Hey there, friend. It’s Susan Riley from the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM and the Artworks for Teachers podcast. And today, friend, it’s just you and me. And in the summer months, which is when I’m recording this, I’m recording this at the end of June, beginning of July, this is usually a time of rest, reflection for teachers, but for administrators, you’re often in a very busy time of planning for professional development for the year, for your vision and mission for the year where you want your school to be headed, and how to make those things a reality. And if you are a teacher leader, you are probably kind of in the middle, right? So if you’re a part of the curriculum writing team, or if you are a team leader or a department head, you’re getting some rest and relaxation, I hope, this summer, but also you’re also working with administration on planning those things.
And so this episode is all about how to implement an arts integration initiative or program in your school or a district. Now, here’s the reason I’m doing this. Quite honestly, I have been having this conversation many, many times over the last few weeks. I could probably do this in my sleep at this point. It’s usually the time of year, this happens every year, where schools or districts reach out and they ask, hey, can I pick your brain for a minute? Or we have an arts integration effort and here’s what’s been going on, but we’ve kind of stalled out and so we would really love to hear where we could go next. And so I thought this would just be a great episode that if you need this, if you’re out there and you need this, here’s an episode. You can come back to it, you can listen to it, no matter where you are in the process.
We’re going to have a resource that breaks it down for you so that you could print that off and just come on back to this episode if you need. If you’re also in that new stage of planning, this is also going to inspire you to be thinking ahead so that you can avoid some of the costly mistakes that others will make along the way. So I’m excited for this episode. Lots of times when people come to us and what we’ve found over the years at the Institute,
They’re a little nervous. They’re like, oh, we’ve done work with the Kennedy Center, or we’ve done work with A plus schools, or we’ve done work with Arts Now, and we know that you’re a competitor. And here’s the thing. I mean, I think if you talked to the Kennedy Center or Arts Now or A plus schools, I don’t think that any of us think that we’re competitors. We support one another. That’s what’s great about the arts education community. We all know that we offer something different for schools when it comes to arts integration. And so it’s really collaborative and it’s not really hush hush. And so I know from our point of view, that’s how we establish it. We always believe that we’re better together. It’s one of our core values. And knowing some folks over at each of those organizations, I would venture to say that they all agree. But that’s not to say that each of these of our organizations don’t offer schools and implementation something different.
And so what we’ve come to know as the Institute is that many places will come to us after they’ve started with the Kennedy Center or Arts Now or A plus schools or another organization who is giving them beginning strategies to go to with arts integration. And that is a wonderful place to start. I actually recommend that people begin there and that is step one, right? Is to start with teaching art strategies. And that’s what those other organizations do really, really well. They give you strategies that are excellent at being able to kind of spark different areas of the brain and see immediate success with arts integrated strategies right from the get go. So I highly encourage you that if that’s where you’re beginning, you are in exactly the right space. And if you haven’t begun yet,
I would recommend either those organizations, you can certainly come to our site, we have lots of beginning places as well, but I’m going to always recommend that schools, that districts, when you’re beginning an Arts Integration Initiative, you start with strategies. It’s so important and I’m going to get into why in just a second. But before that, I want to back up a minute. Before we can even begin with any of that, I’m going to recommend to you that you download our Arts Integration Continuum card.
