PLaiC is now a new venture for me. It is a Professional Learning Community centered around Arts Integration. What a wonderful example of community. In this case it was a community of teachers getting together to talk freely about their profession and their passion for seeing true arts integration in their teaching.
There were a couple of themes we seemed to keep returning to: Process, Play and Balance.
In PROCESS, we discussed the importance of stressing the process by which we accomplish things and not just the product. I am reminded of how this does not happen in things such as “on-demand” writing like in much high stakes testing. When my students are asked to write a narrative they must do it in a matter of hours independently. There is no inspiration except for a worded prompt, no time to chat about your ideas before planning a story and no time to walk away from your draft before expecting to edit and revise it. What a shame! The writing process is taken out of the equation.
In art, process is important. When I was in grad school we learned to “Trust the Process” as McNiff’s title states. How pertinent it is to work through things, reflect, and revise in order to come out with quality work.
For more, see this collection of articles about “The Process”.
PLAY also came up quite a bit. Unfortunately, it was the lack of play that was mostly discussed. When that time is not there, the places in our brains that thrive on discovery, experimentation and play start to lose their vitality.
I am sad at the fact that as students get older, the less time they have to play. They need it. We need it. We need that time to create new things, work with new materials and discover new ways of doing things.
In terms of BALANCE, we all seemed to agree that we need balance in all things, including curriculum. It’s like the whole language/phonics based language debate – there needs to be balance. So is true in our teaching and integration of the arts. Our students need the basics (the 3 Rs), but they also need the creative. Our job is to teach with that balance, but we need the autonomy in our classrooms to be able to provide that for our students.
For more on balance, see the article “T.R.I.C.ing Kids”
I am so glad that I am now meeting and collaborating with other teachers in my district that share my views on the importance of the arts. There are more out there and it is my hope that this group will grow in the years to come. For now, this community is just what I need to continue my work as a professional.