Introducing the School Arts Plan to Staff
Get your staff excited and ready to participate in implementing the arts plan
Start with an art-making activity
Demonstrate how even a short arts making experience can warm up people for learning and support important student habits such as creativity, communication and collaboration.
Here are two sample activities to use when introducing your staff to the Arts Plan. Both come from the book,Catch the Fire: An Art-Full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults, and Communities by Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy. This is the book provided to each arts team at their Fall Arts Team Launch Meeting.
Visual Art Activity: Pass Around Drawing
Theatre Activity: This Is Not A…
Here is another theatre arts integration lesson developed by Gail Sehlhorst
Theatre-Literary Arts Integration Dynamic Understandings Lesson Plan
Introduce the Arts Vision and Arts Action Plan
Distribute copies of the Arts Plan in advance to all staff and ask everyone to read in advance. Also bring hard copies of the plan to the meeting for participants to review during the conversation.
Introduce the Arts Team members, including the Arts Team Lead. Have members of the Arts Team or larger faculty read elements of the School Arts Vision aloud. Then have participants look at the School Arts Plan and its major initiatives or goals.
Facilitate the Focused Conversation below, using a selection of questions that best fit your situation.
- When you review the plan, what words or phrases stand out for you? [Go around the room and have everyone answer this first question.]
- Are there any questions about the elements of the School Arts Vision?
- What goal stands out for you?
- What catches your attention about the steps in the plan?
- Who are some of the key players who will implement the plan?
- What excites you about the plan?
- As we look at the goals of the plan, what will be the easiest for us to do?
- What will be more challenging to accomplish?
- Which elements of the Arts Vision and the Arts Plan might family members respond to most favorably?
- If our school could accomplish only one thing this year, what would it be?
- What insights are you having about how we can accomplish this?
- What strengths or resources can we take advantage of in the next two years to build the arts at our school?
Document the answers to these questions.
- What are some of the first steps we need to take as a staff?
- What kind of support needs to be put in place to assist the teaching staff in implementing the Arts Plan?
- What kind of structure (committee or scheduled check-in points) will help us to communicate and stay on track with the Arts Plan? [Ideally, each arts Plan goal already has an identified point person who will shepherd the work forward. Consider having this person announce the goal, describe their excitement about it, and enlist volunteers to work with them. Record the names of new volunteers.]
- Who can we reach out to for help and support?
- What does each of us need to do first?
In a follow-up email or a note in meeting minutes that are shared with all participants, recap the answers given to the decisional-level questions and remind everyone of the workgroup assignments and point people.
Tips and Speaking Points for Introducing the School Arts Plan
Here are some suggestions and ideas from principals who have completed school arts planning:
- Use a full staff meeting soon after the plan completion.
- Obtaining a critical mass is key to developing buy-in and advancing the plan in a sustainable way. Therefore, it’s important to find a time to share information about the School Arts Plan when you have the whole staff together.
- Provide staff with an initial arts experience (such as one of the arts activities from the PAL Catalyst Workshop Module). Then have staff debrief or reflect on the experience as a group so that the value of the activity becomes clear.
- Have each Arts Team member who is a point person for an Arts Plan goal speak briefly about what they will be doing. Following the presentations, ask for volunteers from the staff to help with each area or project so that there is a small committee established for each goal (see Decisional questions).
- Create momentum and make the plan common knowledge:
- Create a display of the Arts Team members, with photos, bios, and some of the artwork they made at the Catalyst Workshop.
- Incorporate your Arts Plan into grade-level or school improvement plan professional learning communities. Consider asking each grade level to come up with their own commitments in the arts for the year and to request appropriate professional development to support their commitments.
- Introduce one action step per quarter or trimester.
- Roll out the plan in small pieces. Maybe focus on only one goal at a time. Do something well rather than spinning your wheels on too many initiatives.
- Include one arts experience at every staff meeting. Or have a meeting that focuses on the arts at least three times a year.
- Pick low-hanging fruit. What’s already going on? How can you take the next step in an area or program that already exists?
Be explicit when speaking with staff
- Acknowledge that it will take time and not everyone will initially embrace the work. It may be that not everything in the plan gets done in the first two years.
- Know that it’s a constant juggling act, with all of the priorities Principals have.
- Remind your staff regularly that arts education and the School Arts Plan are priorities, so that staff members maintain awareness and commitment.
- Encourage everyone to work together, as well as to do the things each can do individually, so that collectively, the school can ensure that the important work is completed or advanced.