We will include it in the show notes as a link so that you can download it. And then give this to your staff, whoever it is that you’re working with, and have people self-identify where they fall on the continuum in general terms. And so what’s gonna happen with that is that you’ll realize that some people in your school or your district may already have some experience with arts integration, and some that you think you might have background in it they may not and so they may be at the enhancement stage and it’s important to know where your people fall on this continuum because how can you plan a an implementation plan or professional development for your adult learners if you don’t know what their background is or what their previous experience has been so before you even start in a plan for implementing I’m going to suggest to you give them the Arts Integration Continuum card so that everyone has a basic understanding of what Arts Integration is, and then the stages along the continuum of arts enhancement, theme-based learning, inquiry-based learning, co-teaching, and then arts integration, so that they can see what have we already been doing or what am I familiar with and where am I not familiar? That’s valuable data to gather. So that’s your warmup, right? Now, as I said,
Step one though in your implementation plan is going to be starting with teaching arts strategies because they get you a quick win. And that’s what you need in terms of getting an effort off the ground. You’ve got to get some buy-in. And the easiest way for you to get some buy-in is to start with some arts strategies. And the reason I say that is because these are, they’re not complicated. There’s something that everyone could do. They’re not intimidating their frameworks that teachers could embed very quickly in their classroom. In fact, you could teach it to them during a lunch hour PD and they could go back to their next class and immediately do these strategies. And so when they do that, the proof is in the pudding, right? And so they can have, they can put these strategies in place. They can have a quick win with their students. They can see that their students are engaging in a different way.
And it immediately starts the teacher brain going, ooh, this might be something, right? That gives you some buy-in. Now, I know that a lot of schools, this is where you start. And honestly, I think you need a year in this space. Unless you have people in your school that have done arts integration before, you have an arts integration coach established, you’ve got partnerships, unless you’ve got all of that rocking and ready to go.
I’m going to recommend that you slow down a little bit. Administrators are always worried about overwhelming our teachers. The quickest way to overwhelm them is to introduce them some strategies at the beginning of the year and then the second half of the year say, let’s move into some lesson planning. That is going to stress them out. You’ve got to give them time to implement. So give them some art strategies, music strategies, theater, and dance. Give them maybe two to three strategies in each of those areas. Why do it in each of those areas? Why not just start in one? Because everybody has a different access point, right? Some people really enjoy visual art. Some people really enjoy music. Some people really identify with dance and they need to move. And some people really love theater. And so just like our students’ access points, so do our teachers. There are areas where they are more comfortable than others, so providing them with two, maybe three strategies in each of the Arts areas gives them the opportunity to choose one of them that is in their comfort zone, okay, to get started with. And so this is where if you’re partnering with a group like Kennedy Center or the Arts Now team or A-plus schools or any of the other any given child, any of the variety of support networks, teaching artists, this is a great opportunity in year one to establish these strategies. And I’m gonna give you an example of two visual arts strategies that are simple to use, See Think Wonder and I-Note is cubed. And both of those are on our site that you can look and we’ll put those in the show notes. But like for example, See Think Wonder.
You could take a look at an illustration in a science textbook or take a look at a mathematical equation that has been transformed into art, which many artists actually do. You could take a look at a piece of Kandinsky work of art for math and look at angles in particular. You could listen to a piece of music, transform this from see-think-wonder to hear-think-wonder, and use this strategy in a variety of locations.
If you’re using See Think Wonder, if you’re not familiar with it, you start with what do you see? So you’re identifying things on the tangible level, very, very specific. So I see the color red, I see a baseball cap, I see wrinkles, I see, you know, very specific. Students are gonna wanna jump to, for example, I see an old man. Well, how do you know that? That’s the question that you ask. How do you know that? Because he has wrinkles. So you see a man and you see someone with wrinkles. So you’ve made the assumption that it is an old man, right? But what you’re asking for is what do you see? So they have to identify very specifically those items. And then once you’ve established that, then you ask what do you think? What are some, what are you thinking about this image? What are you thinking about this piece of music? What comes to mind here? Where, where do you think we are? What do you think is the theme here?
There are lots of things that they could ponder about what they think about what they’re looking at. And then what do you wonder are now that we’ve established these things that we’ve really taken our time and observing, what are some questions that you have in mind, right? So it might be what medium did they use in terms of is it a photograph? Is it animation? What did they, what medium did they use to create it?
