Teachers set the tone for residencies before the Residency Artist even arrives. Their enthusiasm, curiosity, preparation, and commitment to integrating the residency into the learning environment ignites student and staff engagement. Residencies are most effective when the classroom teacher actively collaborates with the Residency Artist to work alongside the students, learning new skills, sharing work and joining in discussions about the creative process.
During five years of consecutive music residencies, the school has worked closely with the teaching artist to develop a world percussion curriculum for the 6th grade band classes. The program is fully supported by the school administration and the District Arts Supervisor. Participating teacher, Kristine Massari wrote, “The World Percussion program meets one of the District Professional Development Plan’s principle goals: ‘Continue to implement the district initiative on Differentiated Instruction to maximize each individual student’s learning, and implement classroom learning experiences that address each student’s readiness, interests, and learning style’.” AIE residency students also took a field trip to Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair to experience a unique live jazz performance in the environment of a performance venue. The 6th grade students were able to view their Residency Artist, Gilad Dobrecky and his trio in the live concert based on West African and Latin rhythms, correlated to their residency curriculum and percussion instruction. The performance integrated instruction, fostered discussion, promoted questions, and encouraged participation by providing the opportunity for the students to be interactive in the art making process. Students learned how these musicians developed their skills, passion and dedication to their careers and, as a result, realized what it means to be a performance artist. A Visiting Artist who is a jazz drummer added his expertise in playing uncommon world percussion instruments as well as bringing his own unique style to the residency instruction. Students and school music teachers were able to observe the Residency Artist collaborate with the Visiting Artist in creating and connecting their individual styles and sounds to composing music. The resulting instruction and class participation included dialogue, critique, lesson and performance modeling which benefited the students as well as their school teachers.
A certified teacher must be present in the classroom with the artist at all times. As a guest in the classroom, the artist is not legally responsible for the students. Teachers and artists must discuss and establish how they will share responsibility for: leading learning activities, managing classroom activities, directing student participation; setting achievement xpectations; and guiding student behavior. Teachers should also acquaint artists with their individual classroom and general school procedures. Share established procedures for: student roles as classroom helpers; quiet signal/signs; restroom permission/passes; parent volunteers; custodian assistance; copying/printing handout materials, etc.
Residencies in their entirety function as hands-on professional development for teachers. In the process of the teacher/artist collaboration, teachers benefit from the extended time to learn and model new techniques, develop new approaches, and be exposed to a variety of resources through working with a professional artist. Teachers and Residency Artists should discuss follow-up activities that can extend the concepts and skills learned during the residency.