When you want to start working out, you get a gym buddy. When you decide you want to write regularly, you join a writing group or find a writing buddy. When you decide you want to improve your conversational Spanish, you find a Spanish speaker who wants to practice their English. Then, you meet weekly for an hour splitting your time to cover speaking in both languages. Teaming up with a person or persons with a common goal can really help keep you inspired and focused. Why not employ the same technique for creating Arts Integration lessons by finding an AI buddy?
One of my favorite things about facilitating teacher workshops is the collaboration that naturally evolves amongst the participants. Teachers are resourceful, creative people and when you get them together there’s no stopping them! Unfortunately, so often teachers get stuck in their classrooms answering emails, making phone calls, correcting papers, writing lesson plans, the list goes on. It can feel lonely and isolating; it can also inhibit collaboration. But interactive workshops are one place that teachers can help one another be inspired and generate new ideas.
I was facilitating a workshop on Math and Movement having the attendees dancing some geometry concepts. To begin one activity, I instructed the participants to create obtuse angles with their bodies when the music was loud and acute angles when the music was quiet or soft. After embodying the angles and creating some choreography we had a discussion about the activity. One attendee was a choral director and remarked how intense and focused her muscles felt when she was creating acute angles. She made this amazing connection to her students having trouble producing dynamic changes in their voices.
This director explained that when she directed her students to sing softly, their voices became breathy and lost their intensity. Having done this movement activity, she felt that trying this with her choral students might help them understand the energy and intensity needed to produce a soft but focused, more supported sound. Brilliant, right? When I set out to create my activity, I had no thought at all about vocal dynamics but there was a teacher making a connection to what came naturally to her.
Find a Buddy!
Sadly, workshops like this happen quite infrequently and teachers need more constant and reliable sources of inspiration. So, if you really want to try to include more Arts Integration but feel like you need some accountability and some inspiration, find a buddy! Find a fabulous, creative, like-minded professional to team up with and have some fun brainstorming possibilities. Try out a few activities on each other and see where they evolve. Not only will you have more creative, inspired, well-thought out and effective Arts Integration lessons but you get to have some grownup play dates as well (and we could all use more of those)!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.