This week, as teachers are preparing for students to return, we had an opportunity to bring together all of the art teachers in the division… 370 of ’em! (Have I ever mentioned, to those non-local readers, that my school district is rather large?)
The start of a new school year is a great time to celebrate our successes and reflect on how we can build on them in the coming months. Thanks to these 370 friends and colleagues, we have a lot to celebrate.
- Not least of these is that there are 370 of us! This is an increase over last year, and in the arts any increase in our numbers, year over year, suggests greater opportunity for students to be engaged in the arts at school.
- More to this point, we have been watching the amount of time for elementary art increasing across the division. All of our elementary schools are experiencing some adjustments to their weekly schedules, and as a result, the vast majority or our 139 elementary schools now provide an hour of art instruction weekly to all grades. That’s awesome!
- We have a new Program of Studies! Teams of teachers have been working over the last two years to revise and refine our local curriculum, and through their hard work and creativity, we have a new document that is going to go a long way to support quality instruction and assessment, and as a result, improve student learning.
- The data shows we are doing pretty well! Not all art teachers get excited about data, but despite not being a mandated subject for state testing, we do have some data to study. We have a 6th grade art assessment delivered annually in our elementary schools, and each of our high schools offers Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses in the visual arts which provides us with some additional metrics. Our AP scores in art are well above the national average. IB scores are well above the world avarage. And our 6th grade assessment shows some pretty clear evidence that we are doing what we set out to do. We have been working for a number of years, now, on balancing the importance of the product, with process and understanding. Our 6th grade assessment shows we are really doing this. In fact, process and understanding scores are higher than product scores.
- Finally, a very exciting part of any new school year is our new teachers! I want to thank everyone for giving such a warm welcome to over 30 new art teachers this morning. New teachers bring such fresh perspectives and energy to our programs, and I am always excited to work with them and learn from them.
Whether you are a new teacher or one who has lost count of how many school years you have started, I want to thank you for all of the positive energy you brought to our kick-off celebration today, and I wish you all the very best in the new year.