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WHAT IS A TEACHING ARTIST?

The Arizona Commission on The Arts http://www.azarts.gov/

Artists are exemplary problem-solvers and life-long learners, constantly striving to improve, deepen and refine their artistic expression. They work specifically with the skills of creativity: discovery, wonder, and recombining the stuff of the world into new knowledge. If human beings have managed to survive through the development of skills that allow us to collaborate: language pictures, gestures, movement, "it follows that the art originate deep in our intelligence," in our ability to survive by means of creating and understanding metaphor. Education in the arts is an irreplaceable medium for developing this intelligence. Successful teaching artists help provide a tangible link between the creative process and all kinds of learning, and they make manifest in classroom and community settings the human drive to survive by making meaning our of the world.

For many years, professional artists have practiced their art and made significant contributions to the field of arts education. Working individually and within arts education programs, they have used their creative processes to bring learners into arts experiences. Teaching artists are a crucial resource for the future of arts education, the arts in general, and the overall process of learning. The role of the teaching artist is an integral part of the overarching arts education constellation, which includes: 

  • short and long-term school and after-school residencies

  • arts experiences, including in-school performances by professional artists, as well as field trips to studios, galleries, museums, and performances. 

  • integrating the arts throughout the curriculum as a way of engaging all types of intelligence's in the learning process

  • arts education standards backed up by ongoing curriculum-based arts instruction in K-12 grades.

  • discipline-specific learning in the arts: visual art, dance, theater, music, poetry

  • higher education and on-going development for the professional artist, as well as the professional artist who is also a teaching artist

  • lifelong learning in the arts through community arts events, classes and workshops

Nationally recognized actor, teaching artist and author Eric Booth has developed the following definition of the teaching artist: “A teaching artist (artist –educator) is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.”

Karen Erickson, writing in the Teaching Artist Journal notes three distinct areas of their work where successful teaching artists demonstrate mastery. They should:

  • Be an accomplished artist in their field.

  • Provide expertise in teaching that includes organizational abilities, people management, knowledge of organizational systems (e.g. schools, prisons, park districts, socials service organizations, etc.) ability to teach (to transfer to others governed by age, gender, physical, cultural and brain development considerations) and knowledge about current trends in the organizational system into which they have been hired.

  • Be able to operate with business acumen.

The Association of Teaching Artists http://www.teachingartists.com/

A Teaching Artist is a professional visual, performing, or literary artist who works in schools and in the community. The Teaching Artist may perform for the students and teachers, may work in long term or short-term residencies in classrooms or in a community setting, or may lead in program development through involvement in curricular planning and residencies with school partners. The Teaching Artist is an educator who integrates the creative process into the classroom and the community.

Eric Booth

A teaching artist (artist ­educator) is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.

Carnegie Hall, Eric Booth on Teaching Artistry

Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, New York http://www.artspartner.org/

“Teaching Artist” refers to an artist who earns income providing educational services through a cultural partner to a school system. In some cases, teaching artists may work in an after-school or community classroom setting, or provide services to young people who are incarcerated or confined in a severely challenged environment. Employment and billing are generally administered through a contract between a cultural institution or non-profit arts organization and a school or BOCES. (BOCES stands for Board of Cooperative Educational Services, a public organization created by the New York State Legislature to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts. There are presently 38 BOCES across the State).  

This definition continues to change, as Teaching Artists find employment in new sectors and through new kinds of partnerships. For example, there are Teaching Artists now working at the higher education level in collaborative arrangements between cultural organizations and universities interested in using art as a teaching tool. Teaching artists have also begun to facilitate the use of art as a tool in healing in settings such as hospitals or hospices.

Arlene Goldbard, Independent writer and consultant

The formulation “teaching artist” is relatively new to me. I’ve just made the acquaintance of Eric Booth, a leader in that field, and subscribed to Teaching Artists’ Journal, so I hope to learn more. From what I’ve seen, the relationship can be as deep as teaching artists want it to be. In other words, art can be taught as technique, separate from questions of value and meaning; if a teacher artist were to parachute into a school with this approach, his or her work wouldn’t have much in common with community cultural development. But teaching artists who are interested in creativity as social (as well as personal) imagination, who want to teach meaning as much as method, and who want to understand their work in a much larger context will find a great deal of value in learning more about community cultural development history, theory, and practice. My experience has been that the larger the framework of meaning an artists brings to such work, the more powerful and exciting the work will be. So I have high hopes for more dialogue between artists who place themselves in each of these allied categories, “community artist” and “teaching artist.” and I think we will discover many useful commonalities.

from “The Art of Social Imagination: A Discussion of New Creative Community with Nick Rabkin, Jennifer Williams, and Arlene Goldbard,” Grantmakers In The Arts Reader, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2007.

Greg McCaslin, Senior Program Consultant, The Center for Arts Education

A teaching artist capitalizes on artistic skills and processes to engage others in learning about, making and responding to art and each other.

Barbara McKean in A Teaching Artist At Work: Theater With Young People In Educational Settings

The term teaching artist first appeared in the 1970s through the work at the Lincoln Center Institute and its arts education programs. When I began working in classrooms and in education programs with professional theatres, the term artist-in-residence or artist-teacher was used to set us apart from the arts specialists employed by school districts or artists who did not participate in teaching. Today teaching artist has be come the term to used to describe t he wide range of activities for those individuals who both practice their art form and engage in teaching others the knowledge and processes they employ as artists.

