This August, we held our annual Summer Arts Integration Conference, a week long arts integration-focused professional develpment open to all Baltimore City Public School teachers. Nestled in the Annex building of City Neighbors High School, Baltimore City teachers gathered daily to meet with and learn from teaching artists from all over Maryland who specialize in connecting various art forms with core curriculum courses.
Each day started off with an inspiring keynote presentation and meditation session intended to both motivate and invigorate teachers. The week started off with a land acknowledgement from Kyle Swann of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe who also shared about the almost 400 years of documented history between the Piscataway People and the State of Maryland. Other keynote speakers included Michelle Faulkner of Baltimore Improv Group, Love Groove Festival founder, musician (and City Schools grad) John Tyler, Spiritual Leader and former art teacher Rev. Dr. Raymont Anderson, and Erik Spangler of the Baltimore Music Box. The keynotes connected teachers to community partners and artists on the ground and expanded their understanding of how the arts play a role in the creative economy.
Emily Fleming, of Yoga in Classrooms & Schools, would follow each keynote with Creative Meditation sessions intended to get teachers listening, moving, and breathing. These sessions prepared teachers to dive into interactive and hands-on workshops.
We adapted this year’s conference to be hybrid so that we could meet teacher’s needs and honor their busy summer break schedules. There were in-person options and virtual options as well as synchronous and asynchronous courses. This gave teachers the flexibility to tune in and interact and to complete courses on their own time. With the ability to earn AU credit, this flexible professional development structure was an attractive option for teachers looking to expand their understanding and practice of arts integration.
Teachers had a wide variety of art forms to explore through the studio sessions and video course which showcased Arts Every Day’s impressive network of teaching artists and organizations. Teachers sang songs to tell stories, created zines to talk about social studies, discovered engineering through paper folding. From math concepts used in rhythm through music and movement to theater skills used to enhance reading comprehension, teachers hopefully were able to walk away this summer with some fresh ideas and techniques to being back to their classrooms.
Top left- Kevin Martin: “The Steel Drum Experience”; Top right- Alyssa Fenix: “Collage Stories”
Bottom left: “Feeling Your Feelings” with Ephraim Nehemiah; Bottom right: Kyle Swann of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe.