Summary of Arts Integration Project
High Quality Professional Development
Visual Thinking Strategies
Habits of the Mind
Researchers have found that sustained partnerships and professional development opportunities allow teachers to become comfortable making natural connections in the curriculum and turning routine activities into deep knowledge for learners (Werner & Freeman, 2001). The benefits of collaborative relationships contribute to increased teacher satisfaction, interest, and success while leading to the development of a sense of community of practice in the school (Deasy & Stevenson, 2005). Researchers report that teachers are more willing to take risks, both in their curriculum planning and in front of their students. They are innovative in their teaching, willing to experiment, persevere in integrating the arts despite barriers, and approach their classes in a more child-centered rather than adult-centered manner (Werner & Freeman, 2001) and decreased isolation from peers (Landel & Ohana, 2006).
In the proposed project, learning communities will be created at each school. A professional community of teachers will come together to reflect upon and improve their teaching practice. This structure has been effective to enhance teachers’ effectiveness, create a sense of responsibility for students’ success, increase teachers’ satisfaction and morale, contribute to a greater likelihood of systemic change, and impact student achievement (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006). This project employs a school-based coaching approach where EMU faculty work with small groups of teachers to improve classroom practice, as recommended by Tomlinson, Brimijoin, and Narvaez (2008). To build a professional learning community, teachers in small groups will meet weekly with EMU elementary or middle school literacy, technology faculty, as well as art-integration and math methods instructors. They will learn, plan, and reflect on their teaching and students’ learning, with a special focus on looking at student work (Arts Education Partnership, 2005).
Use of art-integration instructors who provide coaching and modeling for teachers has been shown to be more effective than occasional discrete professional development activities to enable teachers to adopt what they have learned (Saraniero & Goldberg, 2011). Recent school improvement research has revealed that high quality professional development conducted within a professional community of learning teams is linked closely to improvements in student achievement in reading and math (Bryk, 2010).