By Michelle Turner, BVP Art Director and Middle School 1 Art Teacher.

Collaboration: “working with others to do a task and
achieve shared goals.”

Seems to be a
pretty straightforward definition, right?

As an adult, how often do you collaborate with others? Were you prepared to work with others in the “real
world?” For many of us, we didn’t have
many (or any) opportunities in school to learn how to work with others, leaving
us to figure it out as working adults. Collaboration, or group work, plays such a
large role in today’s workplace that it is essential we teach it in school,
even in kindergarten. Here at BVP, we
focus a fair amount of teaching and learning on collaboration as part of our mission to prepare scholars for college and the workplace.Perhaps author Terri Tempest Williams pushes our thinking
about the true benefits of collaboration best by saying, “Imaginations shared
create collaboration, and collaboration creates community, and community
inspires social change.”


So if through a connected chain of
events, collaboration can lead to social change, then it takes on an even more
important role for our BVP community! If
our scholars are taught how to work together, what’s to stop them from changing
the world, one imaginative, collaborative idea at a time?

Recently, sixth grade scholars at Middle School 1 demonstrated
this very idea through a collaborative art-making journey. Under the direction of Rhode Island College student teacher in art,
Kayleigh Smith, they were introduced to Street Art, which is art created for
public spaces that typically convey a social message or idea. Their task was to design and create a set of murals
that express an idea, message or a life event.
Scholars worked in small groups to generate and combine ideas, plan
details of their mural, and choose media that best helped communicate their
message.

The most powerful piece of this task, however, was giving
them the autonomy to create goals and Artistic Habits of Mind. Scholars discussed next steps, decided who should own each piece of the work, and participated in small and whole group critiques.

Middle School Art Teacher and BVP Art Director, Michelle
Turner and Student Art Teacher, Kayleigh Smith with
BVP Middle School scholars and their murals.
We saw them make mistakes, disagree, and get frustrated, but
we also saw them eventually figure it out, make revisions to their plan when
necessary, and keep each other focused and engaged. This was collaboration at its purest and
finest, resulting in truly one-of-a-kind murals that will soon adorn the
transoms over our classroom doors, inviting viewers to pause and think about
the visual messages that collaboration actualized.

If you ever needed an excuse to visit, here’s your chance! I would be happy to show you our scholar’s artwork myself.