Learning and participation in music, dance, theater, and the visual arts are vital to the development of our children and our communities. Through advocacy, research, partnerships, and professional development, Americans for the Arts strives to provide and secure more resources and support for arts education. Visit AmericansForTheArts.org for more information on the Arts Education Network.
“No WAY!” is literally what I said when a participant from my Saturday professional development workshop, Rosie Mitchell, asked me if I would run a steamroller printmaking day at her elementary school in South Salt Lake City. For those of you who have never heard of “steamroller printmaking,” this is a technique for making very large woodcut prints using a steamroller as the printing press. More on that in a bit…
It is not that I am unkind; it’s just that it is so much work to move a printmaking studio off site. I know, I have done it before for the Utah Arts Festival when I was invited to demonstrate steamroller printmaker along with my two fellow Saltgrass Printmakers co-owners and founders – my husband, Erik Brunvand, and our business partner Stefanie Dykes. That’s when Rosie first participated in the steamrolling event. Later she joined us at our non-profit print studio, Saltgrass Printmakers (facebook page here) and steamrolled some more works of art. She knew how much fun it was and wanted to share it with her elementary school kids. Read the rest of this entry »
While gathering supplies for the Summer Arts and Apps Academy for students of the Lower Kuskokwim School District in bush Alaska, we came across a box filled with bags of beautifully colored sand. Although the two-week academy was centered on developing eBooks and exploring various apps on the iPad, we knew we were not leaving the supply closet without the colored sand in tow.
Working as a teaching artist is thrilling on just about every level. I have the privilege of collaborating with brilliant educators, fellow teaching artists, and students who inspire me daily. I especially relish the time I spend developing curricula and planning interesting visual art experiences for students. I like to be organized and to structure lesson plans, but I must admit that after 15 years of working as a teaching artist, I have learned the value of spontaneity.
In 2003, one woman’s 58-year collection of thrift was rediscovered by her grandson and transformed into a living museum and artist residency program called Elsewhere. Today, we invite artists from all over the world to create site-specific projects that respond to this collection, while working inside a three-story former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC. As the building and its contents are continually transformed into an evolving artwork, publics are invited daily to play, collaborate, and curate alongside this changing creative community.
As a teaching artist at Elsewhere, the museum and its vast collections provide a platform for learning projects, workshops, and tours that engage schools and publics across North Carolina. In 2012, we launched CoLab, a collaborative laboratory for youth-led media experiments and digital storytelling. Each CoLab session brings together a teaching artist and a group of youth to explore a theme or question, creating interactive media works that range from short films and live performances, to digital publications, websites, and sound recordings in response. Read the rest of this entry »
What does a 100+ year old pipe organ have to offer school children in today’s world?
Portland, Maine’s iconic Kotzschmar Organ, donated over a century ago by publishing mogul Cyrus Curtis and the centerpiece of Merrill Auditorium ever since, has become the inspiration for a progressive and multifaceted education program in Maine schools. Developed by the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) nonprofit, the curriculum includes a series of events, presentations, and in-school courses.
As an organist and choir director of both youth and adults, I am teaching all the time. My experience with FOKO’s education in the schools over the past ten years, presenting youth concerts on the Kotzschmar, has been eye opening to say the least. I continue to grow as a teaching artist through teaching in different school systems and working with teams of classroom teachers. Read the rest of this entry »
This was the mantra I was given during my time at the famed d.school at Stanford and it has stuck with me as we began the process of redesigning a pedagogy for an entire organization.
The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is taking the fundamentals of design thinking outside of traditional school classrooms and piloting a best practice of infusing an after school arts and tech program with this innovative method of teaching and teen engagement. Under this model WMCAT teen students are working in cohorts to explore and tackle a pressing community issue using arts and technology as a basis for inquiry, critical thinking and practical application. We are serving 144 teens from Grand Rapids Public Schools on 12 design teams that are each connected to a local community partner. It is arts education through a 21st Century skill development lens. This is the exciting, innovative and proven world of project-based learning where students learn through exploring real-world challenges and issues. It is grounded in student experience and driven by student interest. Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s be honest, when an art project goes long, or a class is a little crazy, structured reflection is the first thing to go. This happens in spite of the fact that we KNOW reflecting makes all the difference when it comes to students retaining their discoveries and being able to apply their learning in other contexts. In the words of John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Like most things that are of paramount importance, creating an environment in which meaningful reflection can happen is difficult, especially if you are a teaching artist who only temporarily inhabits another teacher’s classroom. I am currently in the middle of teaching an 8-week, 5th grade residency for the Rainforest Art Project. My students are a perfectionist group, bordering on unruly. Some of the students are so worried about making a mistake, it’s difficult for them to even start working. They are very critical of themselves and their artwork. Read the rest of this entry »
Why do some artists decide to teach? For many, the attraction is a desire to connect students to a creative process and to the larger arts community. For others, teaching fuels their work as artists. The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists includes more than 900 artists who have been approved to conduct residencies and performances in schools. Many have been teaching for as long as they’ve been artists. We wanted to know more, so we asked four Roster artists about their experiences.
