A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an AERO (Arts Education Resource Organization) workshop on arts integration in the classroom. The La Jolla Playhouse’s Arts Academy showcased their model for co-teaching with teaching artists and classroom teachers, and the benefits of having the arts integrated in the classroom. Their model is an equal collaboration between a teaching artist and classroom teacher, integrating the arts into the educational material.
“I do, we do, you do.”
Throughout the workshop, presenters Julia and Lydia stressed the importance of equal partnership between the teaching artist and the classroom teacher. An “I do, we do, you do” model from both perspectives. A great collaboration happens when both parties are willing to learn and share ideas, and help each other with the execution of them. I spoke with one of the teaching artists on one of our breaks, and she was talking about how the classroom teacher that she is paired with grades papers and sits in the back on her phone when she is doing the arts programming. She was frustrated because the classroom teacher took her coming in as an excuse to relax, instead of co-teaching and getting the most of the collaboration. After listening to her, I too was feeling frustrated. I was upset that the teacher seemed to be too lazy and uninterested to learn about the arts portion and used it as an excuse to check out. However, right after I had this conversation and was feeling second-hand frustration, Jessica Baron, founder and director of Guitars in the Classroom got up to speak, bringing an entirely new perspective and understanding to the conversation. She brought up the point that classroom teachers are extremely vulnerable in front of their students. Kids can be quite the tough crowd, and teachers work hard to build rapport and respect with their class. They are comfortable teaching what they know. However, when they are faced with a new concept (theater, music, dance, etc.) that they are not confident in or familiar with, it can be a scary thing. The teacher may not want to risk failing in front of her class. Understanding that side of the conversation was important, and crucial for the teaching artists to understand a deeper level of the classroom teacher’s uncertainty with arts collaboration. The relationship between the teaching artist and must be one of respect, understanding, and a willingness to be open and try new things.
The presenters also brought up Bloom’s Taxonomy Pyramid levels of learning, and how the arts can be integrated in each step. The steps are create, evaluate, analyze, apply, understand, and remember. The co-teaching/collaboration must be occurring throughout all of these steps as well.
Though the program was demonstrated for theater, the transfers to music or really any other art form were easy to make. Music can bring in a new and innovative way to learn material, such as writing a song to remember the order of the presidents, putting a short story to music, and countless other ways.
To learn more about integrating arts into the classroom, or how you can be a part of these organizations, check out these sites:
“The mission of AERO is to build bridges between schools and the arts community, ensuring an arts-inclusive education for all San Diego County students.”