Why did they create it in this way? What were they trying to communicate? What are they maybe trying to say in this image? So that is a strategy, that is a visual thinking strategy, see, think, wonder, that you could put into place in any classroom, right? It would be really easy to teach that at lunch and then have them put it into place in the next class period. So you’re looking for strategies like that in each of the arts areas to share with teachers in year one and have them start using. Now here is the pitfall that I see a lot of districts fall into. They give the strategies or they have organizations come in and share these strategies throughout the year and there’s no game plan in terms of understanding how many people are actually using them and implementing them because there’s no data collection.
So I’m going to encourage you in step one in the strategies that you’re sharing with staff to get them excited and engaged. Offer them a reflection sheet. Very short, very simple. And it’s anonymous. Nobody puts their names on it because that way you’ll get more data. And it’s not really important who’s doing it at this point. It’s just to know how many of my staff are actually doing this. So anytime they use a strategy, ask them to fill out the reflection card.
And the reflection card should be simple. What strategy did you use? Just have them write it down. What date did you do it? What class did you use it with? Like, was it your English class? Was it social studies? Whatever it was. And then, how did you find that it went? And they can write long, short, whatever they want for that. So they might go, that was great. Or my students really struggle with this, I don’t know that I’ll try this one again, right?
Fill out a reflection card and then have a drop box for it that they can just anonymously put it in there at any given time. And you’re collecting those throughout the year. What’s important here is to know how many, like how many and how often. Right? So our most of the staff using this are and how often are we using? Is it only right after we get these strategies presented or is it happening throughout the year? That’s the kind of data you’re looking for, but at least it lets you know many people are using it and if they are, you might want to include a column in there, have I used the strategies before? Yes or no. So that way you know repeaters, right? Like if somebody is consistently using, you’re getting a lot from one person that you can kind of spread those out and see. But I think it’s important for you to understand, you know, how many people, if we’re teaching this, how many people are actually using it. And when teachers know that this is an expectation they’re more willing to do that and document it. And the best way for them to know that this is an expectation is to ask them to complete a reflection form after they’ve implemented a strategy, right? So that helps you and it helps them. It also helps them to know this is not a one-off event. This is not just filler PD. This is something that we’re actually moving towards. So that’s year one, okay?
By the end of year one, you should then be able to move to step two, which is to find your pilot group. So these are people who raise their hand and say, I love this. I want to learn more. I want to go deeper. I know that means that it’s going to be a little bit extra time for me, that I’m going to need to maybe think a little bit more in here and that there’s going to be more asked of me, but I really like this and I want to do that you should be able to then create a pilot group from those people. It will be a very small group of people because nobody really wants extra work. But if they have real success with these strategies, I guarantee you, you’re going to have a small group of very passionate people who are like, yes, I, me, I want to learn more about that. So that’s your two, my friends, in that pilot group, you’re working with them on how to then go from strategies into actual arts integration lessons. And this is gonna take a little bit of additional PD. And this is where we start to step outside of just coming in with some strategies or a teaching artist and actually moving into some implementation. And so you’re gonna wanna provide that pilot group with some PD, some very specific PD on how to find standards alignments. What does a quality arts integration lesson look like?
How do we build those things? How do we collaborate? What do assessments look like in terms of arts integration? Have them work together on that PD while everyone else in the building is still just using those strategies, okay? I’m gonna come back to everybody else in the building in a minute for year two. So, but in that pilot group, you’re also maybe giving them opportunities to go see what arts integration looks like in another building or if you can’t find another building close by, someplace online that they could see it in action, you’re gonna ask them to start to try to pull together a lesson themselves. So your goal here is maybe one to two lessons for the year that they work on together, collaborate on, create, and then implement in their classroom.
