Blogs & Online Sources: MAEIA Leadership Fellows
Cathy DePentu: Career-long Learning
I have been in school for 58 of my 63 years. Granted, I’ve switched roles a few times and moved back and forth from the front of the room to behind a desk (...
I have been in school for 58 of my 63 years. Granted, I’ve switched roles a few times and moved back and forth from the front of the room to behind a desk (or music stand), but still, the end of August is a turning point of each year. Even after all these years, I still toss and turn the night before school starts wondering what the year will bring. Much of my excitement is the same as when I was in elementary school: Who will I see the first day? What adventures we will share about summer? Will the people I work with be kind? Will they like me?
Every year, I am privileged to share my passion for music and music-making with a new group of students. We work together and learn from each other. Even though only a few of these students will choose the Arts as a career, I know that the thought processes and learning strategies involved in the performing arts classroom will benefit them all throughout their life.
We learn patience, collaboration, cooperation and persistence. When we fail, we try again. We value each others contributions and celebrate our differences. We are accepting and welcoming; our classrooms are safe spaces. Of course we will encounter obstacles to success–perhaps budget, administrative or legislative. While we may not be able to control the situation, we CAN control of how we choose to respond to it.
I say “we learn” because after all of these years, I truly feel once the unique process of teaching and learning through the Arts is shared, we are all both students and teachers.
Being willing to adapt and continue to learn while I teach keeps me from teaching the same year, over and over again…and so every year can be exciting and fresh.
Have a great year everyone, and remember that MAEIA is just a click away!
On that note, we’d like to invite MAEIA-informed community members to join the Facebook closed group: MAEIA PLC. Look for us under “groups”. Request to join and share in professional dialogue with like-minds about MAEIA and arts education.
Cathy DePentu is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and serves as Director of Orchestras for Plymouth Canton Community Schools.
A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: CathyDePentu_Career-long Learning.
Amy Lynne Pobanz: The Perfect Place to Teach and Learn
I dream about it. The perfect place to teach and learn. A district that celebrates the arts. I fantasize about amazing arts facilities and resources for my students. I long to feel valued and supported...
I dream about it. The perfect place to teach and learn. A district that celebrates the arts. I fantasize about amazing arts facilities and resources for my students. I long to feel valued and supported as a teacher. I am a bit jealous when I visit a school district that has an amazing gallery space, a well outfitted recording studio, an orchestra, a black box theatre, or a dance studio. If you are an arts educator, chances are you can relate. Too many of us teach in underfunded programs with meager facilities and resources. It’s easy to complain about all of the challenges that face us as arts educators. Believe me, I am guilty of my fair share of complaining. I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn that venting my frustrations did not help to improve the arts in my district or community.
I found myself with a choice. I could either complain or I could be an agent for change. I asked myself this question, “What actions could I take that would positively change the landscape of arts education in my school district and community?” At first it felt like a loaded question and a daunting task. I wasn’t even sure where to begin. Could I even articulate my vision for a perfect place to teach and learn in the arts?
Don’t feel overwhelmed. I began by using MAEIA (Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment Project) tools. MAEIA resources are free for your use and have been designed to support your work advancing arts education in your schools and communities. You can always reach out to MAEIA personnel and request additional support.
I have come to value the word- “place.” It is a powerful word. “Cultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals. Places said to have a strong “sense of place” have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors.” Consider the impact of place as you envision your perfect place to teach and learn. Here are some steps that may guide your journey.
Step 1. Assemble
Assemble a team of people who are passionate about the arts in your school and community. Be inclusive; invite all arts teachers, invite students, invite parents, invite administrators, invite community organizations, invite community leaders. I believe collaboration is an essential component to any great endeavor.
Step 2. Envision
Read and reflect on the Michigan Blueprint of a Quality Arts Education Program tool (see link below). Have dialog as a group about your greatest dreams and vision for your district arts program. Imagine what could be.
Michigan Blueprint of a Quality Arts Education Program—a goal-setting document for arts education program and school improvement purposes. The Blueprint describes the highest standards of successful arts education programs in dance, music, theatre and visual arts along seven criteria that are aligned with the Michigan School Improvement Framework.
