David Bowles and I have a structural column between our desks that we’ve dubbed the “Idea Parking Lot.” It is plastered with sticky notes of project ideas, organizational strategies, and things we want to remember. One of these sticky notes says, “MORE TIME TO REFLECT.” As we conclude our Thinking Through Art programs for the school year I am realizing the good fortune of having a program that generally does not run in the summer. I have entered the time of year when I do actually get time to reflect. Of course I have endless other projects to work on too, but for the first time in 3 semesters I am truly prioritizing this reflection time. Some of this reflection is formal and structured and happens after every residency. Other reflections are informal, but equally productive.
Formally, I am analyzing assessment data from participants (students, teachers, teaching artists, interns, etc.). I am updating all our “numbers served” spreadsheets – this school year we served over 700 students in 6 different schools, which is double the number we served in the 2009-2010 school year. I am editing curriculum and lesson plans based on what we learned this year so that they can be replicated next year even more successfully if a school is interested in a similar project.
Informally, I am trying to take the time to consider the experiences the teaching artists and I had in the classroom this year, the changes I’ve made to the program, and where it might go next. I’m crafting an end-of-the-year session with teaching artists and volunteers to debrief on our experiences and discuss how we can strengthen the program for next year.
While I do get a bizarre satisfaction from well-organized excel spreadsheets, perhaps my favorite part of this reflection time is looking at the completed student art. Our wonderful school year volunteer (now officially our summer intern) Brigitte, just finished helping upload all the student projects to our flickr site. On the site you’ll see:
• Scroll paintings from last semester at Liberty High School (made in 5 double-period classes)
• Scroll paintings from The High School for Law and Public Service (made in 10 single-period classes)
• Scroll Paintings from PS 86X (made in 5 single-period classes)
• Printed mandalas and scroll paintings from PS 90X (each made in 5 single periods)
• Hybrid Animal watercolor/pastel reliefs and printed mandalas from The Dwight School (each made in 4 or 5 single-periods)
• Watercolor/watercolor pencil scroll paintings from PS 32Q (made in 4 single-periods)
• Hybrid Animal Sculptures from Liberty High School
• Large-scale group projects depicting settings with photographs of the students in gestures and poses from Liberty High School