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By Karen Weberman Leaping from Service to Sustainability in the Classroom

Arts integration developed from a critical need to shift traditional teaching and learning methods.

(L–R) Pre-K Classroom Teacher Paris Doss with

Interchange Teaching Artist with students from Jefferson Elementary School. Saint Louis, MO. Photo by Janelle Brooks.


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For decades, arts organizations and institutions across the country have passionately committed to partnering with schools to facilitate arts integrated residencies that bring teachers, students, and visiting teaching artists together for in-classroom learning experiences connecting the arts to core curriculum. These residencies are like snow flakes, no two are the exact same. An endless array of variables shape the flow of a residency, as residencies are a living, breathing, and shared learning experience. How are different arts organizations and institutions supporting and encouraging teachers to implement arts integrated instructional strategies into their classrooms beyond the residencies? What discoveries have arts administrators, teaching artists, and classroom teachers made along the journey? Are there best practices that have formed that have taken initial residency services to sustained arts integration in classrooms?

CURRENT REALITIES OF FOUR PROGRAMS Challenging Assumptions in Saint Louis, Missouri Arts program directors and administrators continuously reflect on what’s working, what’s not, and where they would like to see in-school programs go. Interchange is an “arts education collaborative program” of COCA (Center of Creative Arts) in Saint Louis, MO. Interchange follows a collaborative residency model in which it partners with arts organizations in Saint Louis to bring together teaching artists and classroom teachers for long-term residencies ranging from 8 to 16 one-hour classroom sessions. School Programs Manager Janelle Brooks speaks to a shift in Interchange’s thinking. “We’re finding out that some of the things we had made

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some assumptions about are not as effective as we want them to be. Like that pairing a teaching artist and classroom teacher and doing a residency together, it’s not a way to change teaching practice. It’s a way to have a great experience, and it is a way to impact learning in the classroom, but bringing this artist in and having them work with the classroom teacher and then the artist goes away … Maybe the classroom teacher keeps a game or an attention getting device, but as far as integrating the arts in their classroom on a continual basis, we’re not having that kind of impact on teachers through these experiences once we leave.” While Interchange offers a series of professional development workshops and an annual 2-day Summer Institute where teaching artists and classroom teachers participate in a variety of interactive workshops and partner together to develop prospective residencies, they are currently in a strategic review process proposing a more systematic, school-specific approach to professional development for teachers. This approach would provide ongoing professional development workshops on-site for teachers at their schools in addition to the classroom sessions with the teaching artists. These workshops will cater to school-specific needs pre, during, and post-residency, in addition to the handful of broader-based professional development workshops Interchange currently offers to all participating teachers in St. Louis Public Schools during the school year. Interchange Program Director Mark Cross reflects on teacher practice in the current collaborative residency model. “I think we have had some good results, I wouldn’t say that we have teachers who have become arts integration specialists in their classrooms but I think they’ve come to appreciate how the arts can support academics and how it can draw kids in that often have behavioral problems or don’t learn in a traditional way.”

Financial Investment in Portland, Oregon In order to provide ongoing support for classroom teachers, arts organizations and institutions continue to address sustainability from a practical financial perspective. The Right Brain Initiative (RBI) in Portland, Oregon follows a collaborative model in which it partners with arts organizations to conduct residencies and professional development trainings. RBI carefully scaffolds how the process is funded to foster commitment from schools. RBI Program Manager Marna Stalcup says, “Each year, school districts contribute $15 for every child in every participating school that becomes a fund for the school to bring in the artists. This program is designed so that the first two years a school is involved, they come on board gradually, and at no cost to the school district. In their third year of program involvement they’re in full implementation and that’s when the money kicks in. We call this the ‘infusion’ phase. In these schools, teachers and teaching artists co-design arts integrated learning experiences reaching every student at the school. That’s a requirement.” Funding for all of the other components of the Initiative, including professional development for classroom teachers and teaching artists, staffing, evaluation and documentation, and other program components come from an almost 50/50 public/private partnership of funding from the city to support the sustainable funding model. Forty-eight percent of public funding comes from the City of Portland, counties, state, and school districts. Fifty-two percent of private funding comes from foundations, corporations, individuals, in-kind, and other revenue. The Regional Arts & Culture Council manages the Initiative, and the contractual commitment required at a district level ensures that


