I do not think I truly understood what leadership was and what it meant to me until this summer when I took on a new job working for Artist’s Working in Education, Inc. I was hired as the Lead Artist/Teacher for the summer Truck Studio program, which brings a brightly painted mini-van stocked with art supplies to different parks across Milwaukee. When the van pulls up in the park, the kids flock to the truck because it is a free, drop-in, art program for children to create fun, imaginative, and stimulating projects taught by artists and art educators. With little teaching experience, I was nervous to step into this new job position. However, with a love for children, art, and education I knew I had to take the chance because an opportunity like this does not come often.
Now, our six-week program in the parks has come to a close and the summer flew by before my eyes. Within these six short weeks, I have never been so mentally, physically and emotionally stimulated and exhausted. Throughout the summer, my Truck Studio saw over 800 kids, averaging about 60 kids per day. I quickly learned that my job in the parks was not only to feed the children artistically, but I also saw that many kids needed to physically be fed because they would come to the park hungry and perhaps not having access to adequate food. Thanks to the Hunger Task Force food truck, which provided free meals for the children in the park everyday, the children were able to eat, which then helped them feel better and more focused on their art work with positive and more patient attitudes.
I saw new parts of Milwaukee that I had never seen before and I visited new neighborhoods that I did not know existed. I have never advocated more for art in education than I did this summer. I never once turned a child away because we were running low on supplies or we were maxing out on capacity for how many children we could serve. I welcomed everyone and told them to bring their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins and friends. I made a goal at the beginning of the summer to have the highest attendance that Artist’s Working in Education has ever seen and I can proudly say that our Truck 2 Studio achieved that goal.
I am so fortunate to have had this job this summer so that I could give children the gift of art making when many of them have limited experiences with art. I have been forever changed by this job because I have seen first hand how art affects children. I would encourage all artists, art educators, and lovers of art and education to seek an organization like this in their own community. If none such exists, I would encourage people to find what leadership means to them and take a stand for art education. I am young and only beginning my career, but I have seen how art education changes children’s lives for the better. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see a child and their artwork.
Art advocacy is important to me because of the variety of skills art allows children to practice and the increased amounts of cuts happening around Wisconsin to art programs in schools. The art classroom is the place where a child gets to practice thinking in a different way. The ability to develop creative solutions is so important for children. They need this skill to be successful in life. I am an advocate for art education because I want the youth of Wisconsin to have the opportunity to think outside the box and question the status quo!
In order to be an advocate for art education programs, I try to create connections with other art educators and artists locally and at the state level. I think it is important to create connections myself in order to create new opportunities for learning and awareness about art education.
Aside from my work as a Student Representative for WAEA, I am the Co-President of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee NAEA Student Chapter. We are currently organizing an event for new art teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools. Creating events to bring teachers together is a great way to make connections, share ideas, and get out new teacher jitters!
One success I experienced in my advocacy for art education was giving a presentation on using iPads in the art classroom at a WAEA Conference. While working toward my BFA in Painting at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, I spent a lot of time creating observational “paintings” on my iPad. I used this experience to share possible apps, lessons, and artists teachers could use in the art room with iPads and other tablets. I was so nervous to talk to experienced teachers, since I am so new to teaching, but most of the teachers had tablets in their own classrooms and were excited to hear about new ways to use them! I think this experience really proves that simply sharing our ideas and experiences is one of the best ways to be an advocate for our programs.
In the state of Wisconsin, the edTPA is a high stakes,
performance-based, pre-service teacher, summative assessment to be used by all
teacher preparations programs in 2015. The measurement aligns with state and
national standards including the Common Core and the Interstate Teacher
Assessment and Support Consortium and asks prospective teachers to demonstrate
the knowledge and skills required to enable students to learn in classroom
settings, including the art classroom, via video documentation, artifact
collection, and written reflection. Specifically, the examination will be used
to test teacher candidates’ knowledge of planning, instructing, and assessing
and requires them to submit artifacts and reflective commentaries as evidence
of how well they performed these tasks. Artifacts include lesson plans,
instructional and assessment materials, video clips, and work samples and
commentaries describe the artifacts submitted, with an analysis and reflection
on their use to deepen students’ learning in the certification area. Evidence
submitted will be graded by an external committee using rubrics that analyze
five dimensions, including planning, instruction, assessment, analysis of
teaching, and academic language.
