An Open Letter to Pre-Service Arts Educators

Posted by Ms. Rachel Evans, May 28, 2010 1 comment

Rachel Evans

Do you know any pre-service arts educators? Those starting or finishing the student-teaching experience? Please deliver this letter to their inbox. Comments to this blog, especially additional suggestions for motivations and action steps for the Pre-Service Arts Educator, are encouraged. Thank you! 

Dear Pre-Service Arts Educators

Congratulations! You’ve stepped forward as the bravest of souls willing to self-identify your passion for an art form and your commitment to the education of young people.  I hope that your university is working diligently to aid you in becoming equally effective as an artist and as an educator, with plenty of wise mentoring as you merge the two into one mind, one body, one professional. 

It’s imperative that you know there is a meaningful movement afoot to create Common Core State Standards for the Arts; it’s on the event horizon.  See recent Arts Education Blog Salon entries by Lynn Tuttle and John Abodeely

Did you roll your eyes at the thought of new standards? I thought you might have.  

So what follows is a list of reasons why you, and you specifically, should care about the creation of arts standards to be adopted by as many states in the country as possible.


Why should I care about the Common Core State Standards for the Arts?
… because you have a responsibility to participate in the process as heirs to this inheritance,
… because you should understand how the field organizes itself and its content, and then reorganizes itself, on a regular basis,
… because you will discover a satisfaction when contributing to something large that bears your thumbprint,
… because using standards can make you a better teacher, one who is ensuring compliant and effective personal practice by using national guidelines,
… because you need to know the current leaders in the field who will spearheading this process using their experience, philosophy, and aesthetic,
… because these Standards are an opportunity to represent the depth and breadth you’ve come to appreciate in your art form, and
… because your students need you to imbed in the new standards their needs expressed in their language. 

If I care, what can I do?
Action Steps for Pre-Service Arts Educators to be a part of Common Core State Standards for the Arts (and beyond…)
Consume a healthy diet of relevant listservs, web updates, Facebook friends, Tweets, and blogs to keep your eye on opportunities. Be an information hound. 

  • Join as many accomplished local, state, national, and international arts education service organizations as you can afford. If you can’t afford to join, create a calendar for checking web pages on a regular basis. If someone in your life wants to give you a gift, suggest memberships and conference trips.
  •  Know the leaders in your field. Read their bios. Prepare for the likelihood that you may one day be called upon to step forward in a similar capacity.
  •  Respond promptly to the field’s call: we share the responsibility to survey others and to contribute our point of view on a regular basis.
  • Embrace the notion that arts advocacy is both civic duty and an effective form of professional development.
  • Band together to create an identity as pre-service arts educators at your current institution. Leave a legacy behind for those who follow.
  • Ask your university supervisor, cooperating teachers, and methods instructors how they plan to get involved in the new standards. If they don’t have a plan, teach them ways to learn more about the process.

Lastly, read the Green Paper prepared by the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts. 

You’ll see the three priorities defined for advocates across the country.  (I won’t quote them here because I want you to find the Green Paper for yourself.  Knowing how to find a resource is as important as knowing the content of the resource itself!) 

You, more than any other population in the field of arts education, can easily find yourself in each of the three priorities. You are in the unique position of being classified officially as student and teacher simultaneously. I encourage you to seize that dual empowerment, contribute meaningfully to the third Green Paper priority, and become a formidable force in the creation of Common Core State Standards for the Arts.

1 responses for An Open Letter to Pre-Service Arts Educators


Kelly Campbell-Busby says
July 01, 2010 at 10:31 am

Hey Rachel! I was really excited to see your blog specifically addressing pre-service art teachers. I am not a pre-service teacher, but rather a 14 year veteran who is working on my PhD in Educational Research with a focus on art education. My broad dissertation topic is the disconnect between higher education & K-12 art specialists. My thought is the disconnect (if there were ever any connection to begin with) happens in the student teacher/pre-service stage. Depending on the academic background of the pre-service teacher (fine arts or art education) and the cooperating teacher's background and developed identity, opinions may be swayed or changed all together.

I think you are correct that pre-service teachers are in a unique position to affect policy, but they may not realize it just yet. That goes to my look at teacher identity & how it is formed in the process of becoming. With your challenge to pre-service teachers I was curious to know if you have resources concerning preservice art education students as it pertains to my topic? I would be most appreciative to any help or suggestions and look forward to reading more on the ARTSblog! Thank you!

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