funding is secure regardless of any leadership changes in individual schools. RBI Implementation Manager Carin Rosenberg believes that slowly folding in the whole school to the process benefits teacher practice and funding. “In order to make the program sustainable and affordable, we are helping schools learn the collaborative process required of the Initiative. It’s our intention to have every school move from having an arts integration coach to take on the planning and implementation of arts integration themselves. We see that schools understand it and are doing it well. We look forward to the day we’ll be at scale in over 200 schools.” Development Of Teachers And Teaching Artists in Austin, Texas As the field of teaching artistry continues to develop, there is a movement to provide practical and academic training to emerging professional teaching artists. Drama for Schools (DFS) is “a collaborative professional development program model in drama-based instruction in association with The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance.” MFA candidates in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program are “drama specialists” who facilitate professional development sessions and collaborate with classroom teachers to implement in-school residencies rooted in drama-based instruction (DBI). DFS Drama Specialist Lara Dossett says, “All of the grad students who work for Drama for Schools are specialists. In the outside world, we’re called teaching artists. Katie Dawson, the Drama for Schools director, gave us that title to empower us.” DFS has existed for over 10 years partnering with schools and districts throughout the country, and while it will continue to remain its own entity as a university program, they are now setting out on a new collaboration with MINDPOP, the coordinating body of the Kennedy


Center’s “Any Given Child” initiative in Austin. Dossett says, “The Any Given Child initiative has partnered with Austin Independent School District, MINDPOP, and the City of Austin to transition all public schools to ‘arts rich’ campuses in 10 years. This includes in-school and out of school arts programs and performances, as well as professional development for teachers in the district in arts-based instruction and arts integration. Every school will have access to the arts: theatre, visual arts, dance, music, and media arts.” DFS is playing a substantial role in planning and implementing these professional development programs for teachers. Sarah Coleman, a graduate of the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program and former DFS drama specialist, holds a newly created position as MINDPOP/Drama for Schools professional development manager, serving as a con-

sultant to MINDPOP from DFS. Coleman speaks to the challenges and benefits to DFS. “DFS is a program within a university, it’s not a non-profit arts organization that’s working towards traditional increments of growth. This can be a huge challenge for us and a huge gift. The biggest challenge that DFS faces is the turnover. We have graduate students with us for 3 years, and it often takes a full year for them to learn the pedagogy, learning how to make a relationship with the teacher who is new to this work. One of the things that’s so important about this program is that it’s within a university setting, allowing you to learn through the work. As a grad student, it’s such a rich in-depth practical experience. Students can go and continue this quality work wherever else in the country they may end up. After graduation, when former students continue to implement DBI in schools with teachers, that’s another way of viewing sustainability.”

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with up to 3 core groups of students. The TAP is an arts integration model for 60 days in one classroom, where the teaching artist and classroom teacher are co-teaching and there’s a debriefing structure. The process goes really deep in just one classroom. So the TAP is a real level of commitment from the school, teacher, and artist.” While the TAP model is so new that Dunlap is able to reflect solely on the first completed TAP residency, she’s noticed great shifts. Dunlap says, “We can really see the significant impact these projects can have on not only the students, but the teachers and artists as well.”

3-D models of the 2012 Summer Institute Teaching Philosophies; Drama for Schools (DFS). University of Texas at Austin. Austin, TX. Photo by Elizabeth Walsh.

Deepening Commitment With Teacher Artist Partnerships in Pennsylvania One of the greatest challenges residency programs face is access to minutes in classrooms. The negotiation of residency length is a delicate one. The Arts in Education Division of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is exploring how a deeper commitment to in-school time benefits teacher practice and student experience. The Council primarily focuses on arts in education partnerships through a de-centralized model with 13 partners in 67 counties in the state. Program Director Jamie Dunlap speaks to a shift in residency focus in a newer model called TAP. “The Teacher Artist Partnerships (TAP) model, they’re different than our standard residencies. Standard residencies are 10 to 20 days