Step 3. Reflect
Complete the program review tool (see link below). This tool collects data that can be used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your current arts program. This is a wonderful process that provides insight into your program and promotes healthy dialog about program improvement. I cannot stress the importance of this tool. This process empowers arts educators to have conversations with administrators and school boards about the quality of their arts program. Arts educators can make statements that are supported by data from a State funded arts assessment tool. Share your findings with colleagues, administrators, and the school board.
Note: The PRT tool is moving from paper and pencil to a web-based assessment tool. Please contact the MAEIA administrative team before beginning the PRT process to see if your team is able to use the web-based version.
Step 4. Develop
Develop a District Arts Plan. Communicate the vision of your arts team with all stakeholders. Ask to meet several times a year with your school board members and present annually to the school board. Here is a link to my favorite reference resource for developing an arts plan. http://www.artsed411.org/files/Complete_Insiders_Guide_2017_Updated_Cover.pdf
Step 5. Connect
Connect with other arts educators and be involved in arts education and advocacy in Michigan. Meet artists, take classes, go to performances, create.
Amy Lynne Pobanz is a visual arts educator and MAEIA Leadership Fellow with over 20 years of experience teaching in traditional, virtual, and blended learning environments.
A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: Pobanz_ThePerfectPlacetoTeachandLearn.
Cathy DePentu: Developing Whole, Productive, Creative Humans
Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” resonates with many arts educators. The concept “Start with...
Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” resonates with many arts educators. The concept “Start with Why?” is how we approach every project, every rehearsal and every performance. Starting with the reason, or goal for the performance is an “art-centric” learning and teaching process. Surprisingly, when I returned to school last fall, my district had shifted their focus to the “Why” from our previous data-driven, test-focused, “show me the numbers” improvement plan. We were directed to look for unique, creative ways to engage our classes—to “Start with Why?” Wow.
My first thought was that the district should go to the people who have been teaching this way for years…the arts educators. Perhaps WE could be a resource to assist all teachers as they begin to think about a new approach to how they work in their classroom. Our ability to keep classes of 60-80 (or more) students engaged, collaborative, focused and learning every day could be a valuable addition to those endless professional development days…
Recently, I went to the interactive Pixar exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum. I went with a friend who teaches science, and it was fascinating to see things from her perspective. Obviously, Pixar films are made using the most advanced computer technology, and the programmers are experts in math and science. As we walked through the exhibit, I was struck by how our subject areas were linked in virtually every step of the creation of the movies! The exhibit featured videos of many of the programmers and technicians responsible for creating the characters and the storylines. I was very surprised (and pleased) at what I heard from many of the videos.
Virtually all of the programmers saw their work as using their math and science as a way to honor the artist’s vision of the characters. One of the programmers had played the cello as a student, and cited using the process of practicing—doing things over and over again, using self-analysis and a willingness to fail and continue to try, as being characteristics that are exceedingly valuable to him now in his work.
The collaboration between the technicians, programmers and artists was so inspiring. I was impressed by the collective desire to use technology to honor an artist’s vision. I hope that my fellow teachers will unite to value every subject and its importance in the development of whole, productive, creative humans.
Cathy Depentu is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and serves as Director of Orchestras for Plymouth Canton Community Schools.
A downloadable pdf of this post is available here: Cathy DePentu_Developing Whole, Productive, Creative Humans.
Thank you, MCACA!
We are grateful for the support of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for 2017-2018! Earlier this summer, MAEIA Leadership Fellows Holly Olszewski, wrote a blog...
We are grateful for the support of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for 2017-2018!
Earlier this summer, MAEIA Leadership Fellows Holly Olszewski, wrote a blog a post about MCACA.
Here is an excerpt:
“Far too many projects in the arts have the lights ‘turned out’ because they lack the funding to continue. Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs council meeting and hear the wonderful ways in which this government agency is keeping the lights on for many projects throughout our fair state. It was fitting that the council meeting took place in the Carnegie Library Building (1903) in downtown Traverse City under this beautiful lighting fixture, giving light and symbolizing a tradition of quality.”
More about MCACA from Holly’s post:
“The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) is a council made up of 15 individuals appointed by the governor. It is the state government’s lead agency charged with developing arts policy as well as grant making. The Council works to fulfill its mission by serving as champions, advocates and a point of connection and coordination for the field with legislative, corporate and other leaders with an interest in seeing the mission of MCACA fulfilled.”
We are fortunate to have the support from MCACA to fulfill our own mission of advancing creativity in education.
