Guest Blog: What Constitutes Quality in Teaching Artistry?

What Constitutes Quality in Teaching Artistry?

The third in a series of guest blogs by Sandy Seufert, Manager of Curriculum and Teaching Artist Development at the Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County.

What is quality when it comes to either the practice or evaluation of teaching artistry? Since there is no accrediting body to sanctify the profession, how do organizations, teaching artists, and consumers of teaching artistry know when quality exists?

It's an important question. Some non-profit arts organizations do offer teaching artist training, yet many others hire artists that self-proclaim their status as a teaching artist with a wide variety of artistic and educational training, sometimes with very little of the latter.

There is also an argument in the teaching artist field as to the appropriate ratio of 'teacher' versus 'artist.' That aside, once one begins work as a teaching artist (in those many roles/incarnations), it is important to keep in mind the "diving rod" of quality. If you are one that enjoys reading educational theory, you would gather that there is a bit of a "sea change" going on. An ideal role of any teacher or teaching artist, I believe, is more that of being a guide or facilitator (more like a Sherpa) versus an all-knowing vesicle of knowledge (more like an Oracle).

So, thinking like a Sherpa, what kind of quality facilitation or guiding can a teaching artist achieve in the classroom? One strategy to consider is to really connect with your students. What concepts or ideas in your art form truly connect in a meaningful way to the lives of your students? One helpful lens to look through as you view your lessons is to imagine what skills, knowledge, insights, and attitude changes your students will have long after you finish your work with them. What in your teaching has real sticking power?

The beauty of arts education is that it does have the power to create a lasting impression or to create a lifelong curiosity in the arts. So, think about how you can facilitate those lasting outcomes in your students. And that is the beginning of real quality.

For more musings from some intellectual "heavy hitters" on this subject, read the "Qualities of Quality Report" from Steve Seidel and the team at Project Zero at Harvard.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and resources in the Comments section.