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ERIC Number: EJ850379
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0276-928X
Collaboration Takes Center Stage: Interactive Teaching through a Schoolwide Focus on the Performing Arts Leads to Dramatic Improvements in Learning
Williamson, Jeff; Zimmerman, Diane
Journal of Staff Development, v30 n3 p38-42 Sum 2009
In the Old Adobe Union School District in Petaluma, California, the school staff's goal is to assure that all teachers make the fundamental shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric thinking. For them, this is what distinguishes great teachers from good teachers. They believe this level of expertise takes years to develop and that schools play an important role in assuring that all teachers become expert and that all teachers learn to bring their students to a higher level of understanding. Before Principal Jeff Williamson's arrival at Old Adobe Elementary School, the teachers had committed to integrating the visual and performing arts into their curriculum and had purchased a Yamaha music lab. In his first year as principal, Williamson focused his energy on getting the lab running and on helping teachers feel comfortable with this complex technology. At the same time, the Old Adobe Union School District Board of Trustees asked each school in the district to develop a guiding question that would serve as a focal point for school improvement efforts. Williamson and his staff framed a guiding question that would shift their focus from things and activities to student learning and teacher beliefs that guide their actions. The staff asked, "How can we offer a well-rounded curriculum integrating the visual and performing arts in every classroom, and verify that this benefits students?" Overnight, the emphasis shifted from conducting activities in a technology lab to engaging in deep discussions about performing arts processes and how they could be used to engage the hearts and minds of children. Two years later, the staff knows this singular focus on the arts pushed the teachers and principal to think more deeply about the cognitive demands and complexity of teaching and learning. They call this level of expertise panoramic outcomes, where educators maintain a constant focus on sophisticated outcomes for the learner and the collaborative expertise and shared vision needed to get there. The cumulative result of the Old Adobe School functioning as a learning community while infusing the classroom curriculum with the arts is evident throughout the school. Examples of increased student learning abound at Old Adobe School. Teachers see evidence in student writing, student presentations and performances, and students justifying their thinking as a routine part of classroom discussions.
National Staff Development Council. 504 South Locust Street, Oxford, OH 45056. Tel: 513-523-6029; Fax: 513-523-0638; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California