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COLLABORATIVE NOURISHMENT IN THE CLASSROOM Collaboration exists at the heart of all of these residency programs. As teachers move through the layered process of a residency, how does collaboration feed into their comfort with applying arts integrated instructional strategies into their classrooms? Sixth grade teacher Shawna Munson at Quatama Elementary School in Hillsboro, Oregon describes how Right Brain Initiative’s (RBI) professional development workshops have fostered ownership of arts integrated strategies in her school. “When we go to these workshops our principals have us come back and teach the staff the strategy we learned. Every other week we have what’s called ‘academic seminar.’ So, two times a month we have different teachers who spend 15 minutes of our staff development meetings teaching an arts integrated strategy. It trickles down. We’re kind of like teacher/leaders. We

all take the responsibility to teach one another. I think having all your teachers on board is really important for that.” Munson emphatically discusses a change in her teaching practice. “There’s been a huge shift in my teaching. When I’m developing my lessons, I’m looking at ways to have movement and collaboration and different types of art forms within each lesson. We have what we call in my class ‘Tableau Tuesday.’ Tableau Tuesday is the highlight of my week!” Co-teaching and mentorship helped 4th and 5th grade teacher Amber Pleasant at Austin Discovery School (ADS) embrace her experience with Drama for Schools (DFS). “I was working with a DFS coteacher when drama-based instruction was first introduced at ADS, and they did a really good job scaffolding how to do that with the teachers. The process began with presenting and then teaming us up with a mentor who would lesson plan with us and then come in and teamteach with us, gently guiding us towards independently planning and leading the lessons. The way that it was introduced really helped ease us into being more comfortable with it.” The DFS 2-week Summer Institute also inspired Pleasant and her colleagues to continue applying techniques learned throughout the year. “I just think whenever teachers have an opportunity to share plans together, share ideas, that’s when we get creative and get confident. We come in and observe each other. When the team of teachers went to the institute last summer, one of the things that we left with was a real desire to have teachers observe each other and build strategies and keep a file of plans. There’s already a DBI website, but we thought we’d localize one for our campus.”


“Is it our goal to work ourselves out of a job?” 

Janel l e Brooks

Sixth grade teacher Julia Goodon at Mason Elementary School in Saint Louis, Missouri says her experience collaborating with Interchange supports and enhances core content, particularly social studies, for which she doesn’t always have time. “We breeze through these topics in the textbook but when an artist comes in we work more in-depth and it really makes an impact. This really does make an impact in students’ memories, very extensively. I think this really builds their confidence, and they feel comfortable. I know it’s important for me to participate and not just sit back and watch. Because I’ve observed the artist and participated in it, I can do it again.” Fourth grade teacher Jane Gilrain at Freemansburg Elementary School in Freemansburg, Pennsylvania brings a unique perspective to the TAP she is currently participating in, as she was a theatre and teaching artist for 25 years prior to becoming a teacher. “What’s unique about the TAP model is the ‘debriefing’ process that happens between the artist and the teacher. In my 25 years of experience working in artist in residence programs in schools, I never participated in such a process. At the end of every TAP session, the observer (teacher or artist) objectively describes the lesson without value judgment, while the presenter (artist or teacher) listens. The presenter, then has a chance to agree or disagree on the details. Once an agreement is reached, both presenter and observer discuss the learning outcomes and plan for the next lesson. Finally, both artist and teacher evaluate the analytical process that occurred during the debriefing. I have found this regular feedback to be extremely valuable to me as a teacher. It is wonderful to see and hear a reflection of all the details that go into creating the classroom environment and the learning experience.”


ENVISIONING SUSTAINABILITY As residency programs continue to figure out how to best meet the needs of teachers in an ever-evolving education system, the discussion of transitioning from service to sustainability stirs up a variety of reactions. Is it a realistic residency outcome to change teacher practice? What does sustainability of teachers continuing to apply arts integrated instructional strategies on their own look like? Is it possible to hinder future employment opportunities for teaching artists if the goal is to make this work sustainable for teachers? Interchange and Metro Theater Company teaching artist Roxane McWilliams brings up part of a larger conversation that teaching artists are having nationally. “I don’t feel that we’re out there to change teacher practice. I feel that we’re out there to partner with the classroom teachers. They have specific strengths and we have specific strengths … maybe it’s just shifting teacher perspective. If we’re just bent on changing teacher practices then what’s the point of us sustaining ourselves as teaching artists? Because then they’ll have everything we have and we’re a non-entity.” Brooks has also spoken about the proposed outcome of residencies with colleagues and wonders, “Is it our goal to work ourselves out of a job? Is that where we want to end up? Do we want them to be self-sustaining? And I really think the answer is no. Because it’s just a shifting of the role of the arts in the classroom. There will always be something to be said for team teaching and there will always be something to