When they implement in their classroom, they’re gonna ask the other pilot group members to come in and watch and maybe give some feedback and share and learn from one another. This is very low key. There is no data necessarily being tracked here. There’s no, the feedback that’s happening between the peers, that’s not being sent to administration at all. This is not about scoring some way around arts integration. It is very organic and it is meant to be something that they’re learning together. The only data that you’re really looking to collect is how many lessons did you create this year? How many did you put in place in your classroom? And did you get feedback from someone else? That’s it, right? But from that, your teachers, your pilot group teachers, they’re gonna start to take a look at
Okay, I did this arts integration lesson. Here’s how it went. I thought it was really successful Here’s how my students did on their next assessment around that topic, right? They’re not looking at like very specific data, but they might be looking at you know, so and so Johnny was really struggling in that concept But he did really well on his assessment after we did this lesson. That’s a win That’s a documented win and that’s what we want to look at when we’re looking at data so when we’re looking at year two data, we’re looking for tangible wins that happen after implementing an arts integration lesson. And again, that is only happening in that pilot group because that pilot group is receiving some extra support, some extra PB, their PB is evolving throughout the year so that as they’re working on each component, they’re getting a different piece of PD.
And because they bought in at the beginning, they want to do that. They want to learn about that. So this is where someplace like the accelerator, our membership program, that’s where something like that is really helpful for that pilot group because they have some sample lessons they could use right away that they wouldn’t even need to create. There are workshops that teach them how to do those standards alignments and how to find those assessments and how to create those.
There’s a lot of resources in the accelerator that’s meant to help that pilot group out. And then as an administrator, you’re just there guiding them in that, answering questions, listening to feedback, trying to support them in terms of coverage if you need sub coverage, those kinds of things. Now, what’s happening with everybody else in year two? Year two, they’re still using the arts strategies, but you have put in a caveat that they have to have used those strategies at least four times in a year. So at least once a quarter, everyone is using an art strategy. And if they can you can push themselves to a different strategy than they used the year before, that’s bonus points, right? So you are actually keeping track of how many people are actually are submitting those strategies that use those strategies at least four times a year so that they have a goal. Okay, more practice, we’re putting this into place. Four times a year is not so bad, right? That I’m being held accountable for it. But if I can weave that into my instruction even more, that’s even better. So that’s what you’re doing with year two with everyone else. They’re still getting these strategies, they’re still using them, but now you’re holding them accountable to using them a certain amount of time in year two.
Now, at that point, at the end of year two, you’re gonna look at the data from the pilot group. You’re gonna look at how did their written data come in terms of, remember that they were documenting that this student did really well and that I wasn’t expecting and I’m seeing an increase here and in terms of student engagement and staying on task and I’m seeing less classroom disruptions and I’m seeing more students who are wanting to come to class, whatever it is that they were documenting you’re gonna go over that with the pilot group and look at some trends. Did everyone start to see some improvement in these areas? Did everyone start to see that classroom disruptions were lowered? Because when you do that, you can identify one to two key areas that you wanna focus on for the third year, which is when we start to bring everyone else into the fold. By year three,
We’re using pilot groups data to inform a whole school expansion. So pilots, now there could be a subset here. If you’re worried that whole school after year two is too much, you could do a group of teachers from each grade level. If you’re in elementary or middle, or one teacher from each department in high school for year three and then year four be whole school if you need that step in between, right? But for most schools, I’m gonna tell you by year three, the rest of your school is ready. And here’s why, your pilot group is not quiet. They are not gonna be a quiet group of people in year two. They’re gonna be telling their peers, even the ones who are not in that pilot group, what’s going on. And everybody’s gonna get a little curious.
And because everybody else is gonna be accountable for implementing strategies, they know what’s coming. So by year three, you can start into a whole school expansion. Now that doesn’t mean that everybody’s using arts integration lessons every day and where everybody’s on board the train tracks here. By whole school expansion, remember, we’re using that pilot group’s data. So maybe we’re just looking to decrease classroom disruptions this year and maybe focus on our math data for year three, right? And everyone is gonna be asked to do two arts integration lessons. Now, everybody else hasn’t had all that PD, right? So they’ve been working in strategies. So how do we involve that? Well, that’s where year-long evolving PD for the whole school comes into place. This is when we usually encourage, if you’ve been using the accelerator with your pilot group, bring the accelerator out and start using it with the rest of your team, with the rest of your staff, so that they have those same resources that your pilot group did. But when you’re asking them to do two arts integration lessons, have them as a team just look at the lessons in the accelerator and say, these are the two lessons that we wanna try, and have them pull them out, and have your pilot group be models for the PD throughout the year. So your pilot group’s had experience now, right?