MAEIA in 2017-2018
Here are the MAEIA initiatives we are working on during 2017-18. How will you be joining us? MAEIA Professional Learning...
Here are the MAEIA initiatives we are working on during 2017-18. How will you be joining us?
MAEIA Professional Learning Community
- Increasing visibility of MAEIA and providing further support for Michigan education professionals through Professional Learning and Communication Strategies.
Follow us on Facebook @MAEIAartsednetwork.org and Twitter @MAEIAartsednet.
Want to write about your MAEIA experience or topics in the field of education? Contact Heather Vaughan-Southard at email@example.com to learn more.
MAEIA Leadership Fellows and Associates
A cadre of education professionals offering virtual and face-to-face presentations on the MAEIA tools and resources hosted by leaders in Professional Communities such as State Organizations, Arts Organizations, Districts in underserved areas, and with Teaching Artists.
Interested in learning more? Contact Ana Luisa Cardona at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Heather Vaughan-Southard at email@example.com.
Collaborative Scoring System Pilot
An program in which we explore a platform and process for uploading student work to be scored by colleagues.
Are you a Visual Art or Music Educator interested in participating? Contact Jason O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program Review Tool Pilot
The exploration of a web-based version of the MAEIA Program Review Tool.
Interested in learning more? Contact Karrie LaFave at Assistant@michiganassessmentconsortium.org.
MAEIA Re-Ignite 2018
- Annual gathering for MAEIA Founding Contributors, Key Communicators, Leadership Fellows, Associates, Partners, and Project Management Team scheduled for August 7, 2018.
Tammi Browning: The Arts Prepare Students to Reach Their Potential
Reading mission statements of school districts all over America, I find a universal educational purpose they seek to attain: To equip students with the skills necessary to reach their maximum potential in becoming self-sufficient, contributing...
Reading mission statements of school districts all over America, I find a universal educational purpose they seek to attain: To equip students with the skills necessary to reach their maximum potential in becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of a global society.
Depending upon the characteristics of the community in which the school district lies, the experiences provided to students to accomplish these goals can differ greatly. Such experiences must be organized effectively to match the social characteristics within the community it serves. Coupled with this, the influence of an educator’s own learning experiences can sometimes influence their view of diversity in the classroom. The advantages of such diversity can inadvertently be overlooked when creating a meaningful curriculum.
Educators must be cognizant of these factors in order to utilize the resources they have in a way that will help prepare students for a world where opportunities for success require the ability to compete and cooperate on a global scale.
To combat these challenges, educational leaders must provide an environment where teachers work as a collaborative professional learning community; where they are allowed to think outside of the box to create valuable connections with the world that enrich the lives of their students.
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book entitled, Schooling by Design, describe transfer of learning as the practice of “…learning the (self) discipline that permits prior learning to be effectively activated and used in new meaningful situations” (p.48). Heidi Hayes Jacobs (2010), in her book entitled Curriculum 21, has compiled articles written by experts in the field of education. In chapter 13, Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick describe learning processes they refer to as “Habits of Mind”. Habits of Mind are “…dispositions or attitudes that reflect the necessary skillful behaviors that students will need to practice as they become more thoughtful in their learning and in their lives” (p.212). They list 16 vital habits they have identified to be the most important to possess to be successful in school, work, and life. The majority of the vital habits involve reflection. Therefore, when students understand that prior knowledge obtained can be used to solve more complex problems and helps in the analysis of new situations encountered throughout their life; they have developed an understanding of transfer of learning and created habits of mind.
I believe that transfer of learning and key habits of mind are taught effectively through classes such as auto shop, wood shop, the arts, and home economics. Transfer of knowledge is the base of these hands-on, kinesthetic classes. As art teachers, we naturally promote transfer of learning and habits of mind through supervising student work on drama production sets, marching band props, homecoming activities, and painting murals in the building. We are conscious of cross-curricular, discipline-based art education that involves communication with other teachers and forming units consisting of projects that involve concepts being taught in their classrooms.
We provide students with real-life challenges, to which they must analyze and solve problems using mathematical reasoning and writing skills by communicating and working together in group collaboration. The arts, by nature, provide rich authentic experiences. Through creating a curriculum rich with exciting real-life experiences, we contribute to helping to solve today’s challenges.
Are you guiding reflection in your arts discipline? Search the MAEIA assessment items with key words. Or start here:
This post was originally published in the MAEA spring newsletter and appears here with permission by the author.