be said about what the artist brings to the experience. So it’s not that the teaching artist goes away at the end, it’s that the nature of the relationship has changed.” Munson speaks from her own classroom experience. “I think it’s very powerful to have the artist bring their craft and skill that they’ve mastered and really teach the kids about the art form. Because as a teacher I’m pretty much a generalist, so there’s a lot of things I can do, but by no means am I an expert at any one art form. My own practice is sustainable to a certain point, but an artist coming in can only enrich and strengthen my own teaching experience.” RBI teaching artist and Director of Education and Outreach at Oregon Ballet Theatre Kasandra Gruener believes that professional development is an important component to supporting classroom teachers on a long-term basis. “Teachers have a lot of pressures put upon them. I just feel so respectful of the hard challenges teachers face. They have economic problems in their schools, causing them to struggle for resources. When the professional development they get from outside sources is supported and funded in all they do, we as teaching artists are able to effectively support teachers. The sustainability part of arts integration staying in the academic world, staying in the classroom comes from teachers having had professional development in the arts.” TAP visual art teaching artist Judeth Hawkins completed a 2 year 90-session residency with a 4th grade teacher and reflects on teaching artists in the field: “I think integrating the arts into classroom curriculum is headed in the right direction.

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We need to work with more teachers and encourage the teachers who have had a successful experience with an artist to mentor other teachers. I strongly believe that it is important to allow the artists to remain primarily artists and not turn them into art teachers. It is a significant difference. There is a fine line to walk and a tricky balancing act in becoming a successful teaching artist. Unfortunately, simply giving lesson plans to a teacher does not create arts integration. It is important for teachers to observe artists in the classroom and experience working with artists. We must offer, maybe even require, arts integration classes to education students in college.” Dossett passionately shares what sustainability looks like to her. “I am of the belief that every teacher can teach through the arts, and I believe that every teacher can

teach through the arts well with training. If we can create spaces where teachers feel supported to understand the pedagogical and practical nature of the work, then I think that sustainability looks like classroom teachers who take our work and make it work for their context. That’s one of the reasons I believe in arts-based instruction and arts integration, I think anyone that really wants to can own a piece of this work for themselves.” Thinking about follow-through after a residency is over, Dossett says, “You never want to leave them entirely, its always really important to ‘leave the door wide open, call me anytime you need, email, we will make time.’ You and I now have a professional and personal relationship, I want this to be something that is useful and meaningful and something that you are going to use in your practice for a long time.”

While different residency programs approach, view, and accept the chal­ lenging quest of leaping from service to sustainability in various ways, they joyfully hold the continual sharing and practice of arts integration in the classroom in the highest regard. While arts administrators, teaching artists, and teachers may not know exactly where they will land in the residency process and beyond, they continue to leap again and again.

Karen Weberman is the education director at Metro Theater Company in Saint Louis, Missouri. She holds an MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida.

Chicago Playworks for Families & Young Audiences Presents:

Hansel and Gretel by Moses Goldberg directed by Ann Wakefield

OCT 15 NOV 16, 2013

Number the Stars

Jackie and Me

by Dr. Douglas W. Larche with Susan Elliott Larche based on the novel by Lois Lowry directed by Ernie Nolan

by Steven Dietz directed by John Jenkins

JAN 18 – FEB 22, 2014

APRIL 8– MAY 10, 2014

at DePaul’s historic Merle Reskin Theatre 60 E Balbo Dr, Chicago | 312 922 1999 |

spring 2013


Arts Integration and Beyond by Karen Weberman  

Article published in TYA TODAY Spring 2013 issue.

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