What’s So Scary about Bringing Arts into Your Classroom?

Young Audiences’ Art is Education is a partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that provides a whole-school model of arts-integrated curriculum.  Young Audiences works with 30 arts and cultural partners to provide Art is Education arts-integrated residencies in several Cleveland schools.

Japanese Mirror Dance Performance from Art is Education partnership May 2011

From a teacher’s perspective, figuring out how to integrate an arts-infused curriculum and bringing visiting artists into their classroom for an entire year can seem like a daunting task.  Arts is Education tries to tackle this challenge head on through professional development that is provided by Young Audiences to participating teachers and artists.

Recently Young Audiences completed a professional development session in which participants focused on the process of starting  their new partnership for this school year.

In an effort to create a productive planning environment, participants were led through an open discussion of the “baggage” each partner (teachers and artists) brings to their partnership.  After creating an environment in which people could speak candidly, the group divulged their biggest fears about partnering with each other, their expectations of each other, and the major benefits or opportunities they envisioned for their partnerships.

Here is a summary of the discussion:

Top Fears or Concerns
From the teachers’ perspective:
-more on their plate/loss of time for other priorities
-risk of embarrassment adds pressure
-disruption of established routines/procedures
-students may disrespect teaching artists
-adjusting discipline to new situation
-added stress of having visitors in classroom

From the teaching artists’ perspective:
-student misbehavior/ lack of self-control
-teachers who don’t participate
– students adjusting to a teaching artist in the classroom

Top Expectations (for each other)
From the teachers’ perspective:
-have engaging lessons
-make learning authentic
-act as a role model for students
-be on time/follow the schedule
-share new methods/ideas/ways of teaching
-collaborate with teachers

From the teaching artists’ perspective:
-student performance or exhibition
-teachers will learn from teaching artists (and vice-versa)
-clear and regular communication
-support from teachers and school staff
-to learn as much as they teach
-desire to alleviate teacher’s burden

Top Opportunities or Benefits
From the teachers’ perspective:
-progression of student achievement
-positive learning outcomes
-opportunity to gain new skills/knowledge
-greater awareness of every student’s talent
-increased student self-confidence
-breaks the monotony of the school day
-excitement
-eases pressure on students

From the teaching artists’ perspective:
-shared resources and materials
-new understanding about teaching itself
-building a network of arts advocates
-positive behavior changes in students
-expands artist’s creative process

Everyone found the results revealing and encouraging.  Without a doubt, it created an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect and got everyone off to a start for a successful year.  Participants left the session with enthusiasm to develop engaging and meaningful arts learning experiences for students — together.  We hope you can gain some insight from these results.

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