So they can answer questions. They can talk about common pitfalls that they experienced. They can share, here’s an area of the accelerator that you should focus in, and some of this is gonna be overwhelming to you. Don’t look at that just yet. They could share some specific strategies that they used within the lesson plans and how to go take one of the strategies that teachers have been using for the last two years and transform it into a lesson.
Those pilot group people are going to be your PD mentors for the whole year, which is great. It puts them into a leadership position. You can also include them as being mentors so that, or classroom models. So if teachers want to go see an arts integration lesson in action, guess what? They don’t have to lead the building anymore. Now they can go and see just a member of the pilot group and watch what that looks like. And then, bring back questions that they have to the next PD session so that they can organically start to understand. And remember, the only thing that you’re asking them to do is implement two arts integrated lessons in year three for everyone. Pilot group people should be at least four. So, because they should be expanding, right? They’re always gonna be a little bit ahead of everyone else. So, but by year three, everyone has done at least two arts integration lessons and they’ve been able to ask questions and get PD throughout the year. By year four, now you’re starting to establish this as a whole school effort. So by year four, everybody’s doing at least one arts integration less than a quarter. They know about that and then they get to start to choose some PD. So what are some areas that I need help in? Is it collaborative planning? Is it assessment design? Is it using assessments? Is it tracking data? Is it back to other arts areas that I’m not as familiar with, you give them some choice in year four in terms of the PD that they need in order to keep going. And then you just continue the cycle year over year as new teachers come on board. So that’s how you build an arts integration initiative over time and how you plan it out so that you can make sure that teachers are not overwhelmed, that they still have choice that they are still engaging in the arts and that they’re getting the PV that they need without feeling like it’s being jammed down their throats. It’s a really effective model. And so I really hope that if you are looking at expanding your arts integration efforts, this is something that you consider. Now I’ve used the accelerator as an example here of how to support your teachers long-term. If you’ve got grant money,
You could also have teaching artists come in at the same time that you have the accelerator. You could invite those other groups back to continue to share additional strategies with your group so that you’re layering the PD. There’s certainly that’s an option as well. I’m a big believer in the accelerator simply because the PD component can be expanded depending on where you are on that continuum at any given time. And it’s also easy to onboard people as others leave.
So I like to have that kind of running in the background so that you constantly have something available for everyone. And so it becomes your natural next step. So I’ve shared that. The other part that I’m sure the rest of my team is gonna be like, you forgot to say this. We also always advocate that you select maybe one or two of those pilot group members after year two to go through Arts Integration Certification. Because then you’re gonna have them become leaders in terms of coaching and supporting your teachers in their Arts Integration efforts, and it doesn’t all have to fall to you as an administrator. So certainly, you could layer that in as well. So I hope that this was helpful for you. It’s very tactile this week. I don’t always do that. Lots of times we do big picture, but sometimes I think the tactical is sometimes even more beneficial. So I hope that was helpful for you this week.
And if you have questions, feel free to reach out to our support desk. It’s email@example.com. And we’re happy to answer anything. I love hearing from our listeners and what questions you have based on what you’ve heard. And don’t forget, I would really appreciate it if this was helpful for you and you found that the Artworks for Teachers podcast is something beneficial to you, I would love it if you’d be able to just give us a review so that other educators can find us and can also bring more creativity into our classrooms and our schools. That’s it for me today, friend. Thank you so much for tuning in and I’ll see you next week.