on the Education of Young Children. In the week following the conference, the pair identified several strategies to help their grade-level teams slow down, recharge and refocus.
Gather ’round, everyone. This story begins on an unseasonably warm Wednesday in March. Arts leaders from Avenal, Burbank (Hayward), Fremont-Lopez and Warren Lane gathered at the Fresno County Office of Education for a mid-year Turnaround Arts: California workshop. They laughed, they danced, and they “tableau-ed.” Their objectives: to reflect on arts-based successes at their schools and to plan for continued growth.
School teams began by breaking down their successes using the language of theater. As each group reflected, the room came alive with frozen pictures of after-school dance clubs, whole-school gallery nights, and other arts-based achievements.
When we learned that Wolf Trap would be doing a one-week residency at our school, I was excited because I had participated in several of their workshops in Virginia at the national Turnaround Arts retreat last summer. Finally my colleagues were going to experience what I had been telling them about.
Wolf Trap is a nationally recognized leader in the field of arts education. Its Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts trains teachers through residencies and workshops “to use performing arts techniques to enhance instructional practice and achieve curriculum goals set for young children. The focus is on essential areas such as math, language arts, performing arts fundamentals, critical thinking, and collaboration.”
At Barton, we are working diligently to promote parental involvement in all aspects of a student’s academic career. But involving parents in our informational meetings — such as the School Site Council and the English Learner Advisory Committee — has been a challenge.
We had to think out of the box. We had to give our families dessert before we served them vegetables.
Props … Costumes … Sets … Lighting … Sound … Choreography … Blocking. With all their moving parts, school musicals are no easy feat. So when Burbank Elementary School in San Diego decided to take on its first-ever school production this year, it sought the wisdom and experience of another Turnaround Arts: California partner school — Fremont/Lopez Elementary.
Starting a new school year is always hectic. There are classrooms to set up, student files to review, assessments to complete and lessons to plan. But communicating to students and colleagues how the arts can be used as a vehicle for learning is one of the most important things to do when you are a Turnaround Arts school.
Our wonderful principal, Sandy Wilbanks, gave us the opportunity to do just that during a professional development day. After attending the Turnaround Arts: National Summer Leadership Retreat, we were inspired and excited at her proposition to model an arts-integrated lesson for the school staff.