The Art of Teaching Art

Teaching artists how to teach through LBC’s Professional Development programs

Educators, parents, and students agree that rich arts programs at school result in improved test scores and better attendance. They motivate students to care more about school and “own” their learning, while parents get more involved and teachers feel more committed to and satisfied with their work.

According to University of Chicago’s report Teaching Artists and the Future of Education, most of the major studies showing these kinds of results focus on programs led by teaching artists—educators working across a mix of in- and out-of-school settings (often part-time) while also pursuing careers as creative artists.

Teaching artists how to teach ensures that artists can effectively share their expertise and passion with students. Artists often possess deep technical skills and creative insights, but without pedagogical training, they might struggle to convey these concepts in a way that is accessible and engaging to students. Teaching artists how to teach also helps to foster a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. Artists who understand the principles of inclusive education can better address the diverse needs of their students, including those with different backgrounds, abilities, and learning challenges.

To support LBC’s teaching artists, whom we trust to take our arts education programs into local classrooms, LBC provides ongoing professional development opportunities with the support of the Farley Family Charitable Foundation. Workshops focus on standards-based lessons and evidence-backed techniques that teaching artists can take immediately into the classroom. Our four-part Teaching Artist Training course offered last year, for example, helped teaching artists develop skills in designing residencies that demonstrate to school partners the professionalism, instructional quality, and credibility of teaching artists. It covered the importance of drafting a residency plan that includes an arts-integrated topic, rationale, a residency description, expected results, responsibilities of the teachers, and an overview of each class or session.

The Teaching Artist Training course also included a workshop on designing lesson plans that improve student learning. Artists learned the components of effective lessons, saw them reflected in a lesson template, and applied their new understanding to their own teaching. The course included a classroom management workshop with artists to explore strategies that help students focus and participate meaningfully, while preventing behaviors that can disrupt a classroom, as they engage in a creative process.

A Teaching Artist practicum rounded out the Teaching Artist Training course by allowing artists to partner with LBC’s expert teaching artists for a hands-on, in-school experience. The practicum was offered in partnership with Creative Sonoma. Each year, LBC develops and presents similar workshops and opportunities that allow artists to explore the craft of teaching artistry.

LBC offers a Tools for Teachers series, available through our partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, focuses on standards-based lessons that teachers and teaching artists alike can take immediately back to their classrooms. Our 2023-24 Tools for Teachers course topics included Reaching Students with Autism in Your Classroom through the Arts, Bringing Books to Life, and Acting Right: Drama as a Classroom Management Strategy.

Farrah McAdam, dance educator, choreographer, facilitator, and artist who recently joined the LBC staff as a Curriculum Specialist, recalls the support she found in LBC’s teaching artist training: “Teaching artists often have to learn on the job, and that’s not the best strategy for the artist or the students. With LBC’s teacher training programs, I gained the right tools for the job as well as the confidence to put them into practice for my students.”

To learn more about LBC’s Professional Development programs, visit our professional development page.

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