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    Singaporean Educators Experience Arts Education in Action
    Posted on 03/28/2018
    A teacher sits with students in the classroom

    Singaporean Educators Experience Arts Education in Action

    Classroom observation presents professional development opportunity for Seattle Public Schools art teachers.

    Teachers and students walk around the classroom looking at student artUpon entering Studio 205, Amanda Rengli’s art classroom at McDonald International Elementary School, you’d wonder for just a moment if you somehow found your way into New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

    Students pensively walk around desks in a gallery-crawl style, quietly observing the collages created by their peers. After some time for reflection, one-by-one, groups of four eagerly present their intentions behind their collaborative art to the class. In the back of the classroom, four women observe as the students share their pieces and receive feedback.

    On March 20, Rengli, along with arts educators at Nathan Hale High School, opened her classroom for the Singapore Teachers’ Academy for the Arts (STAR) study trip to Seattle Public Schools. The visit was facilitated by the Visual and Performing Arts Program and partnering schools.

    “We had some art teachers, from Singapore, come and see what arts [education] is like in our school,” teacher Rengli shares. “Having visitors to come in and see what you’re doing; it’s gratifying and really encouraging.” At Nathan Hale High School, host teachers Stefanie Arneson and Erin Shafkind welcomed six teacher observers. At the secondary level, the Singapore teachers experienced Art Survey, Photography, Ceramics and other classes and programs that exemplify Seattle Public Schools arts education in action.

    Through peer observation, the STAR study trip to Seattle Public School created an invaluable opportunity for district arts educators. Professionals were able to come together, collaborate and further enhance their professional excellence.

    A teacher sits with students to observe the classroomFinding Similarities Across Continents

    On an average week, Angie Chia sees 600 students in and out of her art classes. Chia is a visual arts teacher at a primary school (6 to 12-years old) in Singapore. She joined nine arts educators as they traveled around Seattle, examining private and public schools during the National Art Education Association conference.

    Chia reflects on her time observing Seattle Public Schools, “This is the first time we are visiting a public school. I think the [Seattle Public Schools] system is quite close to what we have in Singapore.

    “I’ve learned a lot from the counterparts here, a lot of lesson ideas I can bring back. And I also feel encouraged as an art teacher. I’m encouraged when I come here and see we’re still working at it, and we’re still believing that art does a lot of good for the holistic development of the child.”

    Teachers pose together for a photoKate Baker is the Seattle Public Schools Creative Advantage Project Manager for Media Arts. As a former arts educator at McDonald International Elementary School, she played an integral role in guidance for the Singapore teachers’ study trip. Her thoughts, “What surprised me most about the visit today was how much we have in common. We were able to talk about our given circumstances – both in Singapore and Seattle – and quickly discovered that many of the issues we grapple with day-to-day are the same: class size, schedules, assessment, classroom management, etc.”

    As of 2018, the Seattle Public Schools Visual & Performing Arts Program has opened 33 elementary music and visual art programs across the district as part of its Creative Advantage initiative, and the Creative Advantage team continues to develop new and exciting opportunities to connect students and educators to arts education.

    Read more about Visual and Performing Arts in Seattle Public Schools.

    Read more about the Creative Advantage initiative.