Teaching artists are distinguished form those who dedicate most of their time to teaching the arts in schools and are licensed teachers and from master-teachers who share specific knowledge and techniques from their won work in a limited workshop-type environment. Teaching artists in education are expected to work as artists as well as invest themselves in the creation and implementation of project in collaboration with other teachers or education staff. The modifier—teaching—highlights the pedagogical nature of the work. It helps the individual conceive of teaching as the activity that modifies and drives the education approach of the art form.

from Barbara McKean, A Teaching Artist At Work: Theater with Young People In Educational Settings, Heinemann, 2006.

Massachusetts Cultural Council http://www.massculturalcouncil.org/

Nationally-recognized actor, teaching artist and author Eric Booth has developed the following definition of the teaching artist:

"A teaching artist (artist-educator) is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through or about the arts."

Karen Erickson, writing in the Teaching Artist Journal, notes three distinct areas of their work where successful teaching artists demonstrate mastery. They should:

  • Be an accomplished artist in their field.

  • Provide expertise in teaching that includes organizational abilities, people management, knowledge of organizational systems (e.g. schools, prisons, park districts, etc.) ability to teach (to transfer knowledge to others governed by age, gender, physical cultural and brain development considerations), and knowledge about current trends in the organizational system into which they have been hired.

  • Be able to operate with business acumen.

The specific skills and knowledge of those aspects (artistic, teaching, business) of the work of teaching artists include:

ARTISTIC ASPECT

Teaching artists should work towards acquiring the following:

  • Have formal training and/or years of experience in arts discipline or traditional arts practice.

  • Demonstrate professional practice: performs, exhibits, publishes, maintain a healthy body of work as appropriate to the art form and cultural community.

  • Provide authentic model for power of artistic thinking, creating, perceiving, reflecting, and attending.

  • Take risks as an artist (model behavior).

  • Develop self-assessment/critique/evaluation skills.

  • Model flexibility and adaptability.

  • Possess artistic skills to deal with any situation that might arise.

  • Use components of art form to teach in new ways.

  • Transform passion for own art form and motivates participant to push their own aesthetic experience.

·         Synthesize and make connections.

  •   Knowledge Base:

·         Historical and societal context of own art form.

·         Wide range of materials and methods within art form.

TEACHING ASPECT

Teaching artists should work towards acquiring the following:

  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, staff, students, parents, community.

  • Conduct a needs assessment in collaboration with the classroom teacher or site contact person.

  • Engage a roomful of people who have different abilities.

  • Teach across gender, age, race, and cultural boundaries.

  • Create successful sequential lessons that are developmentally appropriate.

  • Assess participant learning and evaluate overall program effectiveness.

  • Be flexible, assess progress and success of classroom in progress and make any necessary adjustments (in teaching style, materials, equipment, timing, sequencing, teacher/staff involvement).

  • Model behavior and best practices.

  • Access resources to support own teaching, e.g. people, organizations, literature.

  • Use the arts to foster and build healthy self esteem.

  • Share genuine affection for the audience/population that one is teaching.

  • To build community through art.

  • Knowledge Base:

  • Classroom management skills.

  • Multiple intelligence theory and its integration into teaching practice.

  • Current state curriculum standards and an ability to link them with teaching practice.

  • Developmental capabilities of their participants, and child development in general.

BUSINESS ASPECT

Teaching artists should work towards acquiring the following:

  • Manage time and schedule effectively, not over-booking, ability to be on time.

  • Communicate: to talk with teachers, staff, administrators, parents; ability to follow up on conversations.

  • Manage an office: administrative skills, book keeping.

  • Be organized and prepared.

  • Be professional in demeanor: respect for school/community space environment, materials, rules, schedule, and property.

  • Use good presentation skills: using voice and body language to captivate audience.

  • Be able to write workshop descriptions, promotional literature and more: literary skills.

  • Plan and promote own work as an artist-educator.

  • Write grants and raise funds.

  • Understand how to access different communities and to facilitate meetings with a diverse group of people.

The New York Foundation for The Arts, Teaching Artists’ Source http://www.nyfa.org/

 “Teaching Artist” refers to an artist who earns income providing educational services through a cultural partner to a school system. In some cases, teaching artists may work in an after-school or community classroom setting, or provide services to young people who are incarcerated or confined in a severely challenged environment. Employment and billing are generally administered through a contract between a cultural institution or non-profit arts organization and a school or BOCES. (BOCES stands for Board of Cooperative Educational Services, a public organization created by the New York State Legislature to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts. There are presently 38 BOCES across the State

This definition continues to change, as Teaching Artists find employment in new sectors and through new kinds of partnerships. For example, there are Teaching Artists now working at the higher education level in collaborative arrangements between cultural organizations and universities interested in using art as a teaching tool. Teaching artists have also begun to facilitate the use of art as a tool in healing in settings such as hospitals or hospices.

Sandy Taylor, Art Education Director, Monmouth County (New Jersey) Arts Council

A teaching artist is a professional artist who can inspire in others the joys, rewards, and quality of life that making art brings, can produce the highest quality of art, as well as clearly articulate and teach the process of art-making.

Teaching Artists Organized (San Francisco) http://www.theatrebayarea.org/artsed/tao.jsp

A Teaching Artist is a professional artist, or arts organization, with skills in both teaching and the arts who work with students in a variety of school and community settings providing education in the arts, thereby expanding the horizons of young people in the community.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_artist

If you have a definition that has not been included and you would like to have it included, please e-mail it to ddavis@teachingartists.com