The J&D Curriculum Think Tank

The Jazz & Democracy Project® Curriculum Think Tank (J&D CTT) is J&D’s professional development course as well as a burgeoning network of educators utilizing J&D materials and pedagogy in learning spaces from elementary school to higher education.

The first CTT training in 2020 convened online due to COVID, and proved just how much could be achieved through virtual training. Since then, the key, in-person classroom activities have been recorded and added to J&D’s online A/V materials making it possible to train teachers anywhere through a combination of simultaneous, virtual training/coaching sessions and video modules.

Enrolment is now open to both 5th-12th Grade teachers as well as collegiate instructors. Below please find the framework for each session. Times/schedule will be tailored per cohort. Please contact us with expressions of interest or any questions.

The Jazz & Democracy Project® Curriculum Think Tank (J&D CTT) is J&D’s professional development course as well as a burgeoning network of educators utilizing J&D materials and pedagogy in learning spaces from elementary school to higher education.
5th – 12th Grade teachers + collegiate lecturers/professors
  • Subject areas including, but not limited to, History, Government, Civics, Social Studies, Humanities, Language Arts, Music, Social Justice, Socio-Emotional Learning and Interdisciplinary Approaches
  • Tech savvy educators with command of their learning spaces and subject matter who possess a strong desire to deepen their pedagogy with arts integration
  • Educators looking for novel approaches to address social justice topics with their students, socio-emotional learning (SEL), or ways to create a supportive, well-functioning classroom culture
  • Individuals as well as school teams (e.g., grade level or departmental teams) are welcome
  • No musical background is required
Up to 18hrs of training facilitated (remotely) by J&D Founder, “Dr. Wes”
2hrs of one-on-one coaching
24hrs of A/V library + written materials
  • Continuing Education Units (CEU) available*
  • Twelve 90min Zoom sessions (18hrs)
  • 2hrs direct coaching to help you design lessons specifically for your students
  • Access to 2hrs of training videos that walk you through in-person, classroom activities, e.g. Whackin’ The Blues®* and best practices for utilizing live musicians in your classroom
  • Access to the full catalog of over 40 J&D J&D Exclusive Artist Interviews in manageable, edited audio snippets, along with written transcriptions ready for use with your students
  • A coupon code for a full set of Boomwhackers® for your classroom
  • Access to lessons created by other educators in the network
  • A new professional learning community to support your ongoing jazz integration

* CEUs for California; other U.S. states TBD

Afternoon and/or weekend sessions TBD by your cohort
  • 100% Attendance
  • Set up a network email address
  • Set up a uStudio account and download the app to access J&D proprietary A/V materials
  • Design and present one lesson to your cohort during the training
  • Implement at least one J&D lesson per semester during the school year immediately following training (minimum 2 lessons/school year)
  • Submit a minimum of 2 lesson plans and supporting documents to J&D by the end of the school year
  • Continue to submit lesson plans and supporting documents to J&D as you create them so long as you remain in the Curriculum Think Tank network.
TBD depending on size of cohort/number of training hours
  • Packages include training, coaching, access to the full suite of materials, plus an annual fee to retain access to the network and materials
  • Individuals + School/Departmental team pricing available. Contact Us for pricing.

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 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 apropos to the jazz aesthetic itself. It is also 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 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.