Recently the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee had a
professional development workshop on the edTPA for cooperating teachers. Those
of us working in higher education know more about the edTPA and its
implementation in Wisconsin than those in preK-12 settings since we have been
in the process of negotiating the examination in preparation for its adoption
by the state. Although we have criticisms of the examination, including the
perception that teaching is a neutral set of knowledge constructs, dynamics,
and procedures divorced from the environments and socio-political structures in
which it takes place, we felt it was important to share what we have learned as
we move forward towards an universal pilot this year. Furthermore, cooperating
teachers are stakeholders and leaders in the promotion of art education and
needed to know about the examination’s pros and cons. We also came to the
realization our teacher candidates need the help of their cooperating teachers
to prepare and take the examination. Cooperating art teachers have an expertise
meant to be shared through guidance. The workshop was mostly informational in
nature, sharing a knowledge base, conceptual understandings of each task, and
guidance on how to help teacher candidates construct and reflect on the learning
segment. We also gave examples of educational organizations that were for and
against the examination and why and encouraged cooperating teachers to advocate
their points of view. And lastly, we opened up a discussion on how cooperating
teachers could help us further, beyond our initial thoughts.
At UWM, we have an eighteen-week placement for student teachers
during their field experience, nine in elementary and nine in secondary. We have
chosen to do the edTPA in their first nine-week placement because if teacher
candidates need remediation or fail, they can retake the examination during
their second nine-week placement. We have also asked that teacher candidates do
their edTPA on the secondary level, because art classes meet daily on this level
and thus teacher candidates are better able to collect data in relation to their
experiences within their placement environments. Cooperating teachers can
support our teacher candidates in a number of ways when it comes to curriculum
materials and instructional strategies, but cannot offer alternative responses
to commentary prompts or make leading comments in relation to edTPA drafts or
final version, cannot suggest changes on edTPA drafts or final versions, and
cannot use edTPA rubrics to provide formal feedback or score candidates. We
broke the workshop down into four sections, reflecting the examination. The
first was on creating a context for learning. Cooperating teachers can help
a) Become familiar with school and classroom resources, policies, practices, and
b) List special features of the school or classroom setting that will affect the
teaching of the learning segment (3-5 lessons);
c) Describe any district, school or cooperating teacher requirements or expectations that
might affect the teacher candidate’s planning or delivery of instruction, such
as required curricula, pacing plan, use of specific instructional strategies, or
standardized tests; and
d) Consider the variety of learners in a class who may require different strategies/supports
or accommodations/modifications to instruction or assessment. This includes
learners with documented needs for accommodations.
The second part was on planning, designing and reflecting on a
series of sequenced lessons (learning segment/unit plan)
based on the National Standards and the edTPA objectives (form/structure,
art production, art context, personal) and which can be carried through from
beginning to end showing continuity among learning experiences and formative and
summative assessment strategies. We recommended lesson planning that is
constructivist in nature, engaging students’ previous knowledge, with scaffolded
activities that move from the simple to the more complex and content that has a
central focus and the four types of learning objectives; language demands
(academic vocabulary, functions, discourse, and syntax); scaffolded transitions
between lessons; engagement with students’ characteristics, development, assets,
prior learning, prerequisite skills, and dispositions; planned supports and
adaptations for diverse learners; and assessment strategies. Cooperating
teachers can help by:
a) Advising teacher candidates on the selection of artists who can be used to build on
previous knowledge and keep students engaged;
b) Asking open-ended or probing questions that encourage teacher candidates to reflect on
the planning artifact in reference to their classrooms, leaving it up to teacher
candidates to make selections and adaptations based on their knowledge of
students’ strengths and needs and on the content to be
The third part was on instruction. Our candidates will be
teaching for approximately nine weeks at the secondary developmental levels
where their learning segment must be taught in one classroom, documented via
video recoding (20 minutes maximum with one or two segments), analyzed, and
reflected upon. Recorded instruction must demonstrate rapport, respect, and
responsiveness; a central focus that connects to student assets and concepts and
contexts; language demands, and essential strategies for responding and
producing, with the requisite skills needed. Cooperating teachers can help by:
a) Arranging logistical support for video recording candidates;
b) Allowing teacher candidates to practice their instruction by performing all the duties
with a trial class one week before implementing it with the sample
c) Identifying three focus students with varying abilities,
including one with documented special needs, so the teacher candidate can
utilize and demonstrate a variety of learning strategies that support diverse
learners during recording; and
d) Discussing ways that the teacher candidate can improve their
teaching competence in supporting or challenging learners after observing their
trial and sample class and by using the three focus students selected and rubric
constructs. Leading comments aimed at helping the candidate pass the edTPA are
The last part was on assessment. Using the three focus students
and the whole class, teacher candidates must document patterns and differences
in learning in relation to objectives and language use, provide written and
verbal feedback to learners using rubrics that chronicle individual strengths
and needs, create strategies that allow learners to apply feedback, and reflect
on the next steps needed after analyzing student learning. An additional
five-minute video can be used to demonstrate language use by learners.
