Do you ever wish that you could work at your optimum zone all the time?  Think about it: how nice would it be to skip all the warm-ups during your workouts and get right to the zone where you are maximizing your effort?  Or, wouldn’t it be great to forget about putting in all the extra time doing paperwork and taking lunch duties and just focus on that area where you and your students are in the “zone” for learning?

Sure it would.  It’s also not possible.

We need all the other “stuff” in order to get into the zone.  That optimum zone uses more of your brain power and focus for a smaller amount of time than the rest of your day put together.  We would all burn out if we were expected to run in that zone all the time.

That’s part of what makes that zone magical.  We work toward those moments, so that we can live in those moments.

The education world is littered with pundits who claim that we must find a way to maximize student potential, but they immediately follow that with the notion that this means students should be working in their optimal zone all the time – as if the need to warm up and prepare is irrelevant and a waste of time.

The trouble with that is that students are not machines.  They don’t all live in the same zone – much like my running zone is not the same as Hussein Bolt’s.  We have kids that need to move from a basic understanding to being proficient in a skill.  And others who need to move from being proficient to advancing their knowledge and application.  Instead, this mindset of “maximizing student potential” is having the effect of pushing all kids to the middle.

One of the reasons that integration works so well in moving students forward is that it forces you to go through the warm-up process and then allows students to work at their maximum creative zone.  This then frees up the students and the teachers to enjoy the process of the work, and allows the products to reflect their own individual optimal zones.  This is more reflective of what true rigor looks like.

Too often, we are so intensely focused on bringing up our low-scoring students that we forget about extending our students that are already working at a high level.  Arts Integration provides opportunities for all students to maximize their potential using their own brain workout program.  Different perspectives emerge, synergistic collaborations occur and the results are simply astounding.

So the next time you hear “maximizing student potential”, don’t forget to maximize the warm-up (preparation), the zone (activity) and the cool down (reflection).  Only then can your students begin to realize true success.