Training for Teaching Artists

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One of the City’s arts initiatives that I value a great deal is Randy Engstrom’s (director of the City’s arts office) Creative Advantage, an arts education program that aims by 2020 to see all students with access to sustained arts learning opportunities – from two hours of music and visual arts each week for elementary students to integrated and culturally relevant experiences, as well as career development opportunities for middle and high schoolers.

But how do artists learn how to teach, and in particular, get hired by schools? I recently came across the Washington State Teaching Artist Training (TAT) Lab, which is doing just that. TAT Lab is offering training for artists seeking basic teaching knowledge as well as artists experienced in teaching who are looking to enhance their skills, particularly in the areas of assessment strategies and learning plans.

The application deadline is Thursday, July 24, 2014.

As a professional development program that supports arts education as part of basic education in our state’s K-12 schools, their training isn’t free. Tuition for their 8-month program is $600, with scholarships covering up to half of that amount. To apply, artists need to complete TAT’s request for information form. After completing that, applicants will receive an email with a link to the full online application.

school-class-SAMTheir full online application includes questions about teaching artist background and experience, as well as three short-answer (100-200 words) narrative questions:

  • Briefly describe your history and current practice as a teaching artist (TA). How and why did you become a TA? Why do you pursue this work?
  • Tell us about a successful teaching artist experience that you’ve had — was there a moment where things just clicked? What was the setting (location, grade levels), and what was the outcome of this successful experience for you and/or for your students?
  • Why are you drawn to this professional development opportunity at this time? What do you hope to gain from it?

teaching-artistsIn addition to the online application form, applicants must submit a resume and a sample lesson plan emailed as attachments, either as a Word document or as a PDF, to with the subject line “TAT Lab Application.

The TAT Lab will include up to 36 teaching artists, working in all artistic disciplines and all regions of Washington State. The program runs September 2014 – April 2015. Participants will:

  • Attend three in-person training sessions lasting 2-3 days and held in Seattle
  • Participate in five 90-minute teleconferences facilitated by a teaching artist mentor
  • Learn about best practices in arts education through reading assignments and discussion
  • Develop a written learning plan to be implemented in a K-12 classroom
  • Receive ongoing, individualized support from teaching artist mentors and peers

teachingartistfacultyOrganizations that jointly created the original version of the TAT Lab in 2005: Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C., and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. We are especially grateful to the Seattle Rep for their role in evolving the model to serve all artistic disciplines, and partnering with the Washington State Arts Commission to develop the current statewide program, which was launched in 2011. After three successful years and 100 graduates, Seattle Children’s Theatre is coming on board to host the 2014-2015 program, joining other key arts and education partners: the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Arts Corps. Current faculty bios are available here.

Questions? Contact Karen Sharp at Seattle Children’s Theatre or Lisa Jaret at the Washington State Arts Commission.

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