When schools or teachers start out on their Arts Integration journey, so many become frustrated that other teachers or school leaders don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. I know, I know – you’re excited. You’re passionate. You’ve got research that says that Arts Integration works. None of that matters if you don’t have buy-in. And not just buy-in from your colleagues: buy-in from parents and most importantly, from students. How are you creating buy-in for integration?
Make the work happen.
That’s it. That’s the whole secret. I could probably close this post right now at 95 words and be done. Because the secret to creating buy-in for Arts Integration or STEAM integration always lies within the work that you do. The more diligently that you plug on with what you know works for YOUR students, the better your results will be. Your students will become more confident and excited about what they are doing. You’ll begin to see deeper connections and thought processes. Students will begin to persevere in problem-solving because it’s just too fun not to do the hard work. That’s when others will take notice.
Too often, we try and push our passion onto others. I am as guilty as the next person to be sure. I like to move fast – if there is something that I’m doing and it’s working, I want the rest of the world to do it too. It reminds me of when I first started this website over two years ago. I loved what Arts Integration was doing for my students, the staff at my school, and the parental involvement with our school community. I thought that my showcasing all of this “evidence” on a website, people would just naturally flock here and want to change their own classrooms and schools to include Arts Integration.
How wrong I was. How naive.
The whole first year that I wrote on this website, I averaged 50-75 visitors a day. That’s it. And much of that was just for images, so they weren’t even really reading my content. I was heartbroken. I had just shared a wealth of passion and knowledge with the world and the world wasn’t listening. But I plugged on. I kept writing. I put together new materials, a book, a class, two more books, a conference, an app and now another conference. Slowly, people started listening. We have a huge following now and reach more and more people every day. I hear from people all over the country who want to change their teaching practices and those of their school. I hear from parents who want to help bring Arts Integration to their children’s schools. And we’re still growing. But you know what I learned?
It’s all in the work.
Without all of the work, all of the thankless toiling, no one will buy-in to your passion. People don’t like change. They are afraid of what it might do TO them instead of what it will do FOR them. So you with all of your passion, running at them with a huge change and new idea – you’re scaring them. Instead, go back to your work. Make a difference for each child sitting in each chair ever single day. And just like a garden, you’re students are going to bloom. That will get their attention and then you’ll start to hear more and more people asking about that “arts integration thing” you’ve been doing all this time. Keep working and the buy-in will come.
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.