It’s September, and my first school year without a classroom of my own and students to love. Needless to say, I am definitely missing my kiddos. Because of this, I decided to connect to my former students by doing some research on Arts Integration Programs in Arizona schools. As most teachers who have ever used art integration in their classrooms already know – these types of programs have a profoundly positive impact on both teachers and students. Through my own experiences and research, I’ve decided to compile this list of the 3 most important reasons we need more art in public schools (although there are about a million more I could list).
As a special education teacher, social skills and emotional health have always been strong parts of my program. Throughout my years as a special educator, I always tried to use art as a means to help students express themselves, especially students with limited or no verbal language. Last year, we read a book about emotions and created this heart project after words. The premise of the project was that even though things happen in our lives that break our hearts, we can always work together to help each other “heal”. We created these “band aids” to represent kind words and nice gestures that could “heal” our friends. Throughout the entire school year, it was amazing to see how many students pointed to or referenced our classroom heart when attempting to express or deal with their emotions.
Most people who have been in a classroom or have more than one child understand that different children learn in different ways. In the early 90s, a researcher out of Harvard named Howard Gardener introduced Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences. Through his research, Gardner discovered that people actually learn through 9 different modes. These modes are: spatial, naturalist, musical/auditory, logical/mathematical, existential, interpersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, linguistic and intrapersonal. Each person learns best through one or a few of these modes. It’s simple to see how integrating arts can touch on all of these types of learning styles.
Visual/Spatial – Creating 3D artistic representations of learning material
Naturalist - Creating art outside or art made from natural objects
Musical/auditory – Incorporating songs into everyday learning
Logical/mathematical – Using artistic patterns to describe occurrences
Existential – Discussing great works of art from the past and how they resonate with today’s culture
Interpersonal – Working on art projects in a small or large group
Linguistic – Use poetry or other written art to explore topics
Intrapersonal – Work individually on an art project
For more information on Gardener’s Intelligences and take a quiz to discover your own intelligences, visit: this link.
Funded by the Arizona Corporation on the Arts, a program called the Strengthening Schools Through Arts Partnerships (SSTAP) programs were created in 2013. Because of the success of the pilot program, SSTAP was continued and new research findings have recently been released on the 2015-2017 cohorts of teachers and learners. The research includes findings from an independent evaluation agency that determined SSTAP programs provided “an enhancement in teacher efficacy, a change in teaching practice, and an increase in student engagement.”
Enhanced Teacher Efficacy – Through interview, teachers reported students as more engaged, and better able to master topics than before arts was integrated into every subject.
Changed Teacher Practices –SSTAP includes a strong professional development component and teaching artists actually co-taught alongside teachers. It didn’t take long for teachers to understand arts integration and mold it to their own subjects and teaching styles.
Increased Student Engagement – Throughout both of the pilot schools, teachers and students both reported a much higher rate of engagement. One teacher explains that students who did not often participate in conversation or have creative ideas “all of the sudden became creative” through the program. Students also reported arts integration being their favorite part of the school day.
To read the full report visit: azarts.gov.
Although I truly miss my students to the core, I also feel extremely blessed to have been able to follow my dreams and create a career as a custom portrait artist. If you are seeking a custom portrait of your children or family, reach out to me today. I look forward to working with you to create something magical.