May 2016 with Paul Born

Welcome and Overview

Statewide & Regional Collaborations

Craig Cheslog welcomed everyone and opened the meeting by speaking to the importance of working together to engage creativity and the arts to accomplish the large-scale systemic changes we want to see in education. He began by talking about the statewide Create CA effort. Five leadership organizations joined together and committed to guiding this effort: California County Superintendents Education Services Association (CCSESA), California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE), California Department of Education (CDE), California Arts Council (CAC) and the California PTA.

While there is much work to be done, their accomplishments include working with existing initiatives to embed art education, i.e. Title I School funding; Local Control Accountability Plan; Turnaround Schools, and Common Core.

The Inspiring Creative Communities regional work in the Bay Area is essential to building public will and advancing this work at the local level while serving as a model for other communities across California. He is looking forward to working with Paul Born, whose guidance and expertise in Collective Impact approaches will help us learn together how to be more effective in our work over the next year.

Inspiring Creative Communities Campaign

Louise Music emphasized the role of the arts in addressing a wide spectrum of issues that impact students and the health of our community. The Unfinished Canvass SRI study supported by the Hewlett Foundation revealed inequities in arts education—only 11% of California’s students have access to comprehensive art education and the schools that provide this are in low poverty schools where parents contribute supplementary funds to make arts education possible. Our campaign seeks to engage creativity and the arts to provide each and every child with the opportunity to reach their full potential and is excited about what we can do together to achieve this goal.

New American Dream

Louise introduced Tassiana Willis, a dynamic young spoken word artist, as a thought partner providing a critical youth perspective, leadership and connections. Addressing the need for a new American Dream, Tassiana delivered a powerful performance, speaking to our core purposes and animating the collective energies of the room. 

Why Collective Impact?

Louise introduced Paul Born, our collective impact guide. Paul is working with the Alliance team over the next year to support our efforts in creating a 5-year community plan with multiple partners committed to implementing a common agenda and shared set of measures, coordinated by an sufficiently staffed and funded backbone organization.

Paul’s book Community Conversations (provided to all participants) is mobilizing ideas, skills and passions of community organizations, governments, businesses and people across North America. His impressive on-going work as President and Co-Founder of the Tamarack Institute is moving the needle on ending poverty in seven Canadian cities.

Art Matters. Paul began by telling stories of his personal struggle as a student, his entryway into learning through theatre and poetry, and his discovery of the arts as ways of knowing, thinking and contributing to the world. Art matters—it’s about transformation.

Collective Impact helps us rethink our strategies and asks us to develop

A Common Agenda – with a commitment to action—on-going, continually evolving  and growing.

A Shared Measurement System – dig deep into the data and use it to understand the work that needs to be done; coming up with 5-7 things that we all agree to measure in our work.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities – working together to implement the strategy. Everyone gets credit.

Continuous Communication
Backbone Structure – staff guides the process and coordinates.

Success depends on getting lost for a while. If we knew what to do, we’d already be doing it. To innovate as a collective, we need to let go and move to a space of unknowing first, to get to a place of collective knowing. We have mental models built through our experiences and understanding of the world that can cloud our vision. The goal is to suspend what we know for a while and listen. We need to move to a place of curiosity collectively. Collective innovation is where we find the truth. Community conversations are a key strategy.

Group Conversations

Paul engaged us in a series paired and small groups for a discussion of key questions, ending in a fishbowl conversation, where representatives from each table discussed key ideas.

Three-way conversation (talking with people you do not know, switching roles of speaker, listener, and interviewer in 5 minute segments): Why is it important that you are here today?

Table conversations (with note-taker and guide):

What is happening now?   What is the system that is desiring change? How do we engage everyone in the system?
What changes do you want to see?
What can we do together?

See the Table Notes document (in the works) for more information on these conversations. 

Fishbowl conversations – 7 people in the center talking and responding to Paul’s questions. Prompts are followed by conversation highlights below.

What woke you up?  

Need for Healing. A need for healing across contexts of teaching and learning.   The work of drawing on multiple contexts will create different outcomes and can shift low aspirations of students through the arts—elevating worldviews, ideas, self worth and a sense of what is possible.
Space for Dialogue. People in the system need space for emotional expression, connection and conversation.
Get out of Silos. Dismayed surprise that the need to get out of silos is still a topic of conversation. It’s a hard job. There is some hope, but we need to bring people in and not just talk about it. Discovering new silos, we need to understand what silos are.  If we are to be successful, the people who benefit the most need to be in the room.
Community of Care. Love and care of students. We have to change the system—create purposeful things.   Passion is important and kids need to be cared for and build friendships in order to become more successful. How do you create a community of care? Arts often open the door.

What changes do we want to see?

