The J&D Curriculum Think Tank

The Jazz & Democracy Project® Curriculum Think Tank is J&D’s professional development course for teachers, as well as a burgeoning network of teachers utilizing J&D materials and pedagogy in their classrooms.

J&D is currently looking for teachers to comprise the second Curriculum Think Tank teacher cohort which will convene this Summer, 2021. Last summer’s training was 100% virtual. Whether this summer’s training must also be virtual, or whether we can gather in person remains TBD due to coronavirus related gathering restrictions. Below please find what details are available at this time. Please contact us with any questions and please check back for updates.

5th – 12th Grade teachers of History, Government, Civics, Social Studies, Humanities, Language Arts and Music
  • Tech savvy teachers with command of classroom management and subject matter who possess a strong desire to integrate the arts into their teaching
  • No musical experience or background required
  • Individuals and school groups (e.g., departmental or grade level teams) are welcome
Training facilitated by J&D Founder, “Dr. Wes”
  • Modelling of complete lessons
  • Modelling of key J&D activities, e.g. Whackin’ The Blues®* and Democracy Jam®*
  • A full set of Boomwhackers® for your classroom + coupon code for a future purchase*
  • Best practices for utilizing live musicians in your classroom*
  • Access to the full catalogue of J&D Exclusive Artist Interviews in manageable, edited audio snippets, along with written transcriptions ready for use with your students
  • New interviews added every year
  • Direct coaching to help you design lessons specifically for your students
  • Access to lessons created by other teachers in the network
  • A new professional learning community to support your ongoing jazz integration exploration
  • A resource list, including local musicians to hire for live, classroom performances

* If in-person gatherings are allowed

Week of June 7th – Week of June 28th (Group 1) *or* Week of July 5th – Week of July 26th (Group 2)
  • Ten 75 minute Zoom meetings from 3:30-4:45pm (2-3 days/week, exact days TBD)
  • If gathering restrictions allow, at least two in-person, half-day sessions at a site in Oakland, CA, to be scheduled on days/times that work for the cohort
  • Proof of vaccination. If you are unable to comply with this requirement, please let Dr. Wes know.
  • Set up a uStudio account and download the app to access J&D proprietary A/V materials
  • Set up a network email address
  • Present one lesson to your cohort during the summer training
  • Implement at least one J&D lesson per semester during the school year
  • Convene with the cohort once per semester during the school year
  • Open to convene with network subgroups to support lessons/lesson planning as needed
$1500 per participant for the first year, then $150 annual renewal fee
  • 20% DISCOUNT: $1200 if paid by May 17th (Group 1) *or* June 14th (Group 2)
  • Payment plans available

The Curriculum Think Tank Approach

If we want our students to be creative, critical thinkers who are unafraid to take risks that broaden their minds, then professional development should provide the very same experience for teachers. That is why there is no pre-packaged curriculum here. You will be given raw J&D materials, just enough structure and guidance, and the chance to practice lessons you create with your cohort.

Why this approach? It’s very simple: you and your students are unique individuals in a particular context. Both your individuality and context are key to teaching and learning. The way Dr. Wes teaches students in Oakland, California, may not be the best way for someone else with a different background (teaching, musical, racial, gender, age, etc.) to teach their students. So, instead of providing you with a pre-packaged curriculum, Dr. Wes will take you through key J&D activities and guiding principles, you will experience a lesson or two, but the bulk of your time will be spent diving into the J&D materials and creating lessons that will work for your students. This is not only apropos to the jazz aesthetic itself, it is necessary for good teaching.

After just 4 hours of front-loading instruction by Dr. Wes coupled with homework assignments, the first teacher cohort felt ready to role play lessons of their own creation. Is sharing the first draft of a lesson with a group of teachers difficult? Yes. Is role playing difficult? Yes. However, the community was greatly supportive of one another, and when everyone put themselves in the vulnerable position of using new materials along with new, distance-learning interfaces, it seeded a strong connection amongst the first cohort. A network that relies on one another to vet and improve lessons is precisely what the J&D Curriculum Think Tank aims to be.

If you’re thinking, “I’m not a musician,” or, “But I don’t know anything about jazz,” don’t worry! Though Dr. Wes studied jazz theory and jazz history in college, he is not a jazz musician. The very focus of the Curriculum Think Tank is to find ways that you—yes, even you—can integrate jazz into your teaching.