Adrianne Jones has revitalised teaching and boosted students’ engagement at Yeronga State High School through the creation of a large-scale, three-year project, called Y-Connect.
Y-Connect has investigated the impact of using artists and arts-based pedagogies to re-engage students, support their sense of connection and improve language, literacy and numeracy outcomes.
Y-Connect is the result of a four-year review of curriculum and a pilot program in partnership with Griffith University staff, employing creative and arts-based pedagogies for highly at-risk students in a range of curriculum areas. As a result of the success of the pilot, funding from the Department of Education’s Collaborative Innovation Fund was received to establish Y-Connect.
As project manager, Adrianne collaborated with Performing Arts staff, as well those in Creative Industries, English, English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) and Mathematics to revitalise their curriculum through embedding engaging, challenging and creative learning experiences.
For example, EALD Essential English units were re-calibrated to include best practice arts-based approaches that support deep learning and create an oral language rich classroom.
In Maths, Adrianne led a team of dance artists and Maths faculty staff to incorporate movement in the classroom and improve problem solving skills.
In Maths, Adrianne led a team of dance artists and Maths faculty staff to incorporate movement in the classroom and improve problem solving skills. Across this large-scale project, involving more than 30 professional artists and several notable Queensland Arts organisations (Opera Queensland, Circa Circus, QPAC, QTC, La Boite) there has been in total 783 arts education events, including 47 teachers, 548 classroom workshops with artists, 170 extra curriculum events, 35 performances and 16 excursions.
Adrianne demonstrated outstanding leadership, managing the relationships between teachers and artists and ensuring that all remained focused on the project goals.
Emerging findings indicate that the provision of opportunities for students to participate in creative, engaging and language-rich experiences through arts-based approaches, releases them into writing and enhances both vocabulary and fluency in spoken work.
Yeronga State High School’s 2017 and 2018 Year 9 NAPLAN results for writing showed significant improvement, within a broader pattern of decline. The project has also delivered a range of qualitative outcomes, including students reporting a stronger sense of connection, interaction and belonging; boosts in enjoyment and motivation; enhanced self-efficacy; and a greater willingness to ask questions. Teachers have also experienced numerous benefits.
This year Adrianne was awarded life membership of Drama Queensland for her commitment and advocacy to Drama teaching across the State.
She continues to push herself and is currently undertaking her PhD to further her understanding of the impact of arts education on identity formation for refugee students.
Adrianne undertook a 50-hour professional development course on Teaching ESL Students in Mainstream Classrooms. She then led a professional development program outside school hours for 80 per cent of the school staff.
This program and Y-Connect has supported less experienced teachers and allowed them to revitalise their units. They have even gone on to co-present keynotes at national and international conferences as part of teams that included Adrianne and university researchers.
Adrianne has now gained further funding to continue her work and achieve a legacy of outcomes that will ensure the sustainability of the project.
Congratulations Adrianne on your QCT Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award nomination.