Saturday, May 12, 2012

Guest Blog: Tina Hislop Using Art Conversations to Converse about a School's Mission


It is always a pleasure to have a guest blog.  Tina Hislop is an assistant principal in Connecticut who is in a doctoral program at Western State University. I was a guest in her course this past February and taught a lesson about transmediation by introducing Tina and her fellow students to art conversations.  It was a lovely surprise to receive this guest blog from Tina a few week later.   Tina took the lesson I taught and applied it to her work as an administrator.  Specifically Tina used art conversations with faculty.  An art conversation is a nonverbal discussion that a pair or trio have using finger paint as the mode of expression. You can read more about the technique below and here, here, and here.

Guest Blog: Tina Hislop

We’ve all experienced a meaningful lesson that we are compelled to share with others in hopes to inspire others.   The transmediation experience with Mary Ann in February 2012 was one of those meaningful lessons that I wanted to share with my school.  As assistant principal on my campus, I introduced transmediation to my school leadership team comprised of grade level, special area and pupil service staff.   In efforts to give back, this blog entry is an account of this first introduction. 
 
Background

Our school reconfigured two years ago, and has a new leadership team to represent our new campus.  This new leadership team’s charge is to examine the direction of the school, ideally with an open mind along the way.  To this end, I introduced the value of transmediation using art to the school leadership team.  To illustrate transmediation, I used our recently created mission statement.  I set the scene by asking the team to consider their students—do they all learn the same way? Have the same strengths? Of course, the answer was “no.”  With multiple ways to communicate through gesture, picture, dance, we need to consider how to engage and reach all of our students.  The more connections we can offer students, the stronger understanding will be built.  Following the protocol of Mary Ann had shown us, I provided the following experience and at the conclusion the teachers participated and reflected.

Art Transmediation

I asked members of the school leadership team to build an art conversation in pairs using an active voice around our school mission statement.   The pairs and one triad were given finger paint: red, blue, green, yellow and black and one large sheet of art paper.  First I projected our school mission statement for all to read at their own rate as they made their own meaning and began their art conversation.  Next I created an iMovie with scrolling text with a man’s voice slowly reading the mission statementthe teachers continued to communicate through their fingers.  The iMovie continued with student pictures and a voice over of an adult and child who slightly struggles reading the school mission statement and finally again, the mission statement read by a student with more pictures of recent school activities and students. 

Reflection
An art conversation

The teachers could have continued much longer or I could have used smaller paper for the busy team that I yearned to inspire.  I hoped that they would consider this work as they plan their lessons to reach others and we would soon debrief.  The bright lights of the office turned on and as the teachers wiped their fingers the conversations ranged from one saying that this was a difficult assignment and that it reminds her how her students everyday have tough first grade work to start and how not knowing what the right answer is feels.  Another teacher talked how she is so bad at drawing, but the finger paint gave her some permissions.   We displayed the art conversations around the table and all stood to admire each.  First, we quietly made our own noticings and next each group shared out a description of their art conversation.  The groups shared reflections of the process and product of our work.  

Transmediation—art gleamings:
  1. Text meaning changes and grows as we internalize reading and hear the words. 
  2. The experience nurtures creativity.
  3. Sharing the communication process helps us value each others’ resources and talents.
  4. The Gallery walk experience allowed us to discover and value common themes and differences while building respect and respecting others’ thoughts.
  5. Art allows us to express thoughts in a healthy way.
  6. Art conversations are a fun type of learning.
  7. Art conversation are represent meaningful, hands-on work.  
  8. Everything has a place.
The seeds have been planted.  We’re building our bag of tricks or repertoire of practices to meet the needs of our students in our classrooms. 

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