Arts in Education Week: Program Communication

We wanted to celebrate National Arts in Education Week by offering ways to improve art program communication among colleagues, students, and the school community. In any classroom, communication is always an important ingredient for achieving success. But when we stop to think about the many people that we come into contact with each school year, what are we really communicating about our art program?

Ways Art Programs Can Communicate :

Colleagues, Fellow Teachers

  • Work as a team. When you have a student acting up in class, talk to his other teachers. Find out if his behavior is happening other places or perhaps there are family issues or peer conflict. It is amazing how much you can learn about a student in 20 seconds. Work together to develop a strategy together to empower everyone.
  • Seek teacher input when connecting to the classroom curriculum. Often it will help you create a deeper level of learning in your own cross curricular lessons.
  • Don’t expect other teachers to read your mind. If you have a procedure or system that involves other teachers then keep the lines of communication open. Create an art room newsletter for your colleagues.

Parents

  • Artsonia is a fantastic communication tool. Create project descriptions as a way to communicate your learning objectives to all artwork visitors. Let the parents, friends, and relatives hear about the art concepts that they have discovered. Share the creative process and celebrate success. This fall, Artsonia will be adding a teacher newsletter feature. You can even customize specific grade-level parents to receive the e-newsletter. If you’re new to Artsonia, see these tips and tutorial on getting started.
  • Start a blog, Facebook Fan page, website or Twitter feed. Many upper level teachers use these tools with their students, but they are also useful for parent communication. Here is how a Facebook page is used to communicate with parents. Need help getting started then check out this post on How to Create a Facebook Group for Your Classes.

Students

  • Take a moment to acknowledge individual student work and accomplishments. Mail a postcard or send a note home with an individualized message letting a student know what a great job they did or that you noticed how hard they‘ve been working.
  • Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. We have all types of learners in our classroom – teach your concepts or classroom procedures in a way everyone can understand. Write your procedures in multiple places in the room, say the directions out loud and then have the students retell the direction to someone else in the room, and get up and move.

Community

  • People wont know what is going on in your classroom unless you tell them. So you say you don’t like to toot your own horn? Get over it . . . now. Your program is too important to be humble. Take pictures of interesting activities and send them in to the local newspaper with a description. If your picture is good, they will use it.
  • Create public art for your community and with your students. Art teacher Ian Sands from Apex, North Carolina works with his high school students to create fantastic community art exhibits.

Know Your Administrators

  • The fist line of administration we need to work with is our building principals. They hold the keys to scheduling, building budgets, space allocation, teacher evaluations and more. Your principal can be your biggest advocate in many situations. Help your principal out by contributing to your building community.
  • Sign up for committee work. There is often committees that focus on whole building or issues such as safety, staff development or technology. Be active in new building initiatives that reach beyond the art room like Peaceful Playgrounds. Volunteer for some of the miscellaneous projects that pop up from time to time such as signs, posters or creating that paw print stencil to mark where kids should stop at the crosswalk. Helping others will build good karma that comes right back to you.
  • Get to know the upper administrative team in your district. Introduce yourself at the end of an Institute day. Join a committee that works at the district level. Invite them to art events at your school. They love to see what the kids are doing and escape the office. It also gives them a chance to see your program in action.

In a time when budgets are tight and every program is under scrutiny how we communicate is more important then ever. Be an advocate for your art program.

This post is a part of Craig Roland’s Synchronized Blogging Event celebrating Arts in Education Week! [Synchronized blogging is "where a group of bloggers agree to post on their own blogs on the same broad topic on the same day" (Wikipedia)]

Read more from our other fantastic synchronized bloggers about how to celebrate National Arts in Education Week:

The Art Teacher’s Guide to the Internet

Wonder Brooks Extraordinaire

Mrs. Gillespie’s Blog

The Carrot Revolution

Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1998 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa presented at the 2008 Illinois Art Education Association Conference on Art Classroom Management and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.

1 Comment

  • September 13, 2010

    John Abodeely

    This is brilliant! Thanks for your leadership and your contribution to the best our arts teaching workforce can be. Americans for the Arts is a great resource for making change in education–outside of instruction, that is. Their blog on arts ed is especially helpful: http://blog.artsusa.org/category/arts-education. Of course, the Kennedy Center’s got tons of useful tools for teachers too: http://www.ArtsEdge.org. Thanks, again!

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