Advice to an Arts Supervisor

I met with a friend and colleague for lunch today to chat about his new role as a fine arts supervisor in a nearby school district. I didn’t go in with a specific list of advice to give, but after some reflection, here are a few things I hope he will take away.

Moving On Up by Charles Raubacher, art teacher
Moving On Up by Charles Raubacher, art teacher

  1. Just as in the classroom, relationships are paramount. Take the necessary time to get to know the teachers, schools, and programs you are working with and develop positive relationships that will serve the work you will do together in the future.
  2. Just as you would do with students, find out first what your teachers value and do well. This will be the foundation upon which learning, improvements, and change can be built.
  3. Collect data at the start… as you would in a classroom. You’re in education, pal! You want to know if what you are doing is making a difference, and to do that you need to have data to show where you began.
  4. As you might with students, ensure that your teachers feel ownership of the work you are doing to improve student learning. Teachers who play a role in the decision making will better understand the WHY of change, and will be more committed to the work.
  5. Remember that improving student learning (the work of education) is a process that will involve many steps. Each step should be manageable, and a strong structure and plan for the process will lead toward the goal, just as it does in the classroom. (Is that part feeling repetitive yet?)
  6. Identify your rock stars! In any group of teachers you will have a few rock stars. These are great people to go to when you need a sounding board for ideas or need help… but be careful not to overextend them.
  7. Be patient. Change takes time. But be strategic. Time won’t make the change you want without a little help.
  8. Never stop learning.If we stop, the progress stops. Continue to seek opportunities that will stretch your thinking and help you grow.

(Eight is a nice round number, isn’t it?)

Andrew, you’ll be great!

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