At Artists for Kids, we understand how essential it is to provide training not just to students, but to teachers as well. When we share insights with our educators, they incorporate it into their classrooms, so students across the district benefit.
Through the generous support of the Edith Lando Foundation, we were able to offer extensive training and curriculum development to almost 40 teachers in conjunction with our teaching exhibition titled Memory • History • Story. The training took place over several weeks in the Fall, and continues to be shared with teachers and students.
In late September, the gallery team, consisting of about ten teachers, received specific training about the works on display, the artists and the themes that the exhibit inspires. Through presentations, explorations, discussions and hands-on studio work, the teachers experienced, first-hand, the opportunity to bring visual learning into the classroom, supporting different learning styles and giving more kids the ability to feel success in the classroom. During the half-day instruction, Megan Smetzer, an art historian, provided insight into the Inuit collection. In addition, master art teacher Veis Dokhani who wrote the curriculum that accompanies the exhibit, presented the content to the gallery teachers.
In mid-October, 30 teachers took part in generalist teacher training. They were introduced to the exhibit, the art, the artists and the themes of the show. They were also given the link to the MyTours app, which allows for a self-guided experience and lesson plans that allow them to share the insights with their students.
The training also provides a natural environment for professional support. "Teachers rarely get a chance to get together, to share ideas and strategies," says Yolande Martinello, Director of Artists for Kids. "We're always working with kids, but we spend all day in the classroom, so there isn't an opportunity to share best practices and stories about what worked and what didn't work in various situations."
The exhibit has had extensive interest throughout the schools. The Aboriginal Education Department participated in a guided tour of the exhibit. Secondary students in the French Immersion program are touring the exhibit, providing critiques in French that will be available as voice clips and soundscapes on the MyTours app. The Gifted Students program is bringing in 160 students for workshops, allowing them to interpret and experience the art and lessons of Indigenous peoples.
"This exhibit in particular has been extremely well received and has brought in more groups of students than we have ever experienced," says Yolande Martinello, Director of Artists for Kids. More than 2,200 young people will come through the doors of the gallery and spend time amid art by our indigenous artists.
Not every classroom can make it to the gallery, so the Outreach Program is being extended to the classrooms across the North Shore. Throughout the year, one of our two master art teachers will be bringing a work of art and curriculum-specific lesson plan to more than 1,000 elementary students. Their two-hour program incorporates lessons about an artist, his or her art and the teachings that the art shares. Then the kids experience hands-on art making. The classroom teachers also benefit, as they experiences how to incorporate more visual arts training into their own lessons. Through the lunch break, the specialist Outreach teachers then share lesson plans and tools with other teachers at each school, potentially reaching every educator in every elementary school visited.
Through the generosity of the Edith Lando Foundation, we are able to bring more visual arts focus and directly elevate the impact of indigenization of the curriculum. This year alone, we will reach almost 5,000 students and 300 teachers.
We thank the Edith Lando Foundation for their support and their comprehension of the impact that targeted teacher training can on students this year and in the years that follow.