Given the impact of COVID-19, student participation in the arts, particularly in arts programs like Reflections, is now more important than ever to help them process their thoughts and feelings. As many school communities will be learning remotely, National PTA supports and encourages our PTAs to run their Reflections programs virtually.

 

Try these tips, from PTAs across the country, on how to host a Reflections program online.

Program Promotion

Without a physical school building, you’ll have to get creative to promote Reflections! Use our theme and program materials to get started and try some of these ideas to get the word out:

  • Reach out to school and PTA leaders to learn the best methods for communicating with your school community. Be flexible, innovative and persistent⎯if something doesn’t work, don’t give up!

  • Create email campaigns to make a call for submissions and communicate key program dates and deadlines through social media. Don’t be hesitant to repeat information on multiple platforms. The more references people have, the more likely they are to connect with the program.

  • Connect with your school’s teachers and ask them to include informational flyers in their beginning-of-the-year materials for students.

  • Place signage on popular drive-by locations. Does your school have a fence? Consider decorating with theme-specific signs from Shop PTA. You can also use dollar store yard signs and DIY your own Reflections signage!

  • Consider tailoring your messaging to today’s world by highlighting the importance of the arts for students’ social-emotional needs.

  • Promote the program during virtual meetings. Use technology platforms your school community is already using to insert Reflections announcements, promotions and deadlines. Consider sharing links to materials and websites in the chat function.

  • Some parents have decided to home-school their students this year due to COVID-19, so don’t miss out on communicating with them. Work with your state PTA to learn about or create avenues for these students to participate in the program. Some state PTAs have ‘home’ school or community PTAs that offer member benefits, like Reflections participation.

Collecting Student Information and Entries

Make sure you are collaborating with your state PTA to ensure you are collecting pieces in a manner that will be accepted at the next levels of the program. For example, you’ll want to check that artwork can be submitted and reviewed virtually and that typed signatures on the Student Entry Form will be accepted at all levels. National PTA will accept all virtual entries from state PTAs.

  • Try using a fillable Student Entry Form (en español). If you intend to advance pieces to the next level of the program, make sure that the form you use is accepted by your state PTA.

  • Consider using Google Forms to collect student information and have students upload pieces to Google Drive. Many PTAs are choosing this method for the collection of pieces and find the platform user-friendly and robust, with plenty of storage. Create different folders for the arts categories and Special Artist division and label files consistently to stay organized.

  • Share your name, email address and phone number with your Reflections participants to assist with the technology needs that may arise. Be flexible in allowing entries to come via email or flash drives for anyone having trouble with the technology.

  • Offer a socially distanced art drop-off option if you do not wish to collect pieces virtually or choose a hybrid model. Use CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of your community.o 

    • Set up a mailbox or central location for drop off (e.g., the school, PTA leader home, central library or other public location).

    • Host a socially distanced and touch-free drop-off event. Provide a large window of time when artwork can be dropped off.

    • Encourage students to save and submit artwork onto jump drives in order to avoid storing larger physical pieces.

    • Provide clearly labeled and multiple bins for the artwork to ensure that the works can be dropped off with no-touch ease. Let the artwork sit for several days before handling.

Reviewing Student Entries

Once collected, the online review process will also require some creative thinking due to the important step of anonymizing the student submissions and providing judges with “blinded” pieces for review.

  • If you used Google Forms or Google Drive for collection, consider creating an anonymized Google Sheet that includes the student’s Title of Work, Artist Statement and a link to Google Drive storage place.

• Host a virtual judging event via Go to Webinar or Zoom, where your reviewers can learn more about the program and are trained to judge remotely. You could even try live judging with

  • Consider creating a new form for the judges that has the student’s Title of Work and ArtistStatement but removes the student’s personal information to ensure blind virtual judging. By using a fillable Student Entry Form, you can easily cut and paste this information. Give student entries a number or code to easily keep track of blinded forms.

  • If you choose to collect physical pieces, host a socially distanced review event with your judges at school or in a public location. Use CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of your community. Display works at a distance to ensure no-touch judging. Provide a large window of time when artwork can be reviewed.

Celebrating 

A remote program opens new opportunities to celebrate your amazing artists, and celebration events (even virtual ones!) give communities something fun to look forward to during these difficult times.

  • Plan, promote and communicate with your school community about your celebration events early and often to get everyone excited.

  • Create and post celebratory videos and online exhibits on social media. Consider creating a PowerPoint presentation of the artwork. Check out National PTA’s virtual exhibit here

  • Host a live, virtual event to announce and award your winners and/or to celebrate your young artists. Try Facebook Live or YouTube. Check out how Georgia PTA celebrates winners online here.

  • Order or create certificates and awards as a keepsake. Consider sending medallions instead of trophies to curb the celebration budget. Use Shop PTA to buy and ship awards directly to winning students and participants.

  • Host a socially distanced award pick-up day for participants. In winner communications, clearly outline safe pick-up instructions to ensure health and avoid confusion.

  • Ask students to send you photos and create a video compiling footage from winners holding or opening their awards, reading their artist statement or reflecting on their creative process. Check out how National PTA incorporated student interviews in our celebration video here.

National PTA’s Reflections program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts which boost student confidence and success in the arts and in life.

Each year, over 300,000 students in Pre-K through Grade 12 create original works of art in response to a student-selected theme. This 50+ year-old program helps them explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.

The theme for the 2020-2021 program year is I Matter Because…. Students submit their completed works of art in one or all of the available arts categories: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, Visual Arts.

NEW!! As many school communities will be learning remotely, National PTA supports and encourages our PTAs to run their Reflections programs virtually. In our new Virtual Reflections (link for bold: https://www.pta.org/docs/default-source/files/programs/reflections/reflections-2020-2021/virtual-reflections_f1.pdf ) resource, you can find tips, sourced from PTAs across the country, on how to host a virtual Reflections program. Please note: Rhode Island state PTA will accept virtual entries and typed signatures on the Student Entry Forms from our local PTAs.

To start your school’s program register and download all your necessary documents here.

 

Link to virtual student entry form, here.

 

Buy awards materials, here.

Contact Information:

Rhode Island PTA Reflections Chair:

Rachelle Friesen

reflections@rhodeislandpta.org

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