Last Tuesday, March 13th, Right Brain held its annual Spring Colloquium event celebrating arts integration with teachers and teaching artists from across our eight districts. This year, we were thrilled that RACC offered to have all of our departments attend the morning’s “Fishbowl” session to experience our work in action.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event, and special thanks to our own Michele Graham for sharing the following reflection with us:
As a finance team member for Regional Arts & Culture Council I am not usually immersed in arts integration or education. It was an honor to join the “fishbowl” portion of The Right Brain Initiative Spring Colloquium where I observed the transformative work involved to prepare teachers and students to be collaborative, creative learners. This experience confirmed that in order to see the world in its complexity, it is a good idea to step out of our bubble and reflect on our practice.
The Right Brain Initiative provides schools with arts integration strategies. This sounds like a good approach, but what does this mean in practice? The “fishbowl” portion of the Spring Colloquium offered a meaningful dive into that process. In the “fishbowl” a Right Brain kindergarten teacher and principal reflected on their first year of arts integration. Both teacher and principal stressed that a classroom is not in a vacuum, but is part of a larger ecosystem. Our schools face a multitude of challenges. Schools are part of communities that struggle with social and economic issues. Children bring their restlessness, emotions, trauma, issues, and biases. In order to create a space for learning, teachers and students need to find fresh strategies and discover the many ways to arrive at an answer. Sometimes teachers need to incorporate time for kids to wiggle things out, to use movement and their bodies to learn letters or concepts. In a lesson for learning the letter “B” sound, I was most struck when kindergarten student, Jane, said, “Sometimes I make the shape of the basket together with Peyton, sometimes I want to do it alone.” This type of reflection provides ownership of her learning process. These strategies can then be used outside the classroom and applied to the world at large. Using arts to teach other subjects helps students become better communicators, better observers, and better thinkers.
Classrooms are enmeshed in the ecosystem of our communities. Schools and learning communities foster relationships that empower all to learn and innovate. Our classrooms face constraints such as funding, maintenance, and increasing class sizes. These complex problems require complex solutions. We need whole-brained, creative, and innovative thinkers to solve them. We need to support The Right Brain Initiative in their mission to transform schools into places where all children can become lifelong learners and innovators.
-Michele Graham, General Ledger Specialist, Regional Arts & Culture Council