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IMPORTANT: Please see our COVID-19 Updates

Updates for the 2021-2022 Virtual Working Groups will be coming soon!

Register for a Working Group Below

El Sistema USA is thrilled to enter its second year of the El Sistema USA Virtual Working Groups, groups designed to gather El Sistema USA leaders and Teaching Artists together both virtually and in-person to discuss critical topics.

What are the Working Groups?

The Working Groups are communities of El Sistema leaders & Teaching Artists bound together by a common interest in a particular topic. The groups provide spaces for open conversation, shared learning, and have the explicit goal of developing toolkits and deliverable takeaways for the field.

Led by facilitators in the field, these groups offer leaders, administrators, and teaching artists the chance to gather online to share resources, hear from external speakers, and challenge each other to solve common problems.

In addition to meeting virtually, the resources, notes, and recordings generated from these groups will be available online for all members. In January, at the National Symposium, each group will have a chance to participate in a Deep Dive to further discuss their topics and goals.

What are the topics of the Working Groups?

The 2020 – 2021 El Sistema USA Working Groups are:

  • Equity Centered Pedagogy
  • Third Friday Forums
  • Public School Partnerships
  • Chief Executives Forum

How can I get involved or join a Working Group?

The El Sistema USA Working Groups are currently open to all staff of El Sistema USA Member organizations. Each group will meet every other month starting in September of 2020 through Zoom Video Conference. In addition, the 2021 El Sistema USA National Symposium will host a Deep Dive Space for each group to further their conversations in-person.

Are you interested in learning more?

Read more about each group below and register below!

Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group

Focus:

In order to promote holistic child development, we need teacher development that provides space to consider social emotional learning, culturally responsive pedagogy, supporting all learners, and striving for musical excellence. The focus of the Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group will be to curate experiences and conversations centered around this work with the explicit goal of developing conversations, toolkits, and resources to assist teaching artists in El Sistema-inspired programs.

Click here to access a list of Anti-Racist and Equity-Centered Resources developed by the Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group

2021 Meeting Dates:

February 5, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT

Building Structures of Belonging and Equity: Pillars of a Healthy Program Culture

This session is the first in a two-part series on building structures of belonging and equity within our El Sistema-inspired programs. In this session we will share our framework for a healthy program culture as a cycle with multiple access points. We will share broadly about each pillar and give a case study on how to delve deeply into one of them within your organization. This session will include individual and small-group reflection on how each of us can begin to build a healthy program culture at the access point that makes sense for us. Participants will leave the session with a practical template to guide this process in their own contexts.

February 16, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT*

Building Structures of Belonging and Equity: Pillars of a Healthy Program Culture 

This session is part two of our series on building structures of belonging and equity within our El Sistema-inspired programs. In this session we will the key elements (pillars) or holistic teaching practices, including curriculum, instruction, student voice, and more.  We will share broadly about each pillar and give a case study on how to delve deeply into one of them within your organization. This session will include individual and small-group reflection on how each of us can begin to build holistic teaching practices at the access point that makes sense for us. Participants will leave the session with a practical template to guide this process in their own contexts.
*The second session is the second of two parts – but you do NOT have to have attended the first session in order to join the second!
This session will be a part of our National Virtual Symposium and Seminario taking place February 15 – February 19, 2021. To attend, please register for the Symposium below.

April 30, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT 

Decentering Dominant Culture in Curriculum and Developing Student Voice in Teaching Practice

As educators striving to work toward equity, we know that it’s not just about what we teach, it’s about how we teach it and how our programs are structured as well. Based upon this principle, our working group has been developing a framework for Building Structures of Equity and Belonging. This session will be a deep dive into two key pillars within this framework: the first pillar explores how we can decenter the dominant Eurocentric culture within our curricular choices, while the second pillar delves into strategies for developing student voice and ownership in the classroom. Join us to hear case studies from several presenters and engage in reflection and discussion!

July 23, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT 

Therapeutic Tools for Transition: Inner Work and Classroom Strategies for Connection

2021 has been a year of tumult and transition for many of us: whether shifting between in-person and virtual instruction, processing the the pandemic in our own lives and those of our students, or navigating conversations around racial injustice and anti-racism work, teachers in our field have encountered transitions and traumas that have left many of us feeling depleted. This session will focus on developing therapeutic tools for teachers during this time of transition. We will be guided by a certified Professional and Community Coach to learn about building tools to help us cultivate our own mental health and stay grounded in order to bring our best selves to our teaching practice.  Join us!

Guest Speaker:

, El Sistema USA

Nicole Bauman

Nicole is a Midwest-based queer parent steeped in the sacred work of facilitation, transformative justice, somatics, and Nonviolent Communication. They see building conflict resiliency as an essential part of living…

read more

Click here to access past webinars in the store:

Facilitators:

, El Sistema USA

Monique Van Willingh

ESUSA Board Member and Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching, Longy School of Music of Bard College

, El Sistema USA

Christie Gray

Executive Director, Sistema Toronto

, El Sistema USA

Hillary Harder

Program Director, ECoSistema, Goshen College

, El Sistema USA

Holly Shogbesan

Music Educator – Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, CA

, El Sistema USA

Cecille Elliott

Director of Creative Play, BRAVO Oregon

Third Friday Forums

Focus:

An open forum for Members to come together to share challenges, lessons learned, and offer suggestions to one another to help solve problems and build the capacity of our organizations, teams, and communities. Designed to be an informal learning/sharing forum for Executive Directors, Program Directors, and overall program leadership. Facilitated by Anne Henry and Jessica Altfillisch and supported by members of the committee, participants will engage with one another in open discussion, with a predetermined topic for each meeting. Meeting topics and schedule outlined below.

