Principal Reports: Phase 2 of the Listening Campaign
Alameda USD Principals
What makes a child want to go to school everyday?
· Friends and fun - recess
· Everybody knows his name – feels welcome, challenged and encouraged to express his thinking – wants to understand the world and feels useful to know what his role is
· Like to be challenged, exposed to new ideas, pushed, form new ideas and opinions- students often struggle when they are not challenged
· To be seen, understood, and celebrated – positive and nurturing relationships between adults on campus and children
· That what they are learning matters in their life and is important
· To experience success
· Useful struggle that leads to achieving something and gaining self-esteem from it
· Kids like to rise up and have great pride in doing something that they didn’t think they were capable of
What inspires creativity?
· Choice – learning and working in a dynamic environment where all ideas are accepted
· A problem you care about and an opportunity to play
· Variety, choice – exposing them to options – allows them to tap into their interests
· Starts with feeling safe, supported, able to take risks
· Teachers finding a hook for student – letting them explore form there
· An open-ended freedom to express oneself in multiple ways – to do and express oneself
· To present children with a problem – finding solutions – real challenges
What can schools do better to inspire creativity?
· Understand the power of creativity – release control
· As world gets more complicated we feel the need to shelter – our kids are not less fragile than we are – if they didn’t get it right, that is ok – they are better for it
· Fostering a culture of inquiry – there is not right or wrong –socratic method
· Within an academic schedule – space and time for voice and exploration
· Students need opportunity to make their own meaning out of something
· We have to give the professionals permission to take that leap of freedom – to give up control – to feel safe and also meet the demands of the curriculum – opportunities to be inspired within the framework of all they have to do
· The confidence for themselves (teachers) – they feel responsible for the kids in their classroom – want to confident
· Decorate the school top to bottom – bring in visiting artists – allow teachers to model creative practice
What is the role of arts education in young peoples’ lives?
· Has been a part of every culture – a common thread all over the world
· Arts in my family is a carrot – children thrive – they have to work really hard for them to look forward to the choices – responsibility coupled with the performing arts – ‘restorative summer’
· Art should be integrated through all disciplines – taps into the whole child
· Half a brain is a terrible thing to waste
· Provides students a confidence and opportunity to see voice in a way they may not have imagined it – for some students in school they can’t approach the academics – the academics are more of a challenge – they can give voice to something artistic
· Makes it universal
· Art is fun and the arts are an outlet for inner reflection as well as expression – for deeper thinking about what is going on and the subject – brings about new thinking and perspectives
How are arts already integrated into schools?
· We still offer ton of electives – art docent program – drama, shop, band, orchestra, full art program – electives are a true draw for my school – students get that choice – the first time they get to choose what they get to do
· At the high school level – gives students the opportunity to give back to the community – beautify with murals, dance, drama/plays – empowers them to use their creative side to show the community what the community means to them
· When they are younger they are performing for parents/classmates – at secondary creates communal bonds
· Career tech classes – multimedia/filmmaking/radio
How do you define arts – what do you think of when I say ‘the arts?’
· Opportunity to contribute back to community in any way – sierra club, creative writing, spoken word, change the world politically, views of gender – empowering the students to use creative minds to reshape our mindsets
· A ‘hook’ – an inspiration or catalyst to learning instead of a product
· ‘A man’s heart is reflective of what they see’
· A passion – what you are passionate about is an art form – teaching can be an art form
· Possibility - possibilitarian
· The arts and elements of UDL – expressing themselves in many different ways – you go to the arts to make it rich for the kids
· Oftentimes elementary art is linked as ‘add on’ – not all students have access to reader’s theater – we do have standards that relate to VAPA, but those standards in reference to elementary school – you wouldn’t see it in all levels – you see afterschool programs such as dance. Generally we see ‘you’re going to do some art because it is spring, or illustrate a book as an add on’ But not something ‘I do because this is how I express myself.’
Is there a huge gap between general education and arts or can they relate?
