1. Principles of Artful Teaching
The program opens with teachers sharing passionate insights about why they teach the arts to young people. Then short classroom segments illustrate how arts teachers employ seven “principles of artful teaching” to meet the needs and imaginations of their students. Participants explore how these principles can affect their own teaching. Subsequent sessions will examine each principle in depth, with examples from dance, music, theatre, and visual art.
2. Developing Students as Artists
In this session, participants explore how arts teachers help students develop knowledge and fundamental skills while weaving in opportunities for creativity and independence. In the video program, a dance teacher gives senior students leadership responsibilities and coaches them in their choreography projects. Then a theatre teacher mentors stagecraft students who are responsible for the technical aspects of a dance concert. In an intermediate visual arts course, a teacher builds on students’ prior learning in a foundation course. Finally, a vocal music teacher works with two classes: students learning to read music, and an advanced jazz ensemble.
3. Addressing the Diverse Needs of Students
Arts teachers are aware of and respond to the many differences they find among their students. In this program, participants meet a visiting theatre artist who takes advantage of the different backgrounds and learning styles of ninth-graders to help them understand and embrace the playwriting process. A visual art teacher brings together honors art students and students with disabilities, so they can learn from each other. As a music teacher works with different classes, she addresses needs common to all students. Finally, in a movement class for non-dance majors, teachers help students explore human anatomy.
4. Choosing Instructional Approaches
Arts teachers take on a variety of roles, and use many different instructional techniques, as they engage with their students. Teachers can be instructors, mentors, directors, coaches, artists, performers, collaborators, facilitators, critics, audience members. In this program, participants follow a vocal music teacher as she takes on different roles in order to encourage students to find creative solutions to artistic challenges. Next, an acting teacher becomes a facilitator as his students report on research about theatre history. Then a visual art teacher guides her students in a drawing assignment, varying her approach based on the students’ individual needs. Finally, two dance teachers engage students in critical analysis of a painting, as a way to encourage expression with words as well as movement.
5. Creating Rich Learning Environments
Arts teachers create a safe environment where students feel free to express their thoughts and feelings, and to take creative risks. In this program, participants meet an Acting I teacher who helps students let go of their inhibitions, and an Acting II teacher who encourages students to take creative risks as they interpret monologues. In dance class, a teacher asks students to work closely in pairs so they can study subtle aspects of movement technique. In a visual art department, the teachers work together to create a community that gives students multiple outlets for artistic learning. Finally, a music teacher builds his students’ confidence and skills as they learn the basics of improvisational singing.
6. Fostering Genuine Communication
Arts teachers communicate with students, and students communicate with each other, in respectful ways that encourage communication of original ideas through the arts. In this program, participants meet a dance teacher whose students draw choreographic inspiration from poetry and sign language. A visual art teacher gives her commercial art class a fanciful assignment that enables them to communicate a concrete idea through several visual media. A theatre teacher encourages student interaction around the dramatization and staging of fables. Finally, a vocal music teacher asks her students to use “descriptive praise” to critique the performance of a fellow singer.
7. Making the Most of Community Resources
Arts teachers develop relationships with community members and organizations by bringing artists into the classroom, taking students beyond school walls, and asking students to draw inspiration from the voices of their community. In this program, participants see a guest choreographer who challenges students with her working style and expectations. A visiting theatre artist helps playwriting students develop monologues based on interviews with people in the neighborhood. A visual art teacher and her students work with community members to create a sculpture garden in an empty courtyard at their school, drawing inspiration from a nearby sculpture park. A band teacher invites alumni and local professional musicians to sit in with her classes, giving students strong musical role models.
8. Nurturing Independent Thinkers
Arts teachers use formal and informal strategies to assess their students’ progress, and to modify their own teaching practice. In this program, participants meet a vocal music teacher who splits his choir into groups that give each other feedback; he also has students tape record themselves during rehearsal, so he can judge their individual progress. A dance teacher critiques original choreography by a student and asks the student's peers to participate in the process; this feedback helps the choreographer deepen the impact of her work. Next, theatre teachers give an in-depth critique to a student, and then ask him for feedback on their teaching. Finally, a visual art teacher helps students develop their observation and analysis skills throughout their high school careers, so that they learn to be their own best critics.