Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
When it comes to learning, Clare Phillips wants to make the process as easy as possible for children. As an English speakers of other languages (ESOL) teacher at Occoquan Elementary School, she is always looking for new techniques that will help make curriculum easier to understand.
Recently, Phillips learned new strategies through The Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program. She was one of 60 educators in the D.C. metropolitan area to receive the 2020 CETA Certificate of Study.
The CETA program provides teachers with strategies for incorporating the arts and arts-integrated instruction into their classroom. Examples of CETA integration techniques include dance, movement, and “word painting,” or arranging words into a poem.
“How many times is a topic just not being understood?” asked Phillips. “The main goal [of this program]is to integrate [the arts]into the curriculum and make the material more palpable to children.”
For the program, teachers participate in a minimum of 21 hours of professional learning, which includes attending group workshops. Expert teaching artists and educators lead the group, as they explore ways to bring the arts into any subject. Rather than listen to a lecture, attendees participate in the lessons themselves to practice the techniques.
“You learn from the instructor’s teaching style as much as you hear it,” said Phillips. “Everyone is professional and friendly, so it’s easy to learn [the techniques].”
Throughout the program, each participant develops a lesson and submits documentation that shows evidence of the impact of the arts on students. Phillips, for example, developed a lesson where students created a tableau, or live picture, in small groups to learn about the water cycle.
Upon learning about abstract techniques like tableau, Phillips has further learned the value of bringing the arts into the classroom. She recommends The Kennedy Center’s CETA program to all educators, especially those looking to incorporate new techniques into their lessons.
“[The arts] can make learning fun and exciting for them. The kids have to work together to make it happen,” said Phillips. “You want your kids to be thinkers and [incorporating the arts]helps.”