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The Learning of the Fellowship

Erik Holmgren, Program Manager

Dr Bettina Love leading a session with META Fellows in 2018.
Dr Bettina Love leading a session with META Fellows in 2018.

The META Fellowship, a partnership between Mass Cultural Council and The Klarman Family Foundation, is the first program of its kind to convene a statewide community of music educators and teaching artists.

In an effort to make the learning of the Fellowship more broadly available, we are pleased to announce that the META Fellowship web site is now live. The site contains resources that were created to meet shared needs in classrooms throughout the Commonwealth and a list of professional development opportunities that Fellows utilized during the pilot program. As the second cohort of Fellows complete their Fellowship, more resources and tools will be added.

Second Cohort is Underway

From September 2016 to August 2018, Mass Cultural Council and The Klarman Family Foundation piloted a two-year professional development program focused on music educators and teaching artists from across Massachusetts. After a rigorous evaluation process the program was fully implemented in the Fall of 2018 with 57 new Fellows.

The goal of the META Fellowship Program is to strengthen the youth music training pathway by:

  • Enhancing the practice of music educators/teaching artists and their impact on youth, and
  • Developing stronger connections between music educators/teaching artists and greater awareness of the resources available to benefit the youth they serve.

To achieve these goals, the META Fellowship Program has five primary components:

  • Four learning sessions per year for entire cohort of Fellows
  • Two site visits by Fellows to the programs of other Fellows
  • Professional/Artistic development grants of up to $3,000 per Fellow
  • Group projects presented at a final showcase event
  • Annual stipends of $1,000 per Fellow for participating

The META Fellows

Fifty-seven Fellows are currently enrolled in the second cohort of the program. This second group differs from the first in a few key ways:

  • There is an increase in the number of in-school educators.
  • There is an increase in the number of Fellows who have 10 or more years of teaching experience, with four Fellows having more than 30 years.
  • The cohort entered the program with less familiarity and connections with colleagues in the field, heightening the need and value of peer learning.

Key Changes to the Program

According to an external evaluation of the META Fellowship Pilot, the most significant areas of impact for the Fellows as a result of participating in META were:

  • Increased connections to peers and the music educator community
  • Improved skills related to student voice and engagement, classroom management, and lesson and curriculum planning
  • Stronger sense and appreciation for themselves as music educators and as artists
  • Greater motivation and engagement with their teaching

As a result of this feedback, the primary changes to the program for the second cohort included:

  • Increase integration among program components – group convenings are used to share site visit and professional/artistic development grant experiences and more time was created in sessions for fellows to mine the experience in the room and connect to one another
  • The Showcase Projects were introduced at the end of year one, instead of the beginning of year two, to give Fellows more time to develop these valuable resources
  • Utilizing META Fellowship program application to improve communications related to expectations and commitment – The META Fellowship application included questions for Fellows about each component of the Fellowship, including initial brainstorms on potential grants, site visits, and project ideas. In addition to collecting basic data about each individual and their areas of teaching, the entire application was utilized to design Fellowship discussions and support Fellows individual learning arcs.

Looking Ahead

During their first year (2018-19), this cohort of Fellows participated in workshops with Eric Booth, Dr. Bettina Love, The BEST Initiative Youth Worker Training, and Liz O’Connor. In year two, the focus of the Fellows workshops will be divided between engaging with new content in research and practice, as well as having time to deepen connections to one another and develop essential resources for classrooms, communities, and other educators. Year two group sessions include:

  • October 7, 2019: Liz O’Connor ‘Mining the Fellowship Community to Solve Problems of Practice’
  • November 13, 2019: Dennie Palmer Wolf ‘Connecting Arts Education Research to Practice’
  • March 2, 2020: Riverside Trauma Center ‘Trauma-Informed Practice’
  • April 7, 2020: META Fellows showcase ‘Presenting New Resources for Classrooms and the Field’

The META Fellows Showcase will take place at the final session on April 7 at the New England Conservatory and will highlight the contributions this cohort are making to the field through their development of new tools and resources to be used in classrooms throughout Massachusetts.

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