Arts, Communities, Education
Arts, Communities, Education
– Christina Croce, Teacher, St. Lambert Elementary
Quebec’s English-speaking artists are diverse – they include professionals in craft, dance, folk, literary, media, music, storytelling, theatre and visual art disciplines. Many Quebec artists have developed the skills in facilitation needed to engage students and adults in opportunities to learn not only about their artistic practice, but also to learn in and through the arts.
Christina Croce (teacher):
The project “Tell Me Who You Are” was about the students exploring their past, present and future – to, finally a culminating activity that lead to an art installation in a village in St. Lambert.
Having an artist in the classroom and integrating it into my English class in particular has changed the way I teach English. The impact that it has on students is incredible in that they become more motivated.
You have students who don’t enjoy writing, who don’t enjoy reading, who don’t want to become engaged in English language arts activities. Having an artist in the classroom, suddenly there was this light inside them that lit up because they looked forward to coming to English. Yes, they had to do the reading. Yes, they had to do the writing. But suddenly the reading and writing had meaning because it was attached to something more tangible.
So they weren’t just writing a poem to write a poem. They were writing a poem that was related to their present selves that was then leading to this mailbox. Students would come to the door who would normally not be interested in coming to English class and be like, “Are we working on the project today?” You know, you suddenly saw this like, internal flame, this excitement.
It was really eye opening for me as a teacher because it made me realize that if there’s no meaning behind it, if the students don’t see a purpose in why they’re doing what they’re doing, then the effort they put in it, the details that they’ll add to it will be less than when the artist is not in the classroom – and the quality and the end product is much better.
Laura Teasdale (artist):
We took a group of children from three schools to visit a group of seniors from three seniors residencies. The student was paired up with a partner and together they would work on creating their art. When you work side-by-side, it’s much more natural and easy to speak and to get to know each other – the emphasis not only on creating the art together and taking a workshop in art but also their friendship and the growth of their relationship.
It’s incredibly important to link the past and the future and there are so many seniors who need grandchildren, in a way, and so many grandchildren who need grandparents – a need on the part of the kid and a need on the part of the senior to make connections with people outside of their own age and, in this case, it makes people feel beholden to something bigger than themselves and interested in something outside themselves. The past, the history of this person who was a woodcutter or used to be the mayor of the town… all those things spark the kids and, in the same way, the seniors are so energized by the kids and by caring about new people.
I think it hits on a lot of things in the curriculum especially if you do work toward having the kids write biographies of themselves so that they can present them to their partners. You can also have them interview their partners. But especially the principles of citizenship and community-mindedness.
I saw a lot of generosity on the part of the children and on the part of the seniors. By far the most touching thing to watch was the relationships grow. The art was beautiful, they made some beautiful things, but more than that was to see them be able to reach out to each other.
Creating art with community members by developing opportunities to experience the arts with others, creating together with students and/or other community members within or outside school time; and/or
Creating art for community members to develop awareness of the arts and potentially of themes related to community and/or global needs/issues by developing art installations, performances, vernissages, etc.
When artists work with students, educators have opportunities to see their students differently, noticing strengths that are highlighted as the creative process enables students to be innovative, imaginative, even courageous. Having an artist in the classroom has been shown to increase student motivation and improve individual and class behavior, positively impacting relationships between teachers and students and among students. By collaborating with artists to design and facilitate learning experiences through the arts, teachers provide students with opportunities to develop their competencies and connect with subject matter in ways that can be evaluated.
Helen Morency (CLC Coordinator): Being isolated and in a remote area, sometimes the opportunities are not available for our kids, like to experience different things for a longer period of time. So the school board has a database of artists and things that they pick from, and sometimes we don’t even get to pick who comes to our school, they just send someone – and that person is usually only here for like an hour, two hours maximum. With this project, the great thing about it was that they spent six weeks here. It gave the students more of an opportunity to experience things that they would not.
Stacey Christodoulou (artist): What I did was a six-week theatre performance workshop and I helped the kids here do a presentation at the end of the six weeks.
Helen Morency (CLC Coordinator): She taught them how to project their voice in a way so that everyone could understand and hear. She taught them movement, a little bit, about being less self-conscious.
Stacey Christodoulou (artist): One of my goals was to incorporate their history through their personal stories. So what we did is we did some theatre exercises, we talked about performance. The two groups were very different and one had a whole play that they constructed about the history of Chevery and the group had more personal vignettes of their time in Harrington Harbour.
Helen Morency (CLC Coordinator): Angela’s project in 2018 was a haiku book with haikus, photos and drawings created by our students. Multiple grade levels and teachers were involved with both schools. Angela spent one to two classes per week with each group teaching the different forms of Japanese poetry. Our students became very proficient at creating haikus thanks to Angela.
Angela Leuck (artist): I taught primarily Japanese short-form poetry, but some of the other students were quite talented as writers and I was really happy to have met a couple of very exceptional students that I hope I managed to get them a little further along the path toward writing.
Helen Morency (CLC Coordinator): There was a celebration in each school where students and Angela shared what they had created with the community. It was an amazing project that was enjoyed by students, teachers, and I think Angela. Hopefully we will get to continue with this project into year three.
In 2016, the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) received funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage to explore how ELAN could work strategically with Arts, Community and Education partners to increase cross-sector connection and collaboration long-term. Check out our recap of the 2016-2018 ACE Initiative learning experience with highlights of the five test projects below.