Blog Posts for Arts Education Network

Teaching Artists as Equity Warriors

Posted by Tina LaPadula, Mar 11, 2014 7 comments

Tina LaPadula Tina LaPadula

I facilitate arts education workshops and conversations nationally. Teaching artists often ask me why it’s important to discuss arts education and social justice. I’m still honing my response, but here’s my current thinking:

We live in a country with undeniable barriers in education and the arts. I’m not even going to get into the differences between private and public schools, or the historic divide between formal arts training and cultural and community arts in this post. (Although, you should take a moment to read this great piece from the The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and Helicon which makes the case that more foundation funding in the arts should directly benefit lower-income communities and people of color). If we accept the idea that social justice is a vision for a society in which all people, of all identities, are treated equitably then we also have to admit the landscape is currently inequitable.  

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Dramatic Possibilities

Posted by Lenore Kelner, Mar 10, 2014 7 comments

Lenore Blank Kelner Lenore Blank Kelner

I have been a teaching artist for many years—long before the profession had this name.

I work with students and teachers in all grade levels integrating drama with oral language development and reading comprehension skills and like all teaching artists try to stay abreast of educational shifts and trends so that my work can be relevant and meaningful to students and to teachers. I have written two books on drama and the classroom and one book on integrating drama with reading comprehension skills.

After 35 years of performing, directing, presenting, writing, and teaching, I am still amazed by the joy and passion I still find daily in my work.  When a student tracked as “low ability” unexpectedly utters a jewel of dialogue during a drama that demonstrates the student not only understands the text explicitly but implicitly I still often get the feeling that I had better sit down quickly or I may fall down. When a teacher after a professional development workshop or after observing a demonstration lesson looks at me in amazement and says, “This is the way I know I can reach my students.”  I again feel so lucky to be able to do this-- amorphous, hard to define, and difficult to quantify-- work. 

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Those Who Do, Teach

Posted by Mr. Adam Natale, Mar 10, 2014 0 comments

Adam Natale Adam Natale

If School of Rock taught us anything, it’s that art can have a major impact on students’ lives, and that even a slacker musician can inspire the next generation.  What it also showed us was that maybe the world of teaching artists is too ad hoc and doesn’t really have any form or professionalization to it – someone can just walk in to a classroom, hook up an amp, and start jamming (ahem, teaching).

Well, that film debuted over 10 years ago.  In the last decade, we’ve surely seen a surge not only in the professionalization of teaching artists, but also in the field as a whole.   With organizations such as the Association of Teaching Artists (of which I am a board member) providing resources and research to the field, and certificate programs popping up through university continuing ed programs, teaching artists have far more resources available to them than they had even five years ago.  Even within many arts organizations, programs led by education directors are focusing on the training of teaching artists as opposed to the simple execution of lesson plans. 

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How To Sustain A Professional Practice As A Teaching Artist?

Posted by Dale Davis, Mar 10, 2014 2 comments

Dale Davis Dale Davis

I am a Teaching Artist. Teaching Artists are theater artists, visual artists, writers, filmmakers, poets, video artists, photographers, dancers, storytellers, musicians, puppeteers. We work alone in isolation from a national community to bring us together to share the excitement and challenges of our work, ideas, concerns, and resources. We work as employees of arts organizations, on rosters of arts organizations, and as independent contractors. We work in schools, libraries, prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, museums, homeless shelters, cultural organizations, senior citizen centers, and in our communities. We work in urban, suburban, and rural areas in densely populated and sparsely populated states.

How does this translate into a practical career track? Liability insurance, independent contractor or employee, health insurance, retirement, intellectual property, copyright, certification, master’s degree programs, fellowships, career track - these are high up in Teaching Artists’ concerns.

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At the End of the Day, a Teaching Artist is an Artist First

Posted by Russell Granet, Mar 10, 2014 8 comments

Russell Granet Russell Granet

I graduated conservatory in 1988 and my first job out of school was as a teaching artist.  I moved back to New York City after completing my studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  I was looking for work and had no interest in returning to my previous life in college as a bellman - a gig that paid well, but this was before luggage had wheels.  I asked a buddy of mine from high school, who had also moved to NYC to pursue a career in professional theatre, what he was doing and he said he was a teaching artist.  I had never heard the term before so I asked him what it was and how I could become one.  He said the job had three requirements and in this order:

1. You had to like kids

2. You had to be a morning person because school started early and you couldn’t be late

3. You had to have an expertise in an art form

Sounded reasonable.  I applied for a position at the same organization where my friend worked.  I got the job.  My first assignment was to co-teach with a woman from Schenectady NY, neither one of us had ever stepped foot in a NYC public school.  I was given a name of a teacher, room number, and grade level and so began my career as a teaching artist.

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Welcome to our Blog Salon on Teaching Artists!

Posted by Mr. Jeff M. Poulin, Mar 10, 2014 0 comments

Jeff Poulin Jeff Poulin

As a field, we have come to understand, as articulated in the recently published A Shared Endeavor document, that Teaching Artists are a vital part of our arts education ecosystem.  To this point we have invited 25 leaders in the field, throughout the ecosystem, to discuss the challenges, opportunities and best practices of teaching artists in the field of arts education.

As there are so many angles to discuss on this broad topic, we have clustered the posts in related areas of interest. Throughout the week we will cover the history of the role that teaching artists play in the field to best and most innovative practices for both teaching artists and organizations that work with teaching artists. See the schedule below!

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