We all were looking forward to the day we would take a field trip to Captiol Hill to meet Senator Tim Kaine. The morning started with reviews of the protocols used when meeting with representatives. The room was filled with nervous and excited energy.
As a group we all headed to the metro via a George Mason shuttle bus then tried to keep our group of 50 teachers together along with our fearless guides. I admit there were a few bumps, bruises, lost cards, and delays but we all got to the train station for lunch. Our lunch vouchers gave us a grand selection of options and I went straight for the crepes, yum.
The time came to have our group start the half mile walk over to the Capitol Building. It was my first time visiting and hope to go back again to further explore the art, sculptures and architecture there. Once through security we were in the Visitors Building and made our way to the appointment desk for our badges, we were there on "official business"!
The room was a perfect size for our group and we were able to take photos by academy group as Senator Kaine walked in to speak. I am looking forward to seeing the photos taken by the photographer of our groups.
Senator Kaine was a wonderfully charismatic speaker and has strong connections to the arts which he spoke to previously in an article "Lessons learned from 40 School Years." He took about five questions from our group of fifty teachers. I was thrilled to have him listen to my question regarding Immigration Reform and the impact on our schools when acclimatising the ELL (English Language Learners) and their families into our communities. Kaine was very knowledgeable about Harrisonburg Schools and our high number of ELL students. and was very complementary what a great job the school system has done to help the new families coming into our community. My hope is the concern will keep the impact in the minds of the government as they make plans for reform considering the issues facing our country with immigration.
The final question spoke to the support for the arts and of course our crowd of teachers were thrilled with his positive response. Our moments seemed to fly by with the senator but I enjoyed every minute. I wish my great grandfather, who was a Congressman could have seen me standing up for my concerns.
After our visit at the Capitol we were set free to dash to the museums. We rushed through the National Gallery with fuel from a gelato with espresso before the guards yelled us out the door when they closed at five. Running through the rain we made it to see the gardens near the Smithsonian castle and ended our tour at the American History Museum. Any moment surrounded by masters and cultural pieces proves to be inspirational. Though our visits were short my mind is swirling with ideas to take back and incorporate into new lesson plans for this fall! Watch out SKMS we are going to become time travelers through history!
I have the wonderful opportunity this week to work with Dr. Kimberly Sheridan a professor and one of the authors of Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. The conversation for Studio Thinking, Teaching for Artistic Behaviors (TAB), or Choice education in the art room has been growing in the arts community for quite some time. The book is helping to solidify many of my beliefs in how I teach and ways to vocalize the importance of teaching art.
My classroom is very close to the studio atmosphere and has included a gradual transformation of how I think and approach lessons. Reflecting on my most successful lessons the concepts of Studio Thinking or Habits of Mind connections can be made.
Part of our discussions questioned how time is spent in the art room. Seeing data that broke down time into segments was interesting to contemplate how we use our allotted time into categories of student work time, demo/lecture, critique, or exhibition time. Many administrators come to observe demo/lecture time when in reality the great learning may blossom in the interactions between teacher and student during studio time. The moments when a teacher can walk around the room and visually assess the progress students are making, redirect when needed, and encourage students to boldly continue forward in their efforts can be meaningful in student growth/understanding. I am contemplating how I can best evaluate class time to make the most of our 47 minutes of learning in the Capitol of Creativity next year.
How do you assess your use of time?
Thanks to the brilliant leaders in Richmond and the staff at George Mason University I am spending the week in the most intense, meaningful, and motivational professional development opportunity of my career.
What is VCET? Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching is held for six days on the George Mason campus and continues in the fall. Educators have traveled from all over the state of Virginia to join forces to learn how to become stronger Teacher Leaders. The Academies focus on a different areas:
The #artsed Academy started Sunday night with a wonderful dinner and fast tour of the campus. We all got settled into our dorm rooms with anticipation for Monday morning! (Yes, we teachers never stop learning!)
Monday morning we met our fearless leaders who will be guiding us on this journey : Dr. Kimberly Sheridan and Robert Stansbery.
The day started with a visual metaphor for teaching by Andy Goldsworthy.
Words bounced quickly around the room with educators relating their practice to the powerful image before us. The Portal to Learning:
"How can arts be a powerful entry into thinking?"
"What is the core of my own #artsed beliefs?"
My own beliefs have been evolving over the last few years with the rapid changes happening in our world. The addition of new technology and ways to help bring artistic behaviors in my classroom have me looking to the horizon. My focus is turned to the outward searching, looking beyond the building blocks that may seem familiar toward the framework that will guide me in the year ahead. In the months ahead I am looking forward to this process of finding a clear vision of my VCET project and the powerful changes that Teacher Leadership can help build.
I would love to hear how you might interpret the sculpture as a metaphor for your teaching?