This may ramble a little - just need to get some thoughts out...
For a leadership class I am currently enrolled in, I am to assess the environment I hope to change. Right now, I am in the middle of doing some reading and developing a survey. This is not easy. I feel like I have one chance to do this initial assessment well. Survey Monkey is the avenue I think I will take in terms of the platform for the assessment. I'm hoping that is the most user friendly for my colleagues. The questions are in arts integration and I plan to survey ALL teachers: classroom, arts, special ed and specialists.
My ultimate goal has been and continues to be focused on the teachers - what they need to develop their craft and feel comfortable in the arts as they teach. The long term goal is to reach out to teachers and to implement some sort of teacher-friendly program/professional development opportunities to do this. Something that is accessible, meaningful and, most importantly practical to the teachers.
I know that so many teachers see the value in arts education and integration, but the pressures being put on us is immense and it is hard to stray away from the basics. However, I believe that there is a way. There are places in our country who have seen such success in arts integration. It is my hope to shed light on this and to help empower teachers who want to integrate TO integrate.
I've been taking small, what I thought were unrelated steps, but the momentum has kicked in in the past few months. With the beginning of The Inspired Classroom's online social network http://the-inspired-classroom.socialgo.com , many teachers have found a place to chat on various arts infused topics in education as well as find a community of like-minded educators.
We also started TEACHER FIELD TRIPS where teacher get together to do various cultural and arts infused activities. (The first one, going dancing, was such FUN!)
I continue to present at conferences and teach workshops in arts and music integration. This is a topic that teachers are into and once they hear the possibilities, they are convinced that there is a place for it in their classrooms!
There are many other possibilities with this too: Professional Learning Communities centered around arts integration, additional publications, community involvement and outreach, the use of artists in residence.
This is truly beginning to take shape and become something more than I anticipated 10 years ago when I started to write down the first sentences of what became my book on my once new computer.
My final note before I finish - "WE" I need a we in this now. I cannot do this alone. I am quickly realizing that the potential to this work is much greater than I am and in order to continue I need the ideas, support and community that other educators and interested persons can bring to the table.
And so, this fall has brought on a new beginning to Yeogirl Press and The Inspired Classroom. It is exciting, stimulating, overwhelming and nerve racking all at once. I guess that's a good sign of what is to come!