Because you are passionate about the art you make. Because you value the creative process as much as the outcome. Because you are curious, flexible and empathetic. Because once, a long time ago, another artist or teacher helped kindle the creative fire in you, and you want to keep that flame alive.
“I have always tried to live by the rule of LISTENING to my students. A lesson plan is necessary, it is tool, a foundation, BUT...if the students are engaged they will rewrite that lesson plan and take you, as an artist and a teacher down an unexpected path where learning takes place for both artists and students. Always be listening. Always be flexible, and be open to the good kind of chaos that comes from process.”
Playwright, Director and
NJSCA Teaching Artist
Teaching artists are professional, working artists, actively engaged in their chosen disciplines. They are dancers and drummers, poets and painters, singers and sculptors. They are also teachers, working to share artistic knowledge, techniques and concepts with learners of all ages and abilities. They are willing to work collaboratively with administrators, teachers and site coordinators to create residencies that promote curriculum goals, address community needs, and challenge all parties to stretch beyond their current practice in arts education.
Teaching artists continue to educate themselves—as artists and as teachers—through reading, observing, reflecting and participating in professional development opportunities (see Resources: Links ). They believe, as the writer Ursula K. LeGuin wrote, that “to learn to make something well can take your whole life. It’s worth it.”
A teaching artist is: a practicing artist who balances that practice with teaching. They bring fresh, surprising approaches in content and style into schools. They know how to work in partnership with a classroom teacher or arts specialist and understand that they are a resource. They have a clear understanding of the mission, policy, programs and procedures of their partner institution(s). They are good observers and listeners. They have skills in planning and evaluation of their own work as well as their work with students and teachers in schools. They are knowledgeable of classroom practice, pedagogy, childhood development, grade level appropriateness and classroom management. They keep current on trends, policy and practices in arts education on the local, state and national level and on the latest research on the benefits of arts education. They are advocates for the arts, artists, teachers, arts organizations, etc. They are able to work with children of all abilities and learning styles, and if not, they know how to gain that training. They know how to create and implement lesson plans in collaboration with a teacher. They respect the culture of children. They are accountable for setting goals and objectives. They know how to conduct successful Professional Development Workshops for teachers. They develop a breadth of experience over time. They seek to understand each school’s and classroom’s unique environment and dynamics.
A synthesis of statements from AIE Teaching Artists who
participated in a Teaching Artist Retreat on October 16, 2006