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The Art of Teaching the Arts: A Workshop for High School Teachers

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, or audience members. In this session, 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.

In this Program

Dance

Two dance teachers engage students in critical analysis of a painting, as a way to encourage expression with words as well as movement.

Music

A vocal music teacher takes on different roles to help students find creative solutions to artistic challenges.



Theatre

An acting teacher becomes a facilitator as his students report on research about theatre history.

Visual Arts

A visual art teacher guides her students in a drawing assignment, varying her approach based on the students’ individual needs.

Introduction

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, and audience members.

Sometimes teachers change roles in direct response to student needs. Other times they vary their approaches to meet curriculum goals. And often it’s just because it’s a natural fit with the art form. Teachers sometimes plan for this; other times they change roles in the moment.

Why does a teacher choose a particular instructional approach?

  • To motivate student inquiry and exploration
  • To develop critical thinking skills
  • To encourage creative solutions to artistic problems

Learning Goals
The goals of this workshop are for you to:

  • Identify the many roles arts teachers take on while working with their students
  • Describe your reasons for using the instructional approaches you favor most
  • Identify a teaching approach outside your current repertoire that you would like to incorporate into your teaching
  • Identify the features of effective coaching in the arts

 

Getting Ready

Look at the following list of teaching approaches. Check all the approaches you use regularly. Add any approaches that you find missing.

Then, indicate the three or four approaches that are most important to you in your teaching.

  • Coaching
  • Conferencing
  • Critiquing
  • Debates
  • Dialogue
  • Discussion
  • Field study
  • Group work
  • Guided practice

  • Inquiry
  • Journaling
  • Lecturing
  • Mentoring
  • Modeling
  • Peer tutoring
  • Problem-solving
  • Questioning
  • Role-playing


Compare your list with those of others in the group.

Discuss these questions:

  • What approaches are most common?
  • What do you think accounts for the overlap? The fact that you are all arts teachers? A shared philosophy of teaching?
  • Where do your approaches differ?
  • Do the lists vary according to art form? If so how, and why do you think this is?

FOCUS ON: Coaching - Music Ensemble

“As a coach, I find myself in a delicate balance of how much to intervene, and how much to step back… It’s a really fine, fine balance.” — Janice Hunton, music teacher

For arts teachers, coaching is one of the most important instructional approaches available. Hallmarks of good coaching include the following:

  • A focused aim for the intervention: A coach can target technical aspects of performance, or the coordination and balance between elements, between individuals, or between groups in the performance.
  • A balance between praise and criticism:Successful coaches find ways to alternate between critical appraisals and encouragement.
  • An appropriate amount of intervention: Too little intervention can leave learners floundering, or believing their performance is fine as is. Too much intervention can shut down the learning process or make learners too self-conscious.
  • Appropriate timing for interventions: Good coaches don’t intervene until learners have had a chance to work their way into a performance, to get beyond errors of nervousness.

NOW: Write and Reflect

Now we’d like you to write about your own classroom practice. Read the following questions and answer one in light of the students and art form you teach.

Questions to write and reflect about:

Watching the Program

(60 minutes)

The information sheets below provide helpful background on the schools, arts programs, and individual classes featured in each segment:

Segment 1: Music (PDF)
Segment 2: Theatre (PDF)
Segment 3: Visual Art (PDF)
Segment 4: Dance (PDF)

Consider the following questions as you watch the program. You may stop the video after each segment to discuss the questions with your colleagues.

MUSIC Janice Hunton Ear-Training/Ensemble/Choir

  • How does Janice vary her teaching approach in order to meet the specific challenges each group presents?
  • How do you vary your teaching style to help students find creative solutions to artistic problems?

THEATRE Joseph Mancuso Theatre History

  • In what ways is Joe successful in facilitating the work of his students in this project?
  • How do you determine the amount of support students need?

VISUAL ART Dale Zheutlin Face Project

  • What differences did you notice in Dale’s interactions with various students?
  • How do you know what role to choose with a particular student?

DANCE Mary Harding and Tom Kanthak Improvisation

  • How do Mary and Tom collaborate with their students and with each other?
  • How do you stimulate critical thinking among your students?

Activities and Discussion

(45 minutes)

Identify and Compare Successful Approaches

Choose one of the four program segments — on music, theatre, visual art, or dance — and identify the teaching approaches you saw used in it. Refer to the following list of teaching approaches, and add any that you think are missing.

  • Brainstorming
  • Coaching
  • Conferencing
  • Critiquing
  • Debates
  • Dialogue
  • Discussion
  • Field study
  • Group work
  • Guided practice

  • Inquiry
  • Journaling
  • Lecturing
  • Mentoring
  • Modeling
  • Peer tutoring
  • Problem-solving
  • Questioning
  • Role-playing


As a group, discuss these questions:

  • In the segment, which approaches did the teacher use most successfully or skillfully? Which were used less successfully or skillfully?
  • In reference to your own teaching: Which of the approaches you saw have you used with your own students? Which do you find to be most successful, and why? Which are most challenging, and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?

Finally, take a moment and jot down a specific idea you have for incorporating a new technique or approach into your teaching. Share your idea with a colleague.

Homework

Homework (On Your Own)

In your journal, write about educational research, a professor, or a class that has had a particular influence on your teaching. Reflect in writing on the following questions:

  • What is your philosophy of teaching?
  • How does that influence how you work with your students?
  • What are the big issues or challenges that you face in teaching at the high school level?

Additional Resources

Selected Classroom Materials

Theatre History Evaluation Rubric (PDF)
Rubric used by Joseph Mancuso to assess his students in Theatre History

GENERAL SITES
VUE Visual Understanding in Education
http://www.vue.org/
Information on the “visual thinking strategies” used by Mary Harding and Tom Kanthak

SCHOOL AND TEACHER SITES
Arts High School Music Department, Perpich Center for Arts Education
http://perpich.mn.gov/arts-high-school/music/         Select: Program Areas, then Music
Information on the music department where Janice Hunton teaches

Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School Performing Arts Dept.
http://www.scvths.org/programs.cfm?subpage=302984
Select: performing arts at scvths
Information on the performing arts program where Joseph Mancuso teaches

Mamaroneck High School Art Department
https://www.mamkschools.org/schools/mamaroneck-high-school/mamaroneck-high-school-departments/art        Select: Departments and Class Web Pages, then Art
Web page for the visual art department where Dale Zheutlin teaches

Arts High School Dance Department, Perpich Center for Arts Education
http://perpich.mn.gov/arts-high-school/dance/       Select: Program Areas, then Dance
Information on the dance department where Mary Harding and Tom Kanthak teach

In Print

Highet, Gilbert. The Art of Teaching, Vintage, reissue edition 1989. ISBN: 0679723145
A noted classicist presents his education methodology within the context of history, exploring the methods of instruction and the character and abilities that make a good professional teacher
Hogan, Kathleen, Pressley, Michael. Scaffolding Student Learning: Instructional Approaches and Issues. Brookline Books, 1997. ISBN: 1571290362

Explores educational scaffolding, which allows students to perform tasks that would be slightly beyond their ability without assistance and guidance from a teacher
Ottman, Robert. Music for Sight Singing, 5th edition. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 2001. ISBN: 013070587X

The book used in Janice Hunton’s ear-training class

Credits

Produced by Lavine Production Group, Inc., in collaboration with EDC's Center for Children and Technology and the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts. 2005.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-769-X

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