The potential of an single teacher working independently in his classroom will never equal that of a team of teachers working together to improve student learning.
Keep Swimming by Leslie O’Shaughnessy, art teacher
Today more than 20 different art collaborative teams are meeting across the school district. Teams are specific to level (elementary, middle, and high). They are organized geographically for elementary and middle school art teachers, and high school art teachers are meeting in specific interest groups such as photography, computer graphics, sculpture/ceramics, Advanced Placement, and others.
The existence of Collaboration Learning Teams has been increasingly common place in our schools for several years now, but this has not necessarily been the case for art teachers. Frequently, they are the only art teacher in their building, and even in cases when they work with a few others, such as in high schools, some or all of the teachers may be the only one who teaches a particular discipline or class. The ideal of a collaborative team — a group of teachers who teach the same course or curriculum working together to plan instruction and assessments, and review student data — just doesn’t exist for art teachers like it may for teachers who teach, say, Freshman English in a high school, or 4th grade in an elementary school.
Last year, the elementary art teachers started meeting as multi-school teams and did an exceptional job of finding ways to support each other to improve student learning. This year even amidst calendar and schedule changes, we are expanding our efforts to the secondary art teachers to see if we can take advantage of the power of collaboration to support all art teachers. It’s no easy task finding time for teachers to meet. Many of our teachers have schedule conflicts today, but I give props to those who are meeting today because I know they are choosing to meet with a collaborative team during their own planning time.
I am excited about the work we are doing toward developing a thriving professional learning community of art teachers! I know we are only beginning to tap the potential of this approach.