Social-Emotional Learning: Part 2: Music
By Amy Woodley
As we move through October, Music and Performing Arts programs are really starting to hit their stride! Our auditoriums are open once again, our students are performing for live audiences, and our community is coming together in ways we have not been able to for the past year and a half. It feels REALLY good to be making music together again!
Part 1 of this series (September 30, 2021) discussed the natural partnership between The Arts and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Just like any classroom, instruction in Visual Arts, Music, and Theatre is enhanced when there are great SEL structures in place. It is important to be able to recognize those structures, make them a strategic part of the lesson planning process, and name them when necessary during instruction. Helping students see those connections between their content learning and the skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship building is just as important as creating an environment that values their intellectual and emotional growth.
The image below is a link to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Interactive CASEL Wheel. Click the image, and you will be able to use their interactive wheel to investigate how the SEL competencies and Arts competencies work together to enhance student achievement. The black dots represent Music (M), Visual Arts (VA), Theatre Arts (TA), and Dance (D) and each dot is a link to more information about what SEL might look like within that content.
After you’ve had a chance to explore the Arts/SEL wheel, consider finding time to connect with a colleague. Are there aspects of SEL learning that are enhanced in your classroom through one or more of these art forms? Are there parts of the artistic creative process that would enhance the social emotional environment in your classroom? If you are a Music, Theatre, or Visual Arts teacher, how do you express the value of and create space for social emotional learning? Capture your thinking, and challenge yourself to make those connections explicit in your lesson planning. I’d love to hear how this looks in your classroom!
This is the second of a three part series focusing on the relationship between SEL and the Arts. Be sure to check out the last installment!
Social-Emotional Learning and the Arts: Part 1: Theatre
By Drew Keat
Returning to in-person learning has been a significant transition for all members of the Jeffco Community. We are facing a variety of new challenges that require careful consideration and strategic intervention. In light of some of these challenges, the benefits of intentional focus on Social Emotional Learning have drawn our attention. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, and enhances students' abilities to succeed in school, careers, and life. In addition, school-wide benefits of SEL include improved attitudes and behaviors throughout the school. The Jeffco Importance of SEL webpage outlines further benefits. However, these benefits are not simply elicited from isolated SEL instruction. To maximize the intended benefits, these lessons and skills need to be revisited and reinforced throughout a student’s day.
This is where the arts provide synergistic support for enhancing SEL. Arts education lends natural answers to the question “How do we reinforce the explicit instruction of SEL skills with authentic experiences and practice?” In January of 2020, the Journal of the National Association of State Boards of Education published a theory of action recognizing the implicit social-emotional learning involved in the daily experiences of arts education. While SEL competencies are not necessarily the primary instructional focus for arts courses, most arts educators do spend additional time and energy focusing on social-emotional development because these skills naturally supplement the outcome of their own content standards.
For instance, in Theatre, the recurrent experiences of auditioning for a production, rehearsing for performances, building ensemble, and engaging in the rigorous analyses necessary for creative self-expression provide fertile ground for the developmental experiences that are essential for high-quality SEL outcomes. Alternatively, by overtly building self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making, theatre students are able to give stronger performances, participate more effectively in ensembles, and execute more meaningful artistic analyses. Arts teachers tend to recognize that the development of SEL skills provide the answers for students when they ask “Why are we learning this?” This inherent relationship between SEL and Arts education indicates that some of our most valuable resources for SEL integration are arts teachers and their programs.
This synergy between content and SEL does not need to be confined to arts classrooms. Natural connections and interdependencies between SEL competencies can and should be made within all contents. With this in mind, we should remember that opportunities to draw on the experience and best practices of arts educators can be leveraged to enhance SEL instruction throughout our educational communities. As we approach the goals of SEL integration, one place to start could be the use of pedagogical strategies that are essential for Arts education.
This is the first of a three part series focusing on the relationship between SEL and the Arts. Be sure to check out our upcoming installments!
Theatre Activities for Reinforcing SEL
This year Jeffco is celebrating 50 years of Visual Arts Shows. Perhaps you’ve attended a Jeffco show in the past, and it is very possible that you’ve known a student whose work was displayed either at the Elementary Art Show (at Red Rocks Community College), the Middle School Show (at Lakewood Cultural Center), the High School Show (at the Arvada Center), or at the Equity Show (at the Jeffco Ed Center). Due to the pandemic, there were no live shows this year but we still found a way to celebrate both the history of Visual Arts Shows in Jeffco and the resilience of both our teachers and students, who have had to teach and create under shifting remote and hybrid environments, with limited resources and interrupted instruction. A partnership between the Jeffco Schools Foundation, community donors, teachers and district staff has made possible the ability for student work to be recognized, an excellent example of the Jeffco Generation Skills “Agility and Adaptability” and “Collaboration”.
Jeffco’s Visual Arts teachers' commitment to nurturing creativity and artistic skills from K-12 is why our students in Jeffco are able to produce such amazing work. As we know the arts are important to the development of our students in many ways, as noted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities: “Decades of research shows strong and consistent links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of impressive educational outcomes.” (2016). What are these benefits to our students? They acquire skills in communication, connect their work to history, develop problem solving skills, are encouraged to be inventive and take risks, and through study and practice become connected to their own culture and cultures throughout the world (Seneca Academy, 2021). In addition, studies have shown that greater arts education has led to fewer disciplinary problems and higher attendance, graduation rates and test scores (Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, 2010).
Though we were saddened not to be able to enjoy the artistic efforts of our K-12 students in person, creating a virtual showplace has had the added benefit of increasing access to their work, as seen by virtual visits from all the family and friends who may not have otherwise been able to travel to an-in person show. Jeffcoarts.com is our website where all of this celebration has come together. It gives visitors an opportunity not just to view student artwork by both school and medium, but a place to learn about what makes the Visual Arts in Jeffco so special. Here one can learn all about the history of the last 50 years, get to know some of our outstanding teachers, and gain appreciation for our sponsors and donors, without whom Visual Arts shows would not be possible. Another great feature of this website is the Guest Book, where visitors can share their thoughts and congratulations and vote for their favorite works. On October 9, the Jeffco Schools Foundation will have a live gala at the Arvada Center celebrating our 50th year, and the top three community selected works will receive a special recognition, one at each level (Elementary, Middle and High School). Please come visit and see for yourself!
Amy H. Flynn, M.A., Assistant Director C&I - Electives
Shannon May, Visual Arts Coordinator
March is World Language Month
Curriculum & Instruction