At the end of June, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, in collaboration with the Arts Council Santa Cruz County (formerly the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz), was delighted to once again sponsor a week-long Summer Arts Institute for K-8 teachers. The attendees included both classroom teachers and teaching artists from throughout the county.
During the week-long Institute the focus was on Arts Integration and the Common Core Standards. Each day was structured so that two thirds of the time was spent in hands-on art, while one third was spent on reflection and application of the arts in the new educational paradigm of Common Core.
One of the overriding messages of the Institute was that the arts foster a way of thinking that is essential to success in the upcoming shift to Common Core. The four pillars of Common Core (collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking) form the foundation of the arts – these four C’s of Common Core, as they are commonly called, are intrinsic to the arts.
Participants stretched themselves by practicing two arts disciplines – one that was familiar to them and one that wasn’t so they would have the experience of being a new learner in the arts. There were sessions in music, visual art and performing arts (theater/movement).
Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, with teachers and artists excited about going back to school and trying out new ways of integrating what they had learned into other subject areas as well as teaching art to their students. This holistic approach is very much a part of the future in education and the Summer Arts Institute provided a good kick-start! The COE is now working on a mentoring program for these teachers which will maintain the momentum of the Arts Institute throughout the year.