Why Art Matters?

This year the Rio School District has made a concerted effort to develop our Visual arts programs across our eight schools. In doing so, we hired two new outstanding art teachers who are working to develop art lessons and learning with students and teachers alike. This week we will hold our first art show of the year which we hope to follow up with our end of year show in May.

There are many great thinkers who answer the question posed by by this blog. Elliott Eisner, Daniel Pink, and many others are resources to describe why integrating arts into learning is essential as well as why art for art’s sake is equally a deep human need.

From my point of view, as a graduate of a Bachelor of Fine Arts program and a life long maker and lover of art, art is a basic element of what it means to be a human being. Not having arts in schools removes this basic element and steals the opportunity for students to experience and learn about themselves and their world. Art has existed as long as there have been humans. We can look to the caves of Las Caux or Rock art of the Chumash to see human’s expressive yearnings to use visual imagery to understand and communicate their understandings of their world, themselves, and their realities.

In the last few years I have found a treasure trove of creativity in the children and teachers of the Rio School District. Integrating the Arts in our daily learning activities has promoted children’s development of 21st century practices; communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and caring. These practices are needed deeply to survive and thrive in our modern society even as they were essential for humans over the last forty thousand years of our existence. Some say, it is art, that separates us from the beasts, although I have seen some amazing artwork created by elephants and monkeys.

What does it take to be great?

21st century teacher

The leadership of the Rio School District is aiming at greatness. We are rallying our resources and energies to achieve great things. Our main function as a school District is teaching and learning. Along these lines we have established goals and narratives that aim to help every child develop their 21st century practices; collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and caring as well as their literacy in reading, writing, math, and technology. All in all this equates to hiring well and supporting our teachers in their development to become great teachers.

The picture in this blog post suggests some important attributes of a great 21st century educator. Along with these newer mindsets, we are aiming to support every Rio teacher in every subject area to become great teachers of reading and writing as well as great teachers of English language development for second language learners. This is what our Rio students need and what will qualify for Rio becoming great.

We are excited about the current year’s effort among our teaching staff who are engaging with new online professional development platforms, Redbird Learning and PADDLE, that are part of our developing system to support teacher learning and growth.

A “portrait of a graduate” is a new term for what school systems aim for in their students. Rio greatness will come from teachers and support staff working together to significantly increase the 21st century skills of our students as well as their basic literacy and command of the English language. This is our charge, our aim, and our enduring work.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American man that left teachers and students an endless legacy of learning for as long as there are schools , lessons, and the country we call the United States of America. In memory of his legacy, I often sing a song I wrote with classes as a way to talk and teach about MLK.

The lyrics go like this;

We are free free
We are free, free, free
We are free free
Thank you Martin Luther King

Black or white
Yellow, brown, red
Its not your color
Its the person instead

We are, are, are
Free!
We are, are, are
Free!

We are very proud
We sing right out loud
We are very proud
That Dr. King could help us out

We are, are, are
Free!
We are, are, are
Free!

Dr. King’s life is testament to many things in life. For students, I like to highlight what a great reader, writer, and thinker he was as well as how he lived and gave his life for the cause of Love and Peace.

MLK Day is a great day in my book.

Rio’s Teachers are Diverse Learners

Rio’s Teachers are Diverse Learners. Our more than 200 teachers are a diverse set of people. Almost a third are new to teaching and new to Rio. Many more have long experience in teaching and here working for the Rio School District. Our teaching staff are engaged as learners and this is a great model for their student learners. Leading by learning is the key as they work to develop innovations, knowledge and skills sets aimed at providing 21st century learning opportunities that yield excellent outcomes for students.

Rio teacher learning is diverse as well. It engages teachers with two online learning platforms; http://redbirdlearning.com and #rioPADDLE which encourage teachers to collaborate and develop new knowledge and skill sets as well as mindsets aimed at providing world class 21st century learning opportunities for students so they can yield outstanding outcomes in their development as students.

This tremendous teacher energy put into learning helps make us a “world class” learning organization. Rio teachers are also learning that innovating, taking risks, learning new things, and growing independently and collaboratively can help students achieve things previously unseen. This blog post honors this energy and looks forward to its growth and development overtime.