The artists, the number of years they’ve been teaching, plus a brief description of their work with students: Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone I know who works as a teaching artist has amazing success stories of student learning experiences with, through, and in the arts. There are stories about reaching the “unreachable” student, motivating whole groups of resistant learners, creating breathtaking products, deepening understandings about curriculum subjects, and engaging the minds, bodies, and imaginations of young people in extraordinary ways.
This is great stuff. This is the kind of information that should be shared.
- How do effective Teaching Artists get the results we get?
- What are our methods?
- What precisely do we do in a class session or series?
We know that what we do works and we know why it works. But are we sharing this information with a wide enough audience? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s good to shut up sometimes. – attributed to Marcel Marceau
Many years ago, I was at a dinner party peopled mostly by academics (graduate students in the humanities and newbie assistant professors) and their life partners (I was one of the partners). I was relaying a set of dramatic stories about the education theater program I’d been working with, aimed at high schoolers and focused on HIV prevention. This was in the late 1980s, when teens had recently been identified as having different risk factors than adults and were identified as a fast-growing at-risk population. Read the rest of this entry »
Being a teaching artist is hard work. There are the sticky, dirty germs and the immune system that can’t keep up at every new school site. Then there’s those Friday afternoons with a hyper class of third graders. Sometimes, there’s the not so great classroom teacher who sits disengaged in the back of the room grading papers, eating, or even worse, napping. Yes, I said napping. But it’s not always like that. The teacher napping incident was a one-time thing. Most of the time being a teaching artist in a school setting is an inspiring and invigorating experience. I learn from my students and their classroom teachers as much as I hope they learn from me.
At San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts I split my responsibilities as a teaching artist for CARE (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education) with other administrative responsibilities. The pedagogy of teaching artistry has made me a better administrator and I would like to share these four tips with you. Read the rest of this entry »
Gang banger or set designer? Bored and disconnected, or improvising jazz on a Duke Ellington tune? YOU are in a position to change a life, and maybe one day save a life with art. So let’s look at five important ways to maximize your potential, your influence and your long term success as a Teaching Artist.
1) You Gotta Have Chops
2) Hit The Gym (aka Professional Development)
3) Autopilot is a Killer
4) Strong Relationships With Teachers and Administration
5) Keep Your Inner Artist Alive Read the rest of this entry »
On Saturday, February 1, I had the wonderful opportunity to watch Young Audiences/Arts for Learning teaching artist, Max Bent, work. We were not in a classroom and we were not in an official Young Audiences program at a school or community organization. Instead, we were joining our neighbors, Single Carrot Theatre, in welcoming the neighborhood to our new home at 2600 North Howard Street in Baltimore. Max was offering a musical demonstration to anyone who walked in to say hello and hear more about Young Audiences. After an hour of recording sounds visitors played on a small steel drum and various other eclectic instruments, Max created a symphony of sounds by layering impromptu measures of four beats on top of each other. As he taught, I was struck by one phrase he kept repeating: “We have to re-harness the things that happen by accident.” I instantly connected this idea to my research as a graduate student. Read the rest of this entry »
The role of a teaching artist is often different in every organization. Here at the Guggenheim teaching artists are at the core of the Learning Through Art (LTA) program. As a non-artist who has now spent 20 years in the arts, working with teaching artists, is without question the best part of my job and I hold them in the highest esteem. LTA teaching artists are a dedicated bunch and their commitment to the program goes well beyond the one day a week they technically “work” at their assigned school. Jenny Bevill, who has been with LTA for 10 years, says the following:
“I feel my main role is that of translator, using all the resources I have to teach students to speak visually. First I try to connect my students with artwork that they will be interested in and curious about. Then I give them materials and teach them techniques that they can master and use in service of their own ideas. In collaboration with their classroom teachers and museum staff, I try to ask good essential questions so that students will be inspired to respond creatively rather than correctly. Lastly, I act as their guide through the art making process, reflecting their thinking back to them and offering suggestions to deepen their learning.” Read the rest of this entry »
In preparation for the launch of our new Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s – a music for social change initiative inspired by El Sistema—the Community & Education department of Orchestra of St. Luke’s was looking for a team to teach string instruments to a group of 10 year olds, to shape the students’ leadership, focus, and collaborative skills, and to help build a sense of community among OSL and participating families.
This was a tall order, but we were optimistic. After all, we worked in New York City, where extraordinary music teachers abound. But as we finished the job description, we were stuck: Is this a Music Teacher position, or a Teaching Artist position? Read the rest of this entry »
My colleague, educator, lecturer, and etymologist, Eric Booth, defines a teaching artist as “a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities, and sensibilities of an educator, who can effectively engage a wide range of people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.”
At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program we define our staff as Teaching Artists and look for three qualities:
1. Effective Pedagogy
2. High Level Artistry
3. Ability to ADVOCATE for the musical art form.
My mission in the following paragraphs is to create a series of arguments that may lead to other questions growing out of the query – “Are universities doing enough to train performers to be Teaching Artists?” Read the rest of this entry »