Testimonials

LL: This is like, so amazingly different and better. ‘Cause everything else you go to it’s like a weekend, and you learn a bunch of really cool stuff and you go back to your class and you go, “Oh, my God, now what do I do?”  And if you’re lucky you may incorporate one or two of those things. Well with this PD, it’s here, it’s ongoing, it’s the same artists three years in a row, and we spend weeks with them, we spend hours with them learning from them. It’s just so different you can’t even believe it. I mean, it’s really effective, Super effective.  Especially in a little school like ours, you don’t interact with other teachers. I’ve never interacted with another teacher at my grade level. So not having that, I’m not in a big school where there are lots of other middle school teachers.”

In turn, VM was also in favor of this as professional development.

DB: “…and I was curious as to how teachers were regarding this as professional development. And, um, do you see this as important PD?

VM: Absolutely.  I mean, I think, it’s been for me,. I wouldn’t, I think the word “transformational” would be appropriate. Because it’s just changed so much about how I think about everything. From how I’m structuring the learning process, and my room, how I would structure a curriculum. I mean, basically, I don’t use any canned curriculum now. Do you know what I mean by that? Like purchased off the shelf, developed by somebody else. I just don’t do it, because I find you’re, maybe just as an adjunct maybe to get a certain point across, but… It’s really changed how I think about teaching. How I think about what I’m doing as a teacher, and what that role is, and even what I’m trying to accomplish as a teacher. Because, when you’re bringing in this canned curriculum, it’s like someone else has gone through the thinking process behind it. Why are we even doing this? What’s it about? What’s important? And increasingly what I’m finding is that I’m doing some of that ahead of time when I’m assembling the unit with the artist. But I’m starting to see that I can also trust that when the kids are deeply engaged in the learning process, unforeseen things will happen that I could never have predicted, ahead of time, and I’m skilled enough at this point to go with that, and incorporate it, and maybe even take it to another level, in a direction that I couldn’t have anticipated before the unit happened and if you’re using canned stuff you don’t want to deviate. That’s one of the ways you measure whether it was working or not. And this is almost the opposite. Like, if I feel that we haven’t had some huge inspiration that came out of everybody, not just me but them, and we haven’t taken that somewhere, then I feel like we haven’t really done it.”

Shelby the tech librarian who worked with all the artists and all the teachers at her school, summed it up with this.

Shelby: Well, it’s just given me an idea, I mean, we’ve always done some type of an arts here at this school. But it’s given me an idea and shown me that there’s more to it than just the basics and what we’re used to and it’s basically opened horizons, and shown, “Well we could do this…” and y’know stretch the kids’ imagination.”