Archive for January 3rd, 2020


Circles in Life

January 3, 2020

Taking action

Another holiday has come and gone – the circle between December’s seems to be smaller and smaller. I’m not sure who said “the days are long but the years are short” but I notice that is more true than in the past. I find the holidays energizing, a chance to gather with friends and family and to take time to breath more deeply. I realize that is not true for all adults, let alone young people – the holidays are difficult and even as I write this I know of friends who are struggling for different reasons.

As I watch the sun rise on the second day of the new year I am NOT thinking about resolutions or goals but reflecting on the last year, 10 years and 20 years. A ton of good progress has been made in arts education in our state and the country. I realize that not everyone shares that belief. I’ve been fortunate that my view has been from many places and levels – the classroom as an visual art teacher, as a life-long learner always wanting to experience more, as a state employee, and as an educator who has worked on national initiatives as well as on the international level. Please, take my word – arts education is doing well!

BUT, well isn’t providing access for all learners and is not providing an excellent arts education for all learners, PK-12. Soooooo…. we shouldn’t sit back and wait for someone to tap us on the shoulder.  Nope, we need to continue to be proactive (or start being!) with voices of clarity around the essentialness of an excellent arts education and access to it for ALL learners – no matter how young or old!

This takes leadership and an ongoing commitment. If I’ve learned one thing very well is how dedicated and committed arts educators are to making a difference in the classroom and beyond. This is exhibited in multiple ways – leading from the classroom can be difficult but necessary! Taking on responsibilities in schools and communities is part of the circle. No one needs to take this on alone. When we give we receive in so many ways.

If you’re thinking, ‘I’m only one person, what can I do? Where do I start? How can I make a difference? How do I create a movement, change a direction, move the ball forward? You’re right, no need to do this work alone. Collaborate! I’ve had wise colleagues who believe that ‘none of us is as smart as all of us’. Below is Argy’s list for how to start collaborating more effectively.

  • Invite people to collaborate that are different from each other and ask them to:
    • Be humble and leave your ego at the door
    • Communicate – “a process of transmitting and sharing ideas, opinions, facts, values etc. from one person to another or one organization to another.” Everyone has something to offer.
    • Recognize individual differences, skill sets, and interests and be curious about what others offer
    • Consider what you can do together more effectively then working alone
    • Be willing to take risks and think differently to allow learning to come more rapidly
    • Be kind – with actions and language
  • Start with a common read and respond to what is read through the creation of art work. Share the artifacts so each person can ask questions and learn. Everyone doesn’t process by reading, thinking and talking. I suggest starting with a book or TED Talk on ‘growth mindset’.
  • Identify the challenge the group wishes to take on to build momentum, change a direction and create a movement.
  • Collectively determine goals, steps, and outcomes.
  • Determine the plan in reaching the outcomes for a scalable movement.

Successful collaboration is essential for today and the future and it’s a useful tool for arts educators, artists, community members, and others committed to excellent arts education as they lead the work in schools and communities in our country and world.

It’s time, lean in and make it happen! Be part of the circle that gets stuff done! View this as an opportunity for the learners you work with, no matter what age they are. You won’t regret working with others to raise the bar for arts education! “A year from now you may have wished you started today.” ~Karen Lamb

%d bloggers like this: