There’s an Old Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. Step back and I will act.” I’ve used this proverb before to explain the Orff Schulwerk approach to teaching elementary music that I use in my classroom; and to me, it also applies to arts integration.
In June, I was given a wonderful opportunity to attend the Kennedy Center’s Annual Arts Integration Conference in Washington, DC. This conference gave me a better understanding of what arts integration is, and it gave me strategies on how to incorporate arts integration into the classroom. The experience was absolutely incredible!
As an attendee, I was involved in and experienced lessons first hand, which made the conference very enjoyable. I wasn’t just sitting in a chair listening to someone talk, I was going through actual lessons that the master teacher had used with children. I was up dancing and creating tableaus with other teachers; I was sitting on the floor having discussions with other teachers and administrators; and I was participating and creating just as a child would in an arts-integrated classroom lesson.
I attended sessions that combined Dance and Math, Theater and Reading, and a session on documentation of arts integration, making connections, and spreading arts integration throughout the school. The presenters of each session were mater arts integration specialists who, where extremely knowledgeable, and engaging teachers.
I also met an amazing network of teachers who share the same passion for teaching children and the arts as I do. There were attendees from all over the United States, and even some from Mexico and Puerto Rico. I spoke with other teachers from schools who are just starting out with arts integration like my school, as well as teachers from schools who have been implementing arts integration for years. What is amazing about this conference is that it doesn’t matter what level of arts integration you, or your school is on, there are so many amazing ideas that can be taken away from this conference.
One of the highlights of my experience was getting to see the “Sound of Music” musical on stage at the Kennedy Center Opera House. I am so thankful for the Any Given Child initiative for investing so much into arts education for children, and for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. It was such a wonderful and memorable learning experience, and I can’t wait to share what I learned with other staff members at my school.