Featured Blog: A Principal and a Clown Walk Onto a Stage...
For years, teaching artist Jeff Raz has incorporated clowning techniques into his teaching artist practice. Now, he has the chance to share that"wild idea" with other teaching artists with the creation of a unique pilot training program that puts the art of clowning in the middle of an arts magnet school. Pictured above is Jeff in clown mode, as a volunteer for "Circus for Arts in the Schools." Read more about this one-of-a-kind project in Jeff's blog below.
Community Conversations Update:
What We're Learning From Talking
to Teaching Artists Around the State About
Training and Certification
TASC's Sacramento community conversation held on Sept. 26th hosted participants from arts organizations, public schools, and universities, as well as independent teaching artists. Wayne Cook from the California Arts Council (pictured, center) was also there, listening in and participating.
TASC is mid-way through our series of regional community conversations with teaching artists from around the state to discuss and challenge ideas about teaching artist training and questions of certification. (See past newsletter articles here and here for background on this data-gathering project and the path leading up to it.)
So far in September, we've heard from over 60 teaching artists in Orange County, the Bay Area, and Sacramento. Next up, in October, we'll be hosting community conversations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Mono County. If you're interested in participating, please click on a location near you and register to let us know you're attending.
If you can't make it to an in-person event, please consider adding your voice by participating online, via survey.
What's been happening so far?
Here's just a brief, informal snapshot of what we've been learning regionally. (FYI, a full report will be completed and made available once all regions have reported in and we've had a chance to put it all together.)
A Framework for Conversation
As a common jumping-off point, we've started our community conversations with a look at a list of core competencies defined for teaching artists. This particular list encompasses aspects of teaching artist practice related to art form, learning environments, pedagogy, standards, and business know-how. It's a pretty good list -- we've put it on our website -- but we're not taking it as gospel. Check it out, and see how relevant it is to what you do. As teaching artists, does this reflect our reality now and where we're headed next? Are these good measures of "quality"? What does that even mean in terms of teaching artistry? How does all this fit into the certification question?
The framework is simple, but the conversation it's sparked has been informative -- even as it's generated more avenues for exploration.
In the words of one of our Orange County participants, "We don't need to know all the answers, but we do need to sit with the questions."
We can't wait to hear more from all of you! And, again, if you can't make it to an event to add your voice to the conversation, please take the online survey. In the meantime, here's just a little of what we've heard so far...
Above, Orange County community conversation participants break into groups to consider the four core competency topics and to analyze the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats ("SWOT") that might accompany certification.
We were pleased to see that our first community conversation in Orange County on Sept. 12th had a great turn-out, thanks in large part to ArtsOC, our regional partner for the event who was able to help get the word out. Hosted at The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana, we managed to squeeze twenty-six enthusiastic teaching artists into the room for a very thoughtful discussion on their own paths to becoming teaching artists and what opportunities and concerns may lie ahead with certification possibly on the horizon -- and what that would mean for both "newbies" and veterans. A rather inspiring observation: Orange County teaching artists really emphasized the importance of connecting among themselves and building a visible community of teaching artists in their area.
Quote of the day:
"We can be a bundle of sticks that we cannot break, a bigger family of teaching artists that can stay connected and keep this momentum going."
Click to read about two more community conversations that took place in the Bay Area and Sacramento.
Also, stay tuned for more to come from our next three regional community conversations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Mono County. And be part of the conversation! Attend a regional event or participate in the online survey. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Than a Number: The Role of the Arts in Youth Development Programs
By Jennifer Oliver, TASC Advisor
When a potential supporter for creative youth development approaches me, one of the first things I tell them is to look at the numbers. This model works. Students who participate in rigorous, arts-based after school programs perform better in school and have higher graduation rates than that of their peers who do not participate in the arts. I cite programs such as The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana, Say Si in San Antonio, ARTS in San Diego – the results are impressive. It is at this moment that I have their attention. I have connected my work to something they value: academic success.
As someone who has worked in the arts for my entire career, having people outside of the arts connect with what I do is addicting. For years I struggled with articulating the benefit of an arts education, and with one quick statistic, I have their support. Ironically, this addiction to being understood has left me feeling misunderstood.
On one hand, I have defined my life path through the arts, and I believe strongly that developing young artists is of great value. Artistry is the heart of my work. Tapping into the arts offers a pathway for students to access their deepest and most authentic selves. On the other hand, while helping students improve their academic scores and increasing student graduation rates is a goal of my work, it is not the core value. It is a desirable outcome, but it does not totally define their value as individuals and should not define the value of my program.
My personal academic history involved a struggle to find my individual value. I was not a great student. I was terrible at memorization and had a fear or being put on the spot. When a teacher would call on me to give the “correct” answer to a question, I would freeze. My heart rate would speed up, my mind would go blank, and I would have nothing to say. Tests were worse. I would leave many answers blank and exit the room feeling flawed. In fact, for much of my youth I truly believed I was just, “not smart.” When a child’s value is measured by their GPA score and their overall achievement in academics, many talented, intelligent students are left feeling displaced.
Click to read on and find out more about the values and research behind Creative Youth Development and how we can "place the child at the center."
In addition to being a member of the TASC Regional Advisory Council, Jennifer is the Artistic Director of A Step Beyond – a Creative Youth Development organization serving students through dance, academics, and social services.