The Right Brain Initiative

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How it works

At Right Brain, we want creative thinking to be a basic part of every kid’s public education.

We engage in a practice called arts integration, and the four pieces of our work focus on help teachers gain new skills to bring the interdisciplinary learning to their classrooms. Together, we ignite a culture of creativity at our partner schools by moving, playing, discovering and making (we might even add a dance step or two).

See how one teacher learned to make creative sparks fly in her classroom, with help from The Right Brain Initiative in our video: The Right Brain Effect.

Professional development workshops

This is the foundation of our work. Teachers, principals and teaching artists come together to explore new ways of teaching in an extensive three-year sequence of workshops. This learning expands the knowledge bank within a school building and enables collaboration between staff.

Classroom artist residencies

At Right Brain partner schools, all classrooms get knee-deep in arts integration when Right Brain teaching artists visit the school. Teachers, artists and principals sit down together to design an experience that seamlessly combines an artist’s discipline with the school’s curriculum and learning goals. These experiences are delivered collaboratively by the artists and classroom teachers. Residencies bring new art forms to students—like drumming and dance and printmaking—and allow teachers to practice designing an integrated arts unit. Teachers learn skills directly from the dozens of Right Brain teaching artists and arts organizations that they can refine with their students long after the artist has left the classroom.

Coaching

Arts integration coaches work on site during schools’ first three years in the program. Coaches guide the process of planning an artist residency, and after teachers attend our professional development workshops, coaches can help teachers integrate new tools into their classrooms, share ideas and collaborate. We also support principals, whose advocacy for the arts can permeate an entire school building. Principals attend professional development workshops, and they are part of each school’s Right Brain planning team, building an investment in arts integration across the school.

Reflection and Research

Our reflection process helps educators gain insights into student learning through conversations with their colleagues. Coaches facilitate reflections at our partner schools at the end of a Right Brain artist residency. Our annual Spring Colloquium convenes staff from partner schools and Right Brain teaching artists, in an off-site seminar and celebration of arts integration. Using a structured reflection process based on work at Harvard’s Project Zero, educators respond to details they noticed from student work samples and recordings of student interviews. Right Brain staff and stakeholders also commit to ongoing evaluation, both to learn how we can continue to grow the quality of the program, and to validate the important role of the arts in the classroom.