Wiggins, Grant and McTighe, Jay (2007). Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Hayes Jacobs, Heidi (2010). Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Cheryl Poole: Watching as They Assembled the MAEIA Tools
Cheryl L. Poole is an educator with more than 40 years of experience in visual arts, museum administration and facilitating professional learning. She has had the pleasure of working with educators in the MAEIA...
Cheryl L. Poole is an educator with more than 40 years of experience in visual arts, museum administration and facilitating professional learning. She has had the pleasure of working with educators in the MAEIA project over the last 5 years.
Watching as They Assembled the MAEIA Tools
Sometimes you don’t what tools you need until you start the work.
In 2012, I had recently retired from an ISD position when a friend enticed me to give just a ‘bit of time’ to a new project being directed by the Michigan Assessment Consortium. It was the very beginning of the Michigan Arts Education, Instruction, and Assessment project. Ultimately, working for MAEIA became the most satisfying experience of my 40+ year career in arts and education.
I met with the early leadership team in late fall to acquire a description of the project I was thinking about joining. Over the subsequent five years, I’ve reflected on that initial description of the project…and the evolving dialogue. Although that early leadership team was describing for me the goal of the MAEIA project, they were also clarifying and elaborating on it for themselves. What I heard that day anchored my understanding of the project and has been the context of my work with MAEIA since then.
It started with a rumor. While, personally, I was in the meaning-making stage of joining this project, I was also watching four great minds with diverse areas of expertise (three of whom I knew by reputation and admired a great deal), grappling with important ideas. They had come together over a concern about a rumor circulating among Michigan educators and legislators.
The rumor was that legislation might come to pass that would force teacher evaluation to be based on student achievement data. These leaders were passionate about arts education and they were aware of the absence of formal, quality assessments that would provide the achievement data for educators in dance, music, theatre and visual arts.
If the rumor came true and law required educators to be evaluated on student assessment data, what would that mean for educators in the arts?
The worry around the table was that arts teachers would be evaluated on reading or math test data.
They all held that that would be wholly unfair. There was clearly a need for legitimate data of student performance in the arts.
As the conversation evolved that day, I observed what I interpreted as their growing realization that the project would have to be a great deal more comprehensive than appropriate assessments in the arts:
-Evaluating a student would also need to be understood in the context of the dance, music, theatre and visual arts program to which they had access.
-Arts assessments would have to be created with the assumption of a quality, articulated K-12 arts education program.
-What about the many configurations of arts programs within districts?
The questions that needed to be answered were:
-What was a quality program?
-What did it look like?
-What criteria defined a quality arts education program?
-Who decided that?
-Based on what research?
Aha! The plot thickened because then the conversation came around to how to measure quality for each a dance education program. A music education program. Theatre education program. Visual arts education program.
The research had to be compiled first for each discipline and a tool for measuring programs had to be developed. Only then could performance assessments in the arts exist within an understandable context. And an understandable context was necessary before a teacher could select appropriate assessments and subsequently be evaluated on the resulting data.
So as I sat at the table that first day, making meaning of the MAEIA project, I heard the project expanding in real time.
Starting with the environmental need and the goal, the importance of developing tools became clear. To get to quality performance assessments, MAEIA would first have to define a quality program and have an ability to quantify and measure that quality.
Yet to unfold was the realization that, as we stepped forward and backwards toward the goal, MAEIA-involved educators would also need a compilation of research, to identify specifications for creating assessments, and guidelines for administering them.
We recognized, as a group, that collectively we didn’t have that expertise to achieve the task. Hundreds of educators, artists and researchers representing all four arts disciplines would need to bring forward what they knew to assemble the tools of MAEIA. And they did.
Five years later, measuring educator effectiveness with student data was realized under PA 173 of 2015, over a thousand educators have contributed to what has become the MAEIA tools and resources: a Blueprint, Assessment Specifications Document, Research and Recommendations, a Program Review Tool, and 360 Assessment Items in Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.
With support from the MCACA, fifteen MAEIA Leadership Fellows are prepared to deliver professional learning to districts, buildings, and community partners with an invitation for additional Associates to be extended soon.
The MAEIA Project Management Team along with dedicated participants, have just wrapped a Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness pilot with plans to continue the work into a second year while we also launch a Collaborative Scoring System pilot.