2016-2017 Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts now taking applications!

Do you believe in the power of arts learning to make a difference in the lives of students?  Do you want to take a leadership role in expanding arts education opportunities in your school and community?

The Montana Arts Council, in partnership with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, is now recruiting educators across Montana for the second year of Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts. Through this innovative program, MAC and the OPI seek to develop teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms.

The program includes an on-site summer institute on arts learning, June 20-29 at Salish Kootenai College, online professional learning opportunities throughout the school year, and support for a field project in the arts in the teacher leader’s school or region.

All K-12 teacher in Montana’s public schools, arts specialist and classroom teachers, as well as qualified teaching artists, are welcome to apply for the program.

Full program information and an application is available here.

The deadline for application is now Wednesday, March 30, 2016.  Contact Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education at the Montana Arts Council, ekohring@mt.gov with questions.

Check out this video of our 2015 inaugural Summer Institute, made by Teacher Leader in the Arts Wes Hines:

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Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts Application Deadline Extended

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The application deadline for the Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts program has been extended to 5:00 pm, Monday, March 2. 

The Montana Arts Council and the Office of Public Instruction are teaming up to offer Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts, a professional development initiative for K-12 educators across the state. Through this exciting new program, MAC and OPI seek to develop teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms.

Who can apply for the program?

  •  Certified arts specialists in K-12 schools in any discipline.
  •  Classroom teachers with significant background and a high comfort level in the arts.
  •  Principals and other school administrators.
  •  Retired teachers who were certified arts specialists.
  •  Professional teaching artists who demonstrate a significant level of experience in and knowledge of K-12 public education.

 

Click here for more information.  Click here for a downloadable pdf with applicant information and instructions on how to apply.

Want to learn more about the National Core Arts Standards? Join us for a free online course!

The Montana Arts Council is offering a free online course for educators on the Montana Digital Professional Learning Network:

Exploring the Arts Standards

with Emily Kohring and Barb Good

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The National Core Arts Standards were launched in June, 2014 in a continuing effort among a broad coalition of national organizations to create a sequential, standards-based approach to arts education across grades and levels.  In addition to Music, Theatre, Dance and Visual Art, the standards also include a new discipline, Media Arts.

This 3-session online course will offer an introduction to the National Core Arts Standards, and facilitate discussion among participating educators about how the discipline-specific National Core Arts Standards may or may not be useful to teaching and learning in the arts in Montana schools. The second session will be a live webinar hosted by Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education at the Montana Arts Council, and Barb Good, member of the music writing team for the National Core Arts Standards.

Session objectives:

  • Understand the philosophy and intended outcomes that shaped the creation of the National Core Arts Standards.
  • Understand the structure and components of the new standards.
  • Identify the intersections between the National Core Arts Standards and the Montana Common Core, and how arts learning supports MCCS learning goals.
  • Identify the intersections between the National Core Arts Standards and the current Montana Standards for Arts, scheduled to be revised beginning in 2015.
  • Analyze the potential for using the new National Core Arts Standards in your classroom, and how Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) are being implemented to gauge student learning related to the new standards.

Target Group: PK-12 Teachers & Administrators, especially Arts Specialists; Post-Secondary Arts Education Instructors

Delivery Method: Online via MDPLN; course opens January 16; live, 1-hr. webinar February 10 from 4:00-5:00 pm (webinar will also be archived for later viewing)

Renewal Units/Credit: 5 OPI renewal units are available for completion of this course.

Cost: No cost

Click here to register for the course or go to http://www.mdpln.org

Contact: Emily Kohring, Montana Arts Council, ekohring@mt.gov 406-444-6522

 

Announcing Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts

OPI AND MAC LOGO

The Montana Arts Council and the Office of Public Instruction are teaming up to offer Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts, a professional development initiative for K-12 educators across the state. Through this exciting new program, MAC and OPI seek to develop teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms. According to the most recent data gathered by the Montana Arts Council, less than half of public schools in the state clearly articulate the arts in their school improvement plans.  In Montana elementary schools, 86% of schools offer music instruction, while only 61% offer arts instruction, less than 5% offer any kind of theatre or dance, and 11% of schools offer no high-quality arts experiences at all (http://goo.gl/rPU2ZR).

