Editor’s note: this week, our team at EdCloset is taking time off to be with our families during the holiday season. All of our articles this week will be selected features from our newsletters this past year. Like what you’re reading? Be sure to subscribe!
By now, everyone knows Nike’s tagline, right? “Just Do It”.
And when it comes to teaching approaches, that’s the advice we typically hear, too. Want to use arts integration? Just do it! How about project based learning? Jump on in and just do it! Trying to set up choice-based centers? Just DO it!
That’s easy to say, but I think it’s totally wrong.
To be successful at any of these (or other) approaches in the classroom, you need to have all the information. You need to feel empowered and supported. And saying “just do it” doesn’t help much when you’re struggling to really see how this is going to work in your classroom.
Since we focus on Arts Integration and STEAM here at EdCloset, I’ll be the first to tell you that you can’t just jump right in and expect to see great results. In fact, you’ll probably flop if you do that. Instead, I like to provide a Jumpstart Plan to get you the empowerment and support you need FIRST.
WHAT TO NOTICE
1. You start slowly and with all the information
When it comes to arts integration and STEAM, doing the research and creating a list of features and benefits for your school/classroom is critical. You need to know what it is, how it works, and see it in action first. After you have all of that, then you can begin to think about putting a lesson together.
2. You need a team
Even if it’s just 2 other people (and even if they aren’t super excited from the get-go), you can’t do this alone. After all, these approaches are both about collaboration and connection. Building a team makes that possible.
3. It doesn’t need to be “all or nothing”
You don’t have to start with a huge unit or stressful lesson that will take 3-5 class periods. Start small…ease your way into it! This will help to build up your confidence and make the process so much more authentic to YOU as a teacher.
In our online class The Creative Mindset Blueprint, we share this plan and break out each of these pieces to make it as easy to get started as possible. Why? Because throwing people into the deep end doesn’t always work. Sometimes, we need to slow it down and work on learning how to pieces fit before we take off.
That’s not to say that we never jump in, though. There’s got to be a point when we all take a deep breath and “swoosh” with the best of them. It’s just better to do it when you are fully prepared first!
Susan Riley is the founder and President 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 Arts and the Common Core.
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.