A school, a bare wall, a concept, a pandemic, a group of colleagues, and a Master of Arts in Social practice art and critical education. This was one of the most complex combinations, yet beautiful experiences of my life.
It started with a dissertation project, accompanied by a very enthusiastic school and a group of educators willing to give this socially engaged art project a go, in one of the most difficult times of our teaching career. The idea behind socially engaged art is to explore themes that are still in search of a window where they can be debated. Our project was about self-development, and some of the themes discussed were emotional intelligence, mindfulness, resilience, and creativity.
Through these gatherings, that took place weekly, we explored how we could find ways of growing together as a team in various aspects of our personality and reflected on how these could help us to become better persons, colleagues, and educators. The project also happened to come about in a very difficult time because we were experiencing a global pandemic. As much as this brought difficulties, like online sessions and other limitations, it also came at the right moment, when we all needed it the most! We shared a beautiful and meaningful experience in which I believe was a big learning curve for all of us. As a result of these gatherings and the data we collected, we came up with the idea of a mural and a small community garden that reflects and informs the viewer of important themes that are an integral part of a well-functioning school community. Through this project we were given a voice, therefore we explored and had the opportunity to share our talents.
In so doing, we found very deep connections between us, that helped us move forward in such a challenging period. Educators have great potential and projects like these bring out hidden abilities that can boost one’s self-confidence, as well as provide a service to the school community other than teaching. Having a consistent personal development plan for educators would also provide educators adequate support for their well-being, and this results in a better teaching and learning experience for us as well as our students. This is an ongoing project. We are still embellishing the area with mural art and plants and we will keep you updated about our progress in this creative journey in the near future.