In addition, over half of Montana’s schools have fewer than 100 students, and with a small student body, few of them can afford to bring in a full or even part-time arts specialist.   The arts are then left to be taught by elementary classroom teachers, who while endorsed to teach the arts in their curriculum, often lack the skill or confidence to offer high-quality experiences to their students. After years of struggle with cutbacks in budget and programs nationally, there is renewed interest in the impact the arts can have on learning.   And with current research that shows 72% of business leaders say creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring (http://goo.gl/vNxBNp), and a wealth of research to support the myriad benefits of arts education, MAC and OPI see an opportunity to give arts education a much-needed boost in Montana’s public schools by training a cohort of educators to serve as coaches, mentors and advocates in their schools and local communities for an arts-integrated approach to teaching and learning.

“The Montana Teacher Leaders project will add an exciting new professional learning opportunity for all teachers across our great state to integrate the arts into their classrooms and spark creative, engaged and joyful teaching and learning for all learners” says Jael Prezeau, Division Administrator for Content Standards and Instruction at OPI.

In the creation of the Teacher Leaders in the Arts Initiative, MAC Director of Arts Education Emily Kohring researched arts-based professional development initiatives happening in other states to seek out models that could possibly be replicated in Montana. After internet research, phone interviews with colleagues, and a site visit to the Alaska Basic Arts Institute this past summer, Kohring brought back some ideas to share with OPI staff. Integrating her ideas with OPI’s strategic plan for professional learning for educators, a plan was developed jointly to help overcome one of the unique challenges of our state: geography. In a state as large as Montana, how do you ensure an opportunity available to a teacher in Missoula is also available to a teacher in Wolf Point?

In its first year, Teacher Leaders in the Arts will recruit up to 18 teachers evenly distributed across OPI’s nine professional learning regions statewide. Teachers Leader candidates will come to a 10-day summer institute at Salish Kootenai College, where they will be deeply immersed in multi-disciplinary arts integration tools and strategies, brain theory, ideas for building creative classrooms, STEAM learning, and cultural arts led by master teaching artists and educators. Teacher Leader candidates will return to their regions, where they will receive a stipend to support a field project in arts learning during the school year. Technology then becomes the source of connectivity for the Teacher Leader candidates spread across the state, as they gather monthly as an online professional learning community to share how they are implementing what they are learning. They will also receive bimonthly webinars on selected topics in arts learning, led by leaders in the field.

At the end of the school year, the first year cohort will be identified as a Teacher Leader in the Arts in their region. A Teacher Leader in the Arts will be ready to serve as a resource to other educators to help them implement arts-based learning in the classroom, Teacher Leaders will also serve as champions for arts learning in their regions, advocating for greater access to arts learning opportunities for all of Montana’s K-12 students. The first-year cohort of Teacher Leaders in the Arts will also help plan and execute the second year of activities for the Initiative.

In year two, the Teacher Leaders in the Arts program will place a special focus on teachers in schools with less than 100 students, as well as schools with a majority American Indian population.

For the first-year cohort, the program seeks Montana K-12 arts specialists in visual art, music, or theatre; professional teaching artists with significant K-12 public school experience; school principals or administrators; and retired arts specialists. Classroom teachers with a strong background and comfort in the arts will also be considered.

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE 2015-2016 TEACHER LEADERS IN THE ARTS INITIATIVE.

Questions? Contact Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education at MAC, (406) 444-6522 or ekohring@mt.gov

Checking the Creative Pulse

In June, I spent a few days with some really hard-working graduate students.  They were involved in a rigorous, four-week course of study that included early morning classes, an all-afternoon seminar and mountains of reading, projects and papers to complete at night after the long day of intense focus.  What kind of crazy people would give up four weeks of their summer in Montana to work this hard, and miss out on all that camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and craft brew-drinking that the Big Sky has to offer?