· Some teachers are great at integration – but we need to push ourselves to go beyond those cookie cutter crafts
· How do you take a project and make it visible and make others connect to what you want to share
· Think about a project my son did with soccer tennis shoes – now they will be creating the model shoe – this is above and beyond – took a simple science project into a creative project that makes it appealing, beautiful and self-motivated
· There is a skills piece to this that helps to inspire confidence – particularly in ES when art happens is usually integrated in and the person may or may not have expertise. At the Secondary level we have credentialed arts teacher. There is a set of skills that develop if you want to really express yourself well. Forms of expression have skills behind them that can be taught to improve them. There has to be a balance between a sequential way to gain access to skills and a way to use them in a free or content context.
· That is why you get many examples of projects with creation.
· Example of project about drawing a horse was taken out because nobody had the skills to teach that. I was one of those teachers who ran around looking for projects. We haven’t given our teachers any PD on how to do art.
· When you go into K and ask who is an artist, they all raise their hands, by 3rd grade no one does. How do we get to the place where at 3rd grade they still see themselves as creative. And the growth mindset.
· In a culture of high tech, we need high touch – our need for connection increases, our need for empathy – there is a false feeling that technology can provide that – our soul, our beings need connection. The arts are the way.
· Had a lovely artists in resonance – had kids drawing with the left hand – experimenting with what our hands can do- and when we think about the cookie cutter art – there is a project where everyone is supposed to ‘get to.’
· You can only take so much risk when it is limited.
· And when you say ‘we’ve got 45 minutes and then we’re done with art’
· A student recently told me ‘I don’t do patterns, I’m an artist.’
How are schools preparing schools for adulthood?
· We focus so much on giving them core skills- but we are also trying hard to connect kids to real world work (CTE classes)
· Phrase ‘piece by piece.’ There are pieces we give students and we have to be focused and intentional on how we apply that to real life. What helps put that meaning all together? What is that thread for a child?
· I tell my parents every back to school night that I hope their students come here and fail a class, get caught cheating, etc… and I tell them that because I hope it can happen here where they can learn resilience and learn – I credit my ES and MS colleagues for the foundation. Our primary challenge is to challenge. I see kids all the time where they are not going to be the valedictorian but they are going to be OK – they have the mindset, the resilience.
· All schools stress sharing, working together, collaboration. Schools have come a long way since I was there.
· We don’t see them – how do we judge success?
· If the point of what we’re doing is not HOW to, but where do go, examples of. I don’t know how to pay for college – it is a different world now. When kids come back to me and tell me I’m 72K in debt. There are things that we don’t know. I tell students in HS that YOU know more about so many things than I do. I don’t know how to navigate. I can help pose questions to them and tell them ‘I stepped in that hold’ and help them avoid.
· Certain people come into issues when they get out of high school – how to write a check. It would have been helpful.
· I was told what to do – a student taught me about online bill-pay. I had my phone turned off several times in my 20s before I finally learned. I was given the wherewithal and the permission to be a knucklehead.
· Particularly some students have gone to college and dropped out because of particular skill sets. At some places All of their students go to college ,but they don’t finish – the softer skills.
· They shelter us in the wrong areas and give us information in the wrong areas
· Brings this back to an equity issue in our state – 70% of our black/latino students are not 4-year eligible. Where do we embed life skills
· Some students don’t have a plan – As a district the families that entrusted us for 12 years- how do our students develop a plan
How can arts prepare students for a better future?
· Arts are fundamentally Common Core – I don’t see how you can do CC without arts
· Creative solutions for the world’s problems need creative problem solvers
· Arts is a great way to look at a wider view of the world
· They get a unique view of themselves through art that they might not have otherwise seen
· Art is a powerful weapon – Moonlight, Angels in America – there is a movie coming out about Tupac’s life – his power of the word really shaped the world we live in now – to the point where someone was threatened enough to take his life – that is what art’s power is – I am always impressed and force myself to look and listen at things – I am hoping that I can change my limited view