George Lucas Educational Foundation

Schools That Work | Practice

Glenview Elementary

Grades K-5 | Oakland, CA

Partner with Local Arts Organizations

Partnerships with local arts organizations can bring much-needed resources to your students without much cost, and can provide students with new outlets for creativity and ways to develop essential critical thinking and collaboration skills. Explore more resources from this school.
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Partner with Local Arts Organizations (Transcript)

Natalie Walchuk: Art is so powerful in a school community. It’s a place where children can find expression for their deepest emotions or just the fun and silly ones, and it’s a quick, easy space for kids to find a way to talk and communicate with each other.

At Glenview we partnered with local community artists to support social-emotional learning, communication, conflict resolution and to help students build partnerships across boundaries. When we looked at our data we found that we had challenges with girl relationships. A lot of our time was being spent resolving them, so we reached out to Allison Kenny who brought us Girl Power to help solve all of our girl-friendship issues.

Allison Kenny: This game is called “Yes!” What’s it called?

Students: Yes!

Allison Kenny: Because in Go Girls we practice saying “Yes!” to the things that are fun and the things that we can do to feel good about ourselves.

Natalie Walchuk: We found great success with our Girl Power program so we expanded to Kid Power. We brought it into the classroom for every student, girls and boys, during the school day.

Allison Kenny: This is what our kid power can help us do. Okay. Show me your trashcan.

Natalie Walchuk: The Kid Power trashcan is a tangible way for kids to manage hurtful words and throw them away to keep their hearts safe.

Allison Kenny: I love it. Okay, I’m just pretending. Here we go. You’re stupid. Catch it, throw it away, hand on your heart, say, “I am--”

Student: I am so nice.

Allison Kenny: Give him a round of applause.

Natalie Walchuk: Communication skills are taught through our Art Without Judgment class. It’s taught by Jahi, our resident artist, and it helps students learn how to give feedback in respectful ways to their peers.

Jahi: Today we’re gonna work on our language. And the language we want to work on are “Wows” and “wonders”.

Natalie Walchuk: Jahi’s students are thinking critically when they reflect on each other’s work. They offer an affirmation first and then a critical question to keep everyone digging deeper.

Student: I wonder why Cameron crossed his out?

Jahi: You know, I wonder that, too. To make it a snowflake. Michaela, here’s my wow for you. Wow I like the frame of it and I wonder who’s that?

Student: I think you did a good job.

Student: I think you did, too.

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Encourage Self-Confidence and Creative Expression

Partnerships with local arts organizations can be formal or informal and can occur in school or after school. They can include anything from teaching artists in the classroom, to after-school theater productions, to visual art instruction.

Arts organizations can bring much-needed resources to your students without much cost, and can provide students with new outlets for creativity and ways to develop essential critical thinking and collaboration skills.

Glenview Elementary School, certain gender-based behaviors were getting in the way of learning. As a result, Glenview partnered with two organizations: 51Oakland, a local nonprofit that supports music and arts education, and Glitter and Razz, a nonprofit that teaches SEL skills to girls through creative play. These organizations developed programs to help improve collaboration skills within and across gender lines.

How It's Done

Implementing Arts Partnerships 

Developing partnerships with local arts organizations can provide an opportunity for artistic expression, while helping to solve issues that affect school culture. At Glenview, artist-in-residence, Jahi, encourages cultural awareness, self-confidence, and critical thinking through music, art, and poetry. They also partner with Glitter and Razz, a local children's theater and arts group, to develop drama-based programs to help students deal with bullying and peer conflict. 

Find the right organization for you.

  • Identify your school’s specific needs.
  • Establish a clear vision of what the school and the organization want the partnership to accomplish.
  • Focus your goals. Don’t try to do too much; pick two things and do them well.
  • Have an assessment plan in place to track and quantify impact.
  • Make the program as student driven as possible.

Reduce conflict through theatre: Dramatizing conflict and allowing students to role-play different situations can teach healthy conflict resolution.

  • Create skits and plays focused on peer conflicts that are common among your particular population of students (consider age, gender, demographics, etc.).
  • Work with both mixed- and single-gender groups to address the kinds of issues that are unique to each.

Teach collaboration skills by creating and critiquing each other’s art. Discussing art can also teach students how to communicate without judgment.

  • Have students work in a largely unstructured space that supports play, cooperation, and conversation.
  • Focus conversations on issues of diversity to help students learn to respect differences.
  • Use “Wows and Wonders” such as, “Wow, this makes me think about...” or “I wonder why the artist made this choice,” to help teach how to critique art in a respectful way.

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