Focus on Discovery Mindset. Curious to know what an education system might look like that wasn’t driven by specific purposes and instead assumes creativity and places a focus on nurturing the discovery of student interests and passions. An education system with a willingness to be present and open to what arises from people, rather than leading with expectations. Our current system awards conformity.
Reframe purposes. How do we see people for what they are actually doing? Meet people where they are. What do we do differently to make this happen? What does it look like? Reframing purposes to take care of self, each other and the planet—where people’s talents are supported to be applied towards these aims.
Broken System – Deconstruct/Reconstruct. Create space for educational professionals to engage in reflection to slow down, think, listen and see what they don’t know. Need to establish a safe space for conversation to delve into the issues and ourselves.
Mandate the Arts – Where Learners Create Content. Engage in teaching and learning dialogue with decision makers who allocate the resources and establish priorities. Students should not just be studying content, they should be creating it.
Humanize Education – Counter the fear of talking about love, healing, spirit and the things that make us human.

Big Ideas: What can we do together? Who are the unusual suspects who can help to drive our work? [Example: AIDS prevention strategy – nuns handing out condoms]

Schools as Community-Health Centers. Thinking of access to art as a public health issue and engaging the arts as a catalyst for community health and connection. Centers might include maker spaces and have cross-sector advisory teams drawing on the unique and diverse expertise and skills of neighbors (i.e. doctors, artists, engineers, environmentalists, gardeners, etc.) that could inform activities. Thinking of schools as sacred places and central hubs to engage the diverse assets of the community to ensure its health, well being and vitality.
Amplify Marginalized Voices: teachers, parents, students, incarcerated youth, etc. Organize within the community to develop new leaders, support candidates, get them elected and hold them accountable.
Engage Design Thinking Strategies. Conduct empathy interviews. Engage design thinking principles to collectively address challenges, prototype and create solutions.
Wise Elder Mentors. Like the Brotherhood of African American Elders who have successful lives and are now retired, concerned with youth and want to help.   Send members into school one day a month or week as exemplars to learn from—spreading care across generations. Draw on a wide spectrum of personalities, career types and experiences to engage believability of pathways and possibilities for success.
Shift Funding Paradigm. Bring organizations and community together to identify needs, set priorities and shape funding agendas.

Taking Action – Craig Cheslog & Louise Music

Craig is more energized and inspired after today’s conversations and appreciates everyone’s willingness to break out of the mold. Now we move into taking action in our daily lives. Louise reminds us that we have been working on these issues for a long time and that this is just the next step in the process.

Action Steps include:

Conversations in the Community. We have a leadership roundtable and staff team guiding our efforts, who are committed to going into neighborhood spaces to engage conversations and gather ideas from a cross section of people, i.e. youth, funders, district attorneys, parents, scientists, doctors, teachers, elders, government agents, business leaders, etc.

Inventing our Future Summer Institute: August 9-11 at Chabot Science Center.

The theme for this year is Re-Storying Our Common Humanity with a focus on storytelling.   We encourage you to register and help spread the word.

Individual Acts! Please complete the action form on the back of your agenda to let us know how you would like to contribute to this effort and what you are interested in doing, i.e. hosting a community conversation, being on the listening team or data team. Please add your own ideas for actions not included on the form.

Teacher of the Year Perspective – Randy Porter

Karen Monroe introduced honoree OUSD music teacher Randy Porter and Louise Music asked him to respond to many of the questions we’ve been considering.

Why does music [the arts] matter?  

 Randy began by talking about how Oakland Symphony Conductor, Michael Morgan, comes into his class several times a year to conduct the orchestra. “Could I do that?” one of the students asked. One thing led to another and he was invited in to a California Shakespeare audition by Berkeley Rep and was cast in Macbeth as a performer of violin and an actor.

Elaborating on this example, Randy said that through the arts, students get a chance to explore and learn new languages. The arts create multiple pathways for students and can prepare them for many things, including leadership and management. He believes that the arts are a right, not a privilege—an issue of equity. Under Phil Rydeen’s leadership, OUSD is growing arts education opportunities, with music at 70 schools.

What is the change you’d like to see in education?

 Randy offered several ideas:

Authentic equity. Some students need one on one adult support. Randy explained that in his music classes there is a 1:70 ratio.   There is a need to begin with students who are most challenged.

School redesign. Getting beyond competitive relationships with charter schools vs. public schools. He doesn’t believe in art magnet schools, as all schools should have excellent art programs. One example is the Castlemont Choir, infamous for its national tours.

What can we all do together?

Randy very much likes the idea of the Brotherhood of Elders introduced by Carl Anthony.   Volunteers from the community in the schools make a real difference and help to settle a community. The rough and tumble schools of Oakland are becoming more segregated. Bringing retired folks into classroom and actively recruiting volunteers should be the first action step.

Closing thoughts—there should be many Teachers of the Year! Randy commended and thanked his colleagues for their commitment and hard work.

Closing Circle – Individual and collective thanks!

Carolyn Carr