I feel this is where we’re at…….
The “snowball” we are creating together is getting bigger. It’s taking shape and as we move it along as a team, it is gaining momentum.
However, I get the impression that for some in the group, they may be feeling more like this:
I wonder if they fully understand the project, IE; they are ‘playing in the snow’, but it’s all moving a little too fast and they are getting ‘caught up’ in something bigger, quicker than they had anticipated.
SLOW DOWN! …but don’t let the snowball start to melt!
As leaders this is something we have taken note of. This is when individual conversations need to be had, emails written, and encouragement made. We cannot over communicate with each other. We need to give and make opportunities for each teacher and artist to ask questions. No question is to silly. We are asking everyone to take a risk and for some it is a bigger step out of their comfort zone and into something new. For some, asking in front of a large group may be intimidating and this is when conversation between facilitators and the lead teacher need to be encouraged. Consequently, I have set up a closed group on Facebook as another ‘space’ to communicate and address misconceptions or understanding. We want everyone to feel confident to take part in the adventure – not overwhelmed by trepidation. (I anticipate that we will see this reflected in journals throughout the journey of the project).
Training Day 3 was an excellent session of putting things in perspective. Handbooks had been made and distributed to each teacher and artist. We went through this together, and each stage of the project was clearly disseminated. The timeline was reviewed and time was given for teachers and artists to plan together.
We looked at the creative process and the importance of recognizing this as a journey, and at time, artists and teachers may view it from different perspectives. We do all look at the end before we start. We consider how we’re going to get there, the process involved and what it will look like along the way.
The journey is made up of PREPARATION, ILLUMINATION, IMPLEMENTATION & EVALUATION.
Tony led us in an activity which reinforced these stages of development.
- 5 mins sit in silence and reflect on our first experience of school. (Think of WATER – let the memories and thoughts flow).
- 5 mins to reflect and share these with each other. (Think of AIR – the freedom to share).
- 5 mins to create and show a dramatic representation to link these ideas/memories together (Think of EARTH – grounding of the thoughts, feelings, memories and actions).
- We then reflected on this session – what we’d felt at each stage, how the one helped the next, and the value of each part of the process).
We had the opportunity to reflect on Training Day 1 and used my sketch-note as the impetus to jog our memories of what was discussed. We particularly made reference to the vocabulary training from Lauren and the 5 phases of vocabulary development. Our hypothesis for this project is that the arts will help to embed vocabulary in long term memory and through the experiential learning of vocabulary, children will gain greater comprehension of meaning and etymology. Similarly, by giving all children the opportunity to participate in arts based learning, we start to see a shift in social and cultural capital; Eroding social disadvantage through the arts.
We spent time looking at the reflective journals which will be a valuable part of the evaluation process throughout the project. The ‘blob tree’ will be used for all to describe their feelings along the journey, whilst a journal entry for sessions with the artists will give opportunity to reflect on
- Situation: What actually happened?
- Effect: What was the impact?
- Interpretation: What did I learn from the experience?
- Decision: What will I do to improve my teaching next time?
“The ultimate aim of the project is to create a sustainable, durable legacy of arts education that impacts on learning outcomes for pupils experiencing disadvantage.” Active Learning in and through the Arts – Evaluation Handbook.