Editor’s Note: Mary Kelly is the Executive Director of the Association of Florida Teaching Artists (AFTA) — an association of fine arts, literary arts, and performing arts professionals who also teach. She has over 30 years of experience instructing students at pre-k through college levels, consulting and facilitating for private and nonprofit organizations, providing customized instructional materials and implementing arts-integrated related programs.
In May of 2016, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading held a Mind in the Making (MITM) Facilitator Institute for 27 individuals from 13 different agencies in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Since then, these facilitators have been presenting Mind in the Making’s Seven Essential Skills Training Modules to over 375 people throughout the Suncoast region. Due to demand, a second Mind in the Making Facilitator Institute was held in February of 2017, raising the number of local facilitators to 50.
Team Jade consisted of English and Spanish speaking parents, caregivers, and arts educators who participated in the eight-week Mind in the Making workshops at Tuttle Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. The sessions were interpreted with the help of a translator who spoke through a device while the participants used headsets to listen. Also in attendance was a Spanish speaking parent who helped with the translations.
Mind in the Making workshops gives participants a greater understanding of how the executive functioning of the brain starts at birth and explains the seven essential life skills every child needs. The seven essential life skills are focus and self-control, perspective taking, communication, making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges, and self-directed, engaged learning. These are skills that help children of all ages become better students and are beneficial throughout life.
The number one goal for the Spanish-speaking parents from Team Jade was to learn English. One of the caregivers was a foster parent and a caretaker to six children. She wanted to understand how to provide the best educational help for each child.
Two of our participants were artists — visual and literary— they suggested activities that would help build the seven essential skills:
We would like to thank the participants for their commitment, time and creative energy during these workshops.