Teachers would.  Almost all these graduate students are teachers.  Think teachers don’t work during the summer?  Wrong.  Here is one thing I know about teachers, though it may contradict some characterizations made by the mainstream media:  almost every teacher I know wants to learn how to be a better teacher, and how best to help their students learn.  Towards that end, many go to school in the summertime.  These particular teachers go to school for two summers in a row, giving up time with family and friends to attend the Creative Pulse program at the University of Montana.  Creative Pulse is a master’s degree program in integrated arts and education, and draws not only arts teachers from every discipline, but also classroom teachers of all grade levels and subject areas.  Creative Pulse is taught by UM College of Visual and Performing Arts faculty, plus guest lecturers.  This year, 38 teachers participated in Creative Pulse, most from Montana, but a few from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

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I participated in the first week’s seminar as a guest presenter and observer.  The topic, School Communities: The intersection of Arts, Education and Culture, was led by director of Creative Pulse Karen Kaufmann and Dr. Lori Gray, assistant professor of music education at U of M.  The overarching question for the course was “what does the ideal school culture look like?” To explore the question, participants were led through a variety of arts-based strategies to process numerous readings, discussions and guest lectures.  They danced school culture, they drew school culture, they created frozen images with their bodies of school culture.  They were offered what all students should be offered in an ideal school culture:  multiple ways to express their knowledge and share their ideas.

Creative Pulse itself creates a culture you want to stay in for a while.  It was remarkable to see the kind of community the Creative Pulse participants, who call themselves “Pulsers,” quickly created.  The leaders of Creative Pulse have clearly created a place where risk-taking, creative expression and honest reflection are the norm, and where joy in learning is the most palpable feeling.  Everyone in the room was working very hard in an intense process over four long weeks–but having a ball doing it.

Isn’t that the kind of culture we want for all students?  One where everyone is working hard and having a ball?  Of course, a major topic in the seminar was how the arts can create this kind of joy-filled school culture.  Creative Pulse participants become true believers that the arts can transform the learning environment for students, and many of them become committed to being change agents in their schools.  Yet many of the “Pulsers” will return to schools where the arts are not fully embraced, and where the school culture may not be healthy.  This is one of the conundrums of great arts-based professional development programs for teachers.  So often there are only one or a handful of representatives from a single school who get very excited about what they learn, and return to their school fired up to integrate the arts into the culture–only to meet a wall of obstacles and resistance that deflates the energy they built up during the experience.  Administrators with conflicting priorities, disinterested colleagues, testing mandates, constraints of time and budget–all these things can be bubble-bursting.

How do we help keep the momentum going for teachers coming out of arts-based professional development programs with a mission to transform their school culture through the arts?  Geography is one huge obstacle, especially in Montana.  Our state is very large, and many of our teachers are working in small, isolated communities.  I’ve been having exciting conversations with some of my colleagues at the Office of Public Instruction about the potential in digital technology for teachers, not only as a platform for professional development coursework, but also as a way to connect teachers through online professional learning communities where they can chat with colleagues who have similar interests, no matter where they live.  Coursework is already happening through the new Montana Professional Learning Digital Network, including classes in integrating the arts into the Common Core.  Free services like Google Hangouts can also help teachers meet up online.  Twitter is already a great, no-cost platform to connect teachers, and a large group of Montana educators meet every Tuesday night at 8:00 pm with the hashtag #MTedchat to discuss topics in education and swap ideas.  Maybe we need a #MTartsedchat, too?

One of my favorite things to see is a group of teachers standing together in a circle at an arts-based professional development workshop.  I have led many of them, and I’m always in awe of teachers and their willingness to take risks and try new things like dancing or doing improvisation, even if it terrifies them, if they think they will learn something they can take back to their students.  My hope is that we can create more professional development opportunities for teachers in Montana like the Creative Pulse, places where teachers and teaching artists can stand in a circle, taking risks together, learning and sharing ideas to improve arts education for all students.

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