In August, Arts Every Day welcomed educators from across Baltimore to our 4th annual Summer Arts Integration Institute, a week-long professional development intensive for BCPS educators interested in enlivening their teaching practice through arts integration. Our focus this summer, in our second fully virtual convening, was to use the arts to support teacher and student wellness, embrace trauma-informed practices, and focus on adaptability and resilience as we continue to grapple with the pandemic. With over 250 teachers registered, we were honored to present professional development trainings that resonated with teachers and their classroom needs. Our combination of keynote presentations, creative meditations, live streamed artmaking studio sessions, and asynchronous video courses was tailored to help teachers feel inspired and confident going into the new school year.
From August 16th through 20th, teachers gathered for the live streamed portion of the conference, led by a talented and diverse group of teaching artists and thought leaders from Baltimore and the national arts education community. We began each day with creative meditations that helped us center our minds and open our spirits to the artistic work to come. Daily keynote speakers from Baltimore’s treasury of arts leaders included Rufus Roundtree, who shared his experiences encouraging young musicians; Dr. Ashley Minner, who enlightened teachers to Baltimore’s rich Native American history; Graham Coreil-Allen, who spoke about his work making Baltimore more pedestrian-friendly through public art; and representatives from Arts Every Day’s Bmore Youth Arts Advocacy Council, who spoke about how the arts have impacted their education.
In our live art-making Studio Sessions, teachers had the chance to work together on creative projects led by teaching artists, interact with each other, share ideas, and just have fun while learning new skills! We practiced improvisational theater exercises with Bird City Improv, learned about acting with compassion in The Village Bully with Maria Broom, and worked on whole-body support for vocal strength with Chantel Wright. We also embraced percussion and drumming as a community with Murray Piper, learned how to make our own psychedelic-styled posters, created tactile objects to increase arts accessibility, and much, much more!
The asynchronous portion of our conference week presented in-depth trainings pairing specific core subject curriculum goals with an artistic discipline. These Video Courses gave teachers the flexibility to complete courses on their own time and at their own pace. With 16 different courses to choose from, teachers could tailor their experience to suit their area of interest while delving into original topics like “Teaching Smarter with Smartphones,” with guided lessons on screen recording, broadcasting, and mirroring; and the “Collaboration Lab” presented by Urban Bush Women, who brought everyone together spiritually and emotionally, to engage in artistic creation and to discover community connecting points that increase our understanding of the power of art.
Baltimore City Public School teachers who completed the requirements were eligible to receive two AU credits, thanks to Arts Every Day’s long standing support from the BCPS PD Office.
As we found last summer, the challenges we were forced to confront due to the pandemic also allowed us the freedom to make our program more accessible and the ability to introduce new facilitators from all over the US. We hope to continue welcoming more teachers into the Arts Every Day community and inspiring them to spark each student’s creativity through arts integration. We’re looking forward to another school year supporting teachers, and we can’t wait to hear how they put their summer conference experience with us to fabulous use in the classroom!