Jazz, Democracy and You; An Impactful Opportunity for Educators, Check it Out

“I definitely learned about the impact of Jazz, but in a way I didn’t expect. I was thinking J&D would be more about how jazz movements gave way to greater democracy, but I think I learned about how current jazz standards or skills can be used as a framework to create/understand what an equitable democracy would look and feel like to those involved. I think this is even better than what I expected because this is applying jazz to our current world rather than a movement of the past.” – Audrey Arthur, Roosevelt Middle School, Oakland, CA

For over a decade Dr. Wes has been leading explorations and professional development in Jazz and Democracy for Bay Area educators.  And more importantly, the application window for this year just opened, please check out this amazing opportunity.

“Using music to get kids to seek and expect academic excellence for themselves.” -Dr. Wes

The Jazz & Democracy Project® (J&D) is offering up to 20 hours of professional development and 2 Continuing Education Units to 5th – 12th grade teachers who seek increased creativity and critical thinking in their classrooms. J&D’s Curriculum Think Tank will convene throughout the year at times scheduled by independent teachers or school teams. The training will not hand over a packaged curriculum, but will instead provide just enough structure so that teachers can adapt J&D materials and pedagogy to meet the needs of their students. After coaching from J&D Founder, “Dr. Wes,” teachers will role play a lesson of their own design, and everyone will submit two lesson plans to be shared across the full network of teachers. For an annual renewal fee, teachers will have continued access to both the growing library of lessons plans, plus J&D’s exclusive musician interviews. No musical experience is required. You only need to have command of both your classroom and subject matter, and possess a desire to integrate the arts into your Social Studies, History, Government, Civics, Humanities or Language Arts classes.

“For high achieving kids, J&D offers a different lens from which to interpret something they already understand well. For kids that struggle, J&D could be the missing link for connecting to complex curriculum.” – Ross Parker, Berkeley High School Teacher

Dr. Wes has been delivering J&D workshops and residencies in Bay Area schools for over 10 years. In that time, the program has become a reservoir of material agile enough to supplement a range of topics: The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, choosing a President, the role of Vice President, the 2nd Amendment debate, the Occupy Movement—all analyzed through the prism of jazz aesthetics. Alternatively, the first Curriculum Think Tank cohort saw immediate application for their classroom culture: they used J&D interviews about the inner workings of a jazz band to set the standard for their virtual classrooms last school year. These connections have even greater poignance as we return to the classroom—our metaphorical bandstand—where, like a good jazz musician, each student must play their own, unique role while supporting the music for everyone, i.e. , teaching and learning as a classroom unit.

J&D reaches children of all learning modalities by utilizing literary, aural, visual and kinesthetic activities. All of the J&D exclusive artist interviews are organized in manageable excerpts with accompanying transcriptions, allowing students to hear the musician’s voice and thereby aid in text analysis or “close readings”. Playing live performance videos, for example, and seeking students’ emotional responses first, helps everyone analyze how the musicians are working with and responding to one another. Then, with this visual and aural example, students are better able to identify behaviors that contribute to a constructive classroom, as well as the relationship and tension between the branches of government in our system of checks and balances. J&D also features live musicians in the classroom, and the Curriculum Think Tank (when possible) will train you how to work with live musicians to help students uncover important lessons on teamwork, developing expertise, and the relationship between power and compromise in a democratic system.

Whether you’d like a novel way to approach the tenets of American democratic ideals, or you simply want to offer mixed modalities in your teaching, J&D teacher training is for you. Please contact us about joining or forming a cohort today, and teachers who have found both the program itself, and the teacher training to be of great impact:

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