Cooperating teachers can help by:
a) Having teacher candidates consistently document learning through formative and
summative assessment strategies such as written responses to artworks, completed
handouts, proposal writing and planning notes for project ideas, preparatory
sketches for project ideas, documentation of levels of elaboration on final
projects using rubrics, video clip of oral responses where language demands are
demonstrated, etc.; and
b) Asking open-ended and probing questions that encourage teacher candidates to reflect on
how their objectives have been met and how they can guide deeper understanding
of concepts and skills, improvements in student performances, and extensions in
learning among the three focus students and whole class.
Secondary Division Representative
I have always had a hard time with advocacy. I am one of those people who do not like to impose my beliefs on others, for the most part. I do however, feel that schools need strong art programs to balance learning, make our students into upstanding, well-rounded individuals and prepare them for the ever-changing world.
Some school districts have strong, well-developed art programs with plenty of teachers and support from the administration, parents, and community. These districts might have a well-known arts following or the teacher in that district has been there for years and has developed the art program and has plenty of connections. In the school districts I have been in, and I think there are a lot of you out there in this same boat, there is more emphasis on programs such as sports or technology (which are important) and teaching to “core” subjects.
How do you bring more emphasis for your program into your district and keep it there? In my experience, you have to keep plugging away, communicating in positive ways and using all the resources you can get your hands on. The one resource that everyone likely has access to is the school newsletter. Another resource is the community newspaper, if you are lucky enough to have one. In the community I teach in, we have a community art club that is quite involved and is always trying to keep the arts at the forefront of importance.
What about sources to keep you going and keep art in schools? Websites, YouTube, blogs, facebook, and twitter?—Yes, yes, yes and yes to all and everything you have time for. I may be preaching to the choir here and you may already use all these avenues to help keep your art program going.
A majority of us are stretched to the brim already in our daily work—preparing, contacting, sharing, teacher effectiveness and other duties as assigned. We are all so busy that it is hard to keep up with all of it. Taking time to convince people to believe in you is hard because other things take precedence. Most of us start our year excited, wanting to bring our new ideas into the classroom and let everyone know we are ready to go. What are you going to do to keep that energy and enthusiasm going?
An effective way to advocate is to be positive. The projects I do, the contacts I make, the extra duties I do, the work I display—always smile and talk it up. I have no room for complaining or being negative.
Here are some resources I use when advocating for or working to enhance my art program: www.incredibleart.org. , www.theartofed.com , www.arteducators.org/advocacy, www.americansforthearts.org., www.kennedy-center.org. My favorite resource is incredibleart.org. Under the advocacy tab there is a list of statistics I am going to post in my classroom or in some other strategic location. My other favorite is theartofed.com. They have relevant professional development opportunities for teachers and tips about everything. Jessica Balsley is the founder and she was an art teacher herself. She spoke at our fall conference last year and she was very inspiring. She has a list of accessible things to do throughout the year to advocate for your program. She also talks about advocating without feeling like you are asking for the world and getting what you want without negativity.
I would really like to hear from any of you about what you do for advocacy or how you might be struggling with advocacy in your school and community. I am excited to be starting a blog in the near future and I am thinking about an art idea/lesson exchange for the start of the school year. If you have anything you would like to talk about right now, contact me at email@example.com. I would love to chat.
Middle Level Rep
Advocacy and leadership in the field of education and more specifically, art education, is very important. As almost all of you are painfully aware, education has come under a sort of attack in the past few years. We are either not doing our job well enough in the eyes of some or education budgets are being dismantled to pay for other things considered to be more important by politicians. As a result, as educators we must advocate and educate the population around us about the wonderful things that we are doing for the students we teach and the communities we teach in.
One way to advocate for your art program is to get involved with your community arts initiatives or conduct exhibits and shows of student artwork in the community. In Black River Falls, we hold student art exhibits in the public library. It is a beautiful space with a large gallery like room that is open to visitors without having to enter the library space. There are also independent businesses that are open to displaying student artwork as a means to generate traffic. You can also hold a fine arts night to help promote all the arts in your school. Have the band and choir put on a concert, display student artwork in the halls, and have your technology education folks participate by showing the woodworking or welding crafts produced and created by students. You could also have your family and consumer education teacher display things created by students in those classes. This brings a wide range of parents into the building to look, listen, and learn about all the wonderful things happening in the arts in your school.
I have also been blessed to have an organization of women in town that are extremely supportive of visual arts, music, and language arts. Each year they conduct competitions in the three subject areas and award students with certificates and cash prizes for excellence in those subject areas. It would be worth your time to contact some different organizations in your community to find out if they would consider sponsoring such activities and competitions in your school. By taking the initiative to start some of these kinds of things in your schools and communities you will be taking on a leadership role advocating for your own art program.