2020-2021 Meeting Dates:

October 16, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Back to School

  • In returning to school/ programming, what went well and what didn’t?
  • What are your expectations for the transition from Fall to Winter in preparation for a COVID19 resurgence?
  • If you hosted in-person sessions, how did it go? What have you learned?
  • How are you addressing screen-time burn-out?

November 20, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Evaluating Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning

NO DECEMBER THIRD FRIDAY FORUM

January 15, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – El Sistema Evolution: Start-Up to Maturity to Impacting Systems

February 16, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT – 2021 ESUSA National Symposium and Seminario

This session will be a part of our National Virtual Symposium and Seminario taking place February 15 – February 19, 2021. To attend, please register for the Symposium below.

March 19, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Sustainability and Long-Term Financial Stability

Part I: Administration

Join us as we share our own fundraising practices to date and explore the possibilities of community-centric fundraising in the context of long-term sustainability.

1. What has our fundraising looked like? Overall strategy, particularly successful campaigns, etc.

2. What do you see as the difference between donor-centric and community-centric fundraising in your own practice?

3. In a community-centric fundraising model, how do we define and ensure “sustainability?”

Click HERE for an article to start thinking.

 

April 16, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Sustainability and Long-Term Financial Stability

Part 2: Program & Curriculum

This will be the second part of the Sustainability and Long-Term Financial Stability series. We will have a roundtable discussion with three guests: Andres Tucci Clarke (Sistema Toronto), Rey Ramirez (Soundscapes) and Trina Christensen (Sistema Utah). They will be sharing how their programs utilize SEL learning in their curriculum and tips on how to create curriculum for your own programs.

May 21, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

This will be a continuation of last month’s SEL conversation. Topics to be covered include:

  1. What SEL topics do you teach?
  2. Is SEL implicit, explicit, or both in your curriculum?
  3. How do you mark the difference between SEL that will support equity and anti-oppression in your classrooms?

Click here to access past webinars in the store:

Facilitators:

, El Sistema USA

Anne Henry

Co-Founder & Executive Director, Soundscapes (Newport News, VA)

, El Sistema USA

Jessica Altfillisch

Kirkwood Community College & Executive Director, Harmony School of Music – Cedar Rapids, IA

Committee Members:

  • Norma Nuñez-Ruch, Allentown Symphony Orchestra
  • Carol Minter, Soundscapes (Newport News, VA)
  • Lorrie Murray, Bay Area Music Project
  • Yuki Namata Resnick, Buffalo String Works

Public School Partnerships Working Group

Focus:

Many El Sistema-inspired organizations have an interest in partnering with their local public school system. Forming an effective partnership has many considerations including what makes an effective partner, how to scale the partnership, reasons to enter into a partnership, as well as the benefits for both the El Sistema-inspired organization and the public school. This working group will provide a space to discuss the benefits and challenges of public school partnerships. In addition, the group will work towards the explicit goal of working to create a partnership template that can be adapted and used by organizations across the country.

2020-2021 Meeting Dates:

September 25, 1-2:30 pm EDT – Back to School: How do you take the chaos and make it into something productive?

Facilitators Kaitlyn Korogy (Community Opus Program Manager, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory) and Nick Skinner (Director of Operations, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids) will lead a discussion and break out sessions on what programs have been doing to plan for going back to school with their school partners, now that we’re back what is really working and what’s not, and what can we put in place now to prepare for the future?

November 6, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

An open discussion and problem-solving session where Baltimore’s OrchKids acts as a case study for El Sistema programs and public school partnerships. Questions and issues include:

-How is communication going, what are the pitfalls, how do you respond?

-Budget cuts are anticipated for the Spring and next school year, how do you prepare?

-The Principals and district leaders may have different ideas about how to operate school partnerships – how do you decide with whom to partner?

December 18, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

Focusing on Successes

An open discussion and exploration of the Tocando Music Project as a case study for successes in El Sistema programs and public school partnerships during COVID-19.

January 29, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

What are public school partners considering as they prepare to fund and prioritize in this coming year? We’ll hear from a Baltimore City Public School principal and have an open discussion on their approach to planning through an examination of the political, public health, and curriculum challenges that many districts face in the 2021-22 school year.

February 16, 1:15-2:00 pm EDT

This session will be a part of our National Virtual Symposium and Seminario taking place February 15 – February 19, 2021. To attend, please register for the Symposium below.

March 12, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

April 23, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

Looking Ahead to Summer and Fall

Come share with each other your program plans as we explore potential programming for the 2021 summer and fall. How are you working with your school partner? What goals do you and your school partner have in common? OrchKids and Community Opus will start the conversation by sharing their struggles and potential plans.

June 11, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

Ignite the Heart of Your Program with a Fresh Start

How are you bringing your community back together? What programmatic elements are you planning on keeping from the past year as we transition back to in person? We will exchange ideas about how we are addressing student social/emotional issues, working with school partners on addressing academic challenges and how we will be reenergizing and rebuilding our programs.

Click here to access past webinars in the store:

Facilitators:

, El Sistema USA

Kaitlyn Korogy

Community Opus Program Manager, San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory (San Diego, CA)

, El Sistema USA

Nick Skinner

Director of Operations, Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids

Chief Executives Forum

Focus:

The Chief Executives Forum is a new, invite-only working group for CEOs or Program Directors of El Sistema inspired programs. This working group’s monthly meetings will consist of program leaders sharing and discussing insight from their experiences with the ultimate goal of strengthening their respective organizations, but also the alliance among El Sistema inspired programs.

2021-2022 Meeting Dates:

October 8, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

November 12, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

December 10, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

January 14, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

February 11, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

March 11, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

April 8, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

May 13, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

June 10, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

Facilitator:

, El Sistema USA

Elizabeth Moulthrop

Executive Director, Paterson Music Project

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