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NESA Performing and Visual Arts Collaborative Connects Arts Educators
When it comes to professional learning communities, arts teachers often find themselves flying solo. By Kaleroy Zervos 05-Jun-19
One of the most rewarding practices for any educator is collaborating with colleagues. Whether that is in developing curriculum, team teaching, or simply bouncing ideas off others when creating new lessons and units, having peers who are also experts in your subject area helps support teachers’ professional growth and mastery of their practice. Most international schools work hard to foster these professional learning communities for teachers, and many do a very good job at it. However, it is the nature of the arts as a subject that often leaves music, theatre, and visual arts teachers working alone to develop curriculum and seek out their own, specialized professional development. Often working in isolated departments within schools, with usually one specialist per section, arts educators have a hard time connecting with their colleagues. Knowing this, in 2017 the NESA Performing and Visual Arts Collaborative Core was formed with the objective of connecting international arts teachers in the region and beyond to share, support, and inspire one another. Matt McGrady at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, Heather Meinen at Riffa Views International School, Klara Hermanek at the American School of Doha, and myself at the American School of Bombay all came together to advocate for the importance of the arts for students, teachers, and our school communities. We view the arts as an avenue for creative personal realization, a connector to culture and history, and as a means to achieving the wellbeing of all. We aspire to provide arts teachers with opportunities for collaboration and learning by connecting colleagues around the world. Quite a lofty aspiration considering most art teachers are in rehearsal or exhibit mode from August till June! So, we did the next best thing and turned to social media. Twitter was an easy first step, as many of us were already following the accounts of various education innovators and subject-specific topics using hashtags. Instagram was next, as the platform itself is designed to allow users to share images and videos. With these two channels as our main means of connecting, the challenge was then to devise a way for folks to find one another. And #NESArts was born. Over the past year or so, we’ve been posting to both platforms with this hashtag and inviting others to do the same. Arts teachers have been sharing examples of student work, successful lessons, upcoming shows, and posing questions for discussion on everything from standards-based assessment to using technology for auditions. In October of 2018, we held our first Twitter chat on creating success in the arts and look forward to holding more chats in the future. We’re bouncing ideas off colleagues from around the world and celebrating the successes of peers we’ve yet to meet in person. Our professional learning community for arts educators in international schools blossomed and suddenly – we weren’t so isolated anymore. Kaleroy Zervos has been the Middle School Theatre Teacher at the American School of Bombay since 2012. She has previously taught in Colombia and Cyprus, and has immersed herself in the exciting theatre scenes in each. You can follow her on Twitter @KaleroyZ and on Instagram @KZTheatre.
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