MSEED Key Findings
Clarifying and Communicating Goals and Process For All Stakeholders
The MSEED initiative allowed Project AIM to clarify the model through the development of support materials. Revisions to the Teaching Artist and Classroom Teacher Handbooks more thoroughly defined expectations and what a healthy arts integrated residency looked like. A Unit Plan rubric was developed to articulate standards around written documentation and this website was created to help all partners gain access to both process and expectations. Also, parent handouts were developed to communicate Project AIM goals and student participation.
Different Schools Need Different Structures - Listen to Craft a Unique Approach
Project AIM has always worked with self-selected classroom teachers and learning communities at each school. However, MSEED was the first time that we worked with non-volunteer classroom teacher partners. Both principals and teachers were asked to participate as a part of a district-wide effort. This requirement made it even more important to consider each school’s unique goals and needs. Listening to teachers and principals first and providing flexible alternatives to programmatic structures helped encourage buy-in and create stronger relationships.
Project Management: Clear Roles and Structures for Scalability
Project AIM has benefited from several large grants from the U.S. Department of Education and learned more about project management in every grant. This grant was a dramatic increase in scale for the program and required careful attention to efficient systems and protocols. Careful budgeting, scheduling and assigning specific management roles to all staff were critical. Some examples of these changes included:
Restructuring staff so that there was a support person accountable for each school and responsible for managing a set of residencies.
Staff being physically present for the first planning meetings between all new teachers and artists.
Onboarding a large set of new artists required a more structured training process.
Building a Relationship: Creating Shared Values
In the first year of the MSEED grant, there was a dramatic transition in district leadership. Having written the grant in partnership with the previous district administration, there was a lot of work to be done in relationship building and communication with the new district leaders. As the district developed a new strategic plan, it was important to frame program activities through the language of district goals.
Role of the Arts Specialist in MSEED
The original grant proposal written by Project AIM did not recognize a role for school-based arts specialists. District 65 is unique in that all students K-8 receive weekly instruction in Art, Music and Drama and as a result, there is a rich set of resources and a high level of arts education already taking place in these schools. The Art teachers were initially concerned about their lack of involvement in a district-wide arts education endeavor. An arts advisory committee was established, including an arts specialist from each school as well as the arts chairperson for Visual Arts, Music and Theater. Through quarterly meetings, this group established goals for their participation and helped guide Project AIM toward practices that took advantage of this incredible resource in District 65 schools and set standards for partnership