This fall, we launched a Regional Coach Pilot Program (RCPP) across our statewide network of schools, through partnerships with a group of local institutions with experience providing arts integration training or artist residency programs in public schools. The RCPP gives us an opportunity to work with local partners to align coaching, arts integration, and artist residency resources to target school-identified goals for growth. The RCPP also contributes to our long-term sustainability plan by developing regional support networks around Turnaround Arts: California schools that have the potential to grow deep roots.
Over the next year, we’ll introduce you to some of our regional coaches and the work they are engaged with in our schools. First up is an interview with Alex Richardson, who represents the Sunset Center in Carmel as a Regional Coach at two schools in Monterey County: King Elementary in Seaside and Mary Chapa Academy in Greenfield.
By Cathryn Deering
What is VTS?
This year at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School (FloJo), we have decided that the school-wide, arts-based strategy we’re implementing will be Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). VTS is a method that teachers can use to lead inquiry-based discussions around different art images.
In this process, students are asked to look carefully at a work of art without knowing the name of the image or the artist. They discuss their observations and give evidence from the image to support their observations. In using the three VTS questions, teachers are able to facilitate thought-provoking conversations in a neutral way that promotes critical thinking and creative problem solving.
Last month, approximately 70 representatives from our 16 California partner schools attended the annual Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat at Airlie, a historic conference destination in Virginia, about an hour away from Washington, D.C.
This weeklong retreat was a chance to orient our new school teams to the pillars of our program, create space for collaboration among new/veteran participants and presenters, and connect deeply with the dedicated team of “Turnarounders” from across the nation championing our collective mission to transform priority schools through the strategic use of the arts.
On May 25, 2016, nine students from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School (King) in Compton, CA, confidently took the stage and performed at the Turnaround Arts Talent Show, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House! Their powerful spoken word piece, “Flight,” was aptly titled, as many of the student performers had never been on an airplane before — it also spoke symbolically to the ways in which King’s entire school community has soared since becoming a Turnaround Arts: California partner school in 2014.
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.