As part of its resource guide released last week, Arts Ed NJ listed eight key principles that it said school administrators should consider in the fall. The key principles are as follows:

Sequential Arts Education Must Return for All Students in All Instructional Models.

As defined by the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in the Visual and Performing Arts and reaffirmed with the June 2020 adoption of these standards by the New Jersey State Board of Education and outlined in the Learning Acceleration Guide, sequential arts learning aligned to standards must be maintained regardless of the instructional delivery models (in-person, hybrid, or in the event health consideration require, remote).

Proper Staffing and Support Must Be Provided to Allow Continuity of Instruction Based on Health and Safety Requirements.

Arts education programs will require the proper staffing and support to ensure continuity of instruction. This includes maintaining certified arts educators to provide sequential instruction, materials and supplies to allow for the instruction based on health and safety requirements, recommendations, and best practices.

Arts Educators and Administrators Must be Included in the District Planning.

Arts educators and arts administrators have been closely reviewing and staying up to date on all of the latest research, strategies, and best practices both nationally and internationally. The collective knowledge will be a critical asset to school administrations and board members as they prepare to open schools this September.

Schools Must Prioritize the Making and Creating of the Arts Together. 

While there are many aspects of arts education that have been successful in remote environments there is one very critical aspect that was not: creating dance, music, theater or visual art together. This is what students identified as missing the most when they were suddenly out of their schools. As districts return, when the students are in school, the emphasis should be placed on creating artistic works together.

Social and Emotional Learning Needs of Students, Faculty, and Staff Must be Addressed in All Aspects of Instruction. 

As outlined in the Learning Acceleration Guide, conditions for learning must address “social and emotional and environmental factors that can impact educators’ capacity to teach and students’ capacity to learn.” Arts education plays a critical role in supporting the social and emotional needs of students. Schools should be intentional so that educators are prepared to successfully embed transformative social and emotional learning into culturally responsive instructional practices in the arts.

Schools Must Address Learning Delay and Disruption in Arts Education. 

The New Jersey Department of Education’s Learning Acceleration Guide specifically identifies the need to address learning needs in all NJ Student Learning Standards content areas, including the visual and performing arts. Resources, including those available from the state and federal government (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund), should be provided to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the visual and performing arts.

Professional Development Must be Provided. 

To be most effective in the new environments when our schools reopen, our educators must be afforded every opportunity, and necessary resources, to engage in professional development in relevant areas to engage in meaningful instruction.

New Jersey Cultural Community Resources Should be Used for Instructional Support. 

New Jersey’s cultural organizations play a critical role in the education of our students. From assembly programs, field trips, artist residencies, and collaborative projects these organizations provide extended educational experiences in the arts, as well as other core content areas. As our schools reopen, they should look for appropriate opportunities for cultural organizations to continue to contribute to the educational landscape.

The full resource guide can be found here.

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