The artists are coming! Bringing teaching artists back to the classroom.

Posted on March 12, 2012 by Laurey Stryker, Ed.D., Digital Access for All Initiative Manager

By: Nancy Roucher, Arts Education Consultant

Thanks to the support of The Patterson Foundation, teaching artists will soon be added to the offerings for Sarasota teachers and students on EdExploreSRQ.

Imagine students learning the science of sound by building and playing a one-string guitar or doing improvisational drama to resist bullying or combining art, photos of space and astronomy by painting the planets.  These are just a sampling of the exciting opportunities coming to our classrooms! (Check out this Teaching Artists Research Project from the University of Chicago.)

The Teaching Artists will add another dimension to learning, with experiences in visual art, music, drama, dance/movement, film making, storytelling and writing, that connect to other subject areas as well as the benchmarks in Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and the Sarasota County School District's instructional focus calendars.

There is a precedent for working with Teaching Artists in our community through two previous programs. The Arts and Cultural Alliance (formerly the Sarasota County Arts Council) had a successful Artists in Schools program that offered a variety of residencies for 14 years, which was discontinued in 2007.

For three years, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall had a grant from The Dana Foundation that trained Teaching Artists in arts integration and exciting collaborations with classroom teachers. Without funding, both programs have been on hiatus.

In 2011  - with teachers asking when the artists would come back to the classroom– both organizations began to discuss the possibility of revitalizing the Artists in Schools/Teaching Artists programs. The positive response to organizations posting on EdExplore sparked the idea of adding artists to the EdExplore website.

The Arts and Cultural Alliance is taking the lead in re-designing the Teaching Artists program under the direction of Judy Levine, who acts as coordinator, assisted by Cindy Balistreri, Business Manager of the Alliance, and Nancy Roucher, Chair of the Arts Education Task Force of the Alliance. Judy is a visual artist, former art supervisor and director of teacher professional development at The Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.

The trio came up with criteria and a concept for Teaching Artists on EdExplore, in consultation with Angela Hartvigsen, Fine Arts Program Specialist for the School District, who monitors the website.  In addition to an interactive experience for the classroom, a key component is connecting the experience to the benchmarks and the instructional focus calendar. This element is essential in communicating to teachers that the Teaching Artist program directly addresses learning outcomes.

The Teaching Artists will also become Artrepreneurs. Previously artist residencies were arranged by a staff member of the Arts and Cultural Alliance or the Van Wezel, including contacting teachers, booking the residency, collecting fees and other administrative details. As Artepreneurs, Teaching Artists will now design their own residencies, establish their own fees and handle all the logistics.

Artists are required to take a six-session course, including a demonstration of EdExploreSRQ. They will be introduced to Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in the Art, Music, Theatre and Dance as well as Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science, and the Instructional Focus Calendar.

They also focus on two kinds of residencies: arts integration and pure content and methodology in the art form. They receive guidance in designing their exploration, including number of sessions, content, time, materials travel and responsibilities for both artist and teacher. Another part of the course is writing the exploration, addressing criteria, lesson plans and evaluation.

Twenty- four artists participated in the first training series and eleven artists are taking the second session, which runs until the end of March. Several artists are working on their exploration description and lesson plans, getting ready to give students the chance to make a movie by creating characters and scripts (and learning math and language arts too), integrating rhythm, math and percussion with drumming, making African banners and dancing through the ages to learn about history.

Watch for them on EdExploreSRQ!  The Artists are coming … invigorate, excite, delight and spur on learning!

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