The Community that Art Built

It always amazes me how quickly a community can be build when art is involved.  I was reminded about this last week, during the grad class I taught in arts integration and the creative process when I saw it happen again.  During our five day class we created visual art, music, stories, poems and drama together and through that process, we became extremely close for a group of women who were practically strangers the day before the class.

I was first introduced to this phenomenon of art and community when I was getting my masters from Endicot College in Arts and Learning.  With every class we took and every art form we experienced together, we got closer and closer to one another.  Things came up.  Things that were personal and raw and real.  We supported one another.  Laughed with one another.  Celebrated with one another.  It is amazing what we did for each other.  And the commonality we all had – a love for art.

Art making breaks down walls and gives you a level of connection nothing else can.  As you create art and share art, you build a safe environment for a group to learn and share and grow together.

This can be something we instill in the lives of our students.  This sense of a tight-knit community that is supportive, encouraging and empowering.  Imagine if we took the time – REALLY took the time to lay that foundation in our classrooms and allowed time for our students to create art together.   It doesn’t matter if we see our students all day everyday or for 45 minutes a week; if we see a class of 25, a small group of 6 or a student one-on-one.  If we take the time to create with them, the bond that is made will only intensify the learning possibilities throughout the year.

By the time Friday of our class last week rolled around we were hugging good-bye, vowing to keep in touch and continue our journey together.  This happened years ago as well for me with my fabulous arts and learning cohort.  Yes, life gets in the way sometimes: schedules and family, work and play, but whenever one of us gets a message from another, it’s like we were just together yesterday.  That bond that art built lasts a lifetime.

Enjoy your day!

~EMP

Ideas for building community in your classroom:

For additional ideas and thoughts on this subject, see the post Artful Community or check out the “community” tag.

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and is currently enrolled in a C.A.G.S. program through Plymouth State University with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and leads an arts integration PLC (PLaiC). Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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9 Comments

  1. Sue Densmore says:

    Elizabeth -

    I was first introduced to the idea of art and community the very first time I sang in a choir. Your post reflects something I am very intentional about in my arts program down at Triton. Our band, and our drama groups, are the tightest knit groups in the school, and it is because with art, we hang our true selves out there for all to see.

    I would love to somehow use this knowledge to build community among our teachers.

    Nice post!

  2. Julie says:

    I am writing as a student who was fortunate to take part in this great week-long graduate class. We truly had such a wonderful time together…while exploring our creative sides and doing a fair amount of work. The idea of the process of art-making breaking down walls and building connections is so powerful. My wheels are turning as I try to design some lessons which will help develop a positive sense of community from day one of the coming school year…

  3. Jen says:

    Well, this course promises to be a bonding experience…something that teachers do not always take the time or have the time to do with each other. Exciting! I love that this course is not administration-driven but passion-driven because of teachers who share the desire to help students become well-rounded learners. I am glad to have representatives from the elementary to high school levels. Well, I’m not sure about the middle school… Anyway, I hope people know that high school is not all about lectures and note taking. We do a lot of creative “stuff” up on the hill. And, we wish to learn how to integrate the arts more fully.

  4. Mary Linda Krikorian says:

    Art and the Community is a marvelous concept as I have been trying to live it in my Music classroom for the past eight years. My love of art and music comes across in my teaching, and in every other aspect of my life. I try my best to bring out in my kids the creativity that I believe EVERYONE possesses. If one kiddo simply can’t get the hang of the recorder, then I will put those kids on choreographing the number that we are working on.

  5. Marianne says:

    As an early childhood teacher, art has always played an important roll in my curriculum. With the ever increasing academic demands and new initiatives that roll in and out, I look to art as my anchor. It’s the connecting link that helps me to stay balanced and keep the learning meaningful. As a student growing up, art was my strength. If only that strength and ability was used more to strengthen other academic areas of learning for me. I look forward to delving deeper and learning so much more about arts & integration and what it can do for my classroom!

  6. Marcia says:

    For me, building a sense of community is the most important part of my day. Some years this can be accomplished within the first month of school and other years it can take much longer. The key is to not give up! (Perhaps we are given those tougher years to force us into adding to our bag of tricks!) I am hoping that this course will not only give me a chance to be part of a new community of educators but will give me a chance to breathe a bit and gather new ideas for helping this particular group of children become a better community.

  7. patty says:

    So true! When we let children play together, sing together, build and create together we foster that community bond. Taking the time to REALLY allow our students to create together in this safe environment is key. I feel energized to teach and facilitate this process in my classroom. That is what I was looking for when I signed up for this course. The learning and connections that come from this process only intensify the success of our students. Isn’t that what we want?

  8. Thanks for the super idea. Every child has to be practiced as you told.

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