An Arc of Learning that Will Move You

antiracist education arts education culturally responsive teaching culture liberatory ed pedagogy school change studiopathways sustainingpractice Sep 01, 2022

I appreciated the role of art as a way to proceed, reflect and share my thinking and learning. What a powerful way to connect with students and adults! -Jen Hladun, Principal of Lincoln High School

Over the past two years, we have been working with schools and arts organizations through an arc of professional development that guides teachers and school leaders to activate systemic, cultural, and transformative change. We call the arc of our experiences "Do Your Lessons Love Your Students?" and The Art of Facilitation. 

We center creative processes to meet the ongoing needs of culturally responsive teaching and learning through the arts. We developed our first learning series in 2019 and are thrilled to see how teachers and schools have received and implemented pedagogical frames and methodology toward transformative learning. 

Our work combines cognitive science and responsive action toward building schools that love our students. We are eager to share it widely with our community of fellow educators like you! 

 Here's the Overview: 

  • What it is: A Professional Learning series offered live and online or as a filmed series. 
  • The more extended series, "Do Your Lessons Love Your Students?" is designed for the participant to work through visual and performing arts experiences, reflective questioning, and concepts that evolve stances on equity and social justice in education. 
  • Concepts covered in the "Do Your Lessons.." series are:
    • Introductions to integrating the visual and performing arts into learning
    • Links between patterns of harm and classroom practices
    • How culture and cognition are connected to the role of the arts 
    • Processes for thinking about identity, lineage, and intersectionality
    • Connections between historical racialized violence and ongoing structural bias found in our schools 
    • Understanding the role of "queering the curriculum" for cultures of inclusion
    • Understanding how implicit bias impacts our teaching and learning 
    • Actions that build school cultures of explicit belonging  
  • The shorter series is called The Art of Facilitation. It is a two-day intensive focused on supporting school leaders, teacher leaders, and org leaders in advancing education priorities through the knowledge of The Core Four: Power, Narrative, Lineage, and Embodiment as foundational concepts to employ in the development of school systems and structures.  

"I think the iterative nature of these is critical if we're really going to achieve the level of learning and systems change needed to really impact outcomes."- Nick Girimonte; Assistant Superintendent of Ed. Services in Dixon Unified 

If any of these experiences or outcomes could benefit you or your school community or a school or organization you are in connection with, we are here to invite you into our dynamic learning community. Join us! 


A teacher's response to moving through the series: 

The training was a beautifully woven online series, with language and ideologies around anti-racist work and how teachers can incorporate anti-racist practices into their curriculum and ways of being.  

As a new member to the staff, it was a really wonderful experience of working together and thinking through how to be critical and thoughtful and delving into harmful practices the current curriculum carries and how we can address that in the community. 

The training also helped to facilitate dialogue on an individual level to bring up subconscious bias and to help the group work through and heal together... and to really provide a space for listening and understanding that would not have otherwise been. 

I found the artistic processes in the series particularly intriguing, they moved us deeply and allowed a creative space for discussion. These artistic processes were also added to our toolkit as educators to be able to navigate difficult discussions in ways that felt creative and healing as opposed to harmful (and potentially causing opposition and not elevating the discussion).

-Kindergarten Asst. Teacher 


A teacher's response to working with Studio Pathways: 

Has working with Studio Pathways evolved your stance and implementation of culturally responsive teaching through the arts? How so?

Yes, my stance has evolved to seek out and find visual artist that also represent the student school demographic and broadening artist and to seek to find contemporary Latino, Filipino artists (moving beyond just Frida and Diego). Center "the artist's", to be each student being and sharing their work.

The Love Protocol has been the most profound learning, during the pandemonium of the health crisis a lot of only children were feeling isolated. I added to the Love Protocol the word "Self", and end all my sessions with a Self-Love Hug, whether in-person or on zoom - child or adult.

Most of the students I have been working with during my current residency love coloring, and sharing with them what they can do with differing art materials has brought them so much joy. Using Tempera Paint Sticks with wax paper as a simple printing techniques had heads exploding in wonderment.

In creating the Artist Journey w/sketchbook together with the California Standards and Social Emotional Learning guide to underpin these classes, there is room to always overlay elements of curriculum into art practice. Sometimes lines from a school themed poems as text rendering or comic strip / graphic novel as simple storytelling devices.

A large portion of my teaching is spent on the students doing abstract or figurative self-portraits, and we spend time talking about the story of our name, who gave it to us, what it means, our ancestors, family and community group where we feel belonging.

Thank you, Studio Pathways! 

-SFUSD Teacher and Artist