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Supporting Educational Dance Programs
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS
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The Utah Dance Education Organization (UDEO) is a non-profit state organization dedicated to the art form of dance as an essential educational component of lifelong learning. It is a state affiliate of the National Dance Education Organization and supported by a board of professionals in the field of dance education. One of the primary goals of UDEO is to build and support public school dance programs aimed at supporting the development of the whole person in and through dance.
UDEO board members and members of UDEO have come together to create this resource for school administration looking to support and grow educational dance programs in their school.
INDICATORS OF A STRONG DANCE PROGRAM
Provides a form of healthy personal expression
Connects cognitive, physical, social, and emotional domains in authentic ways
Develops collaborative and interpersonal skills, along with civic engagement
Celebrates diversity of learning styles, culture, gender, ability, level, and student interests
Fosters inclusive school climates with cross-disciplinary work
Centered around the Utah Core Standards in Dance: create, perform, respond, connect
Directed by a certified/licensed and visionary dance educator
Cultivates creativity, individual voice, and innovation
Includes and supports healthy views of all students regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, abilities, and background
Connects students to rich dance learning opportunities
Prepares students for continued dance studies and post-graduation opportunities
Collaborates with the school and community to create and produce meaningful projects
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECONDARY STUDENT RECOGNITION IN DANCE
Outstanding Student Choreography Award at the Utah High School Dance Festival (UHSDF)
Superior Ratings from adjudication at UHSDF
Outstanding Student Award presented at UHSDF
Inductee of National Honor Society of Dance Arts
Deseret News Dance Sterling Scholar Program
Shakespeare Festival Competition
Community Involvement & Art for Social Change
National Reflections Contest
DOES A TROPHY MATTER?
A trophy can be impressive, but an decontextualized memento does not signify authentic learning processes. Student growth, depth of thought, flow, and self-actualization are not easily identified in competitive programs that delineate winners and losers. Students should be recognized for their work, but trophies are not the only way.
Educational dance values festivals and adjudication over competitions and point systems. Adjudication involves professional dance artists observing dance works with the purpose of providing descriptive feedback. Students receive insights about salient moments, artistic impact, and aesthetic aspects of their work. They are encouraged to implement the feedback in their future creative endeavors; and to continue honing their craft as dancers, artists, choreographers, and problem solvers. Thus, adjudication becomes a significant component in the learning cycle, not an endpoint punctuated with a trophy.
HIRING A QUALITY DANCE TEACHER
Tips and Recommendations for Administrators
Recruiting and hiring highly qualified educators is a challenging endeavor. Dance education experts from all over the state have compiled the following tips and recommendations for interviewing, screening, and hiring teacher candidates for your school. We hope you find this document useful and effective.
Tip #1: Recruit from the best pool
Data shows that 'knowing someone' really does make a difference with hiring. Don't let the word-of-mouth process limit your hiring pool. Connecting with organizations like UDEO, university programs, and professional companies can make a big difference. Here's a list of helpful contacts to get you started:
- UDEO President & Executive Director, udeo.org
- BYU Dance Education Coordinator, dance.byu.edu
- BYU ARTS Partnership Director, education.byu.edu/arts/
- UVU Dance Education Coordinator, uvu.edu/dance/
- Weber State Dance Education Coordinator, weber.edu/performingarts/dance.html
- Southern Utah University Dance Education Coordinator, www.suu.edu/pva/ta/
Tip #2: Consider license, degrees, certifications, and accreditation
Does the candidate have a dance education teaching license/certification?
Evaluate your candidate's degree and program accreditation. Colleges and universities may sponsor dance experiences, but not an accredited educational dance program. Verify experience in a variety of courses taken in theory, technique, history, kinesiology, and pedagogy.
Tip #3: Investigate pedagogical approaches and dispositions
1. Does the candidate express pedagogical viewpoints, approaches, and dispositions that support:
- Creative development and personal expression?
- Scientifically-based dance training?
- Inclusivity of all abilities, genres, cultures, etc.?
- Developmentally appropriate content that considers the whole child, and supports physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being?
- The school goals, educational philosophy, and community standards?
2. Does the candidate indicate a commitment to renewal and professional growth?
3. What is the candidate's philosophy on competition vs. adjudication?
Tip #4: Observe candidates teach
Observing candidates teach in an authentic setting will best demonstrate student-centered approaches, content/core curriculum commitment, and teacher presence. You may also want to request to view a sample of the candidate's choreography.
Tip #5: Ask the right questions
- What is your favorite core arts standard to teach and why? Could you give an example of an activity that would teach this core standard?
- Explain a typical lesson plan for you. What could a student expect to do and learn in your class?
- Describe your choreographic process. How does it compare to your teaching process?
- Choose one of the following statements that resonates with you and explain why:
- Dance is entertainment
- Dance is art
- Dance is exercise
- Dance is culture
- Dance is for everyone
- Dance is education
- How do you anticipate adapting to the multicultural needs in your classroom? What does a culturally responsive dance classroom look like?
- How will you connect students to higher education and career opportunities in dance?
- Literacy is a big school goal. How will you support reading and writing in your dance classroom?
- If the candidate teaches a class, ask: What reflections do you have about the class you taught? What do you feel was successful? What would you modify for the future?
- What is/are one or two of your favorite dance genres to teach and why? Every dance genre has value, but these follow-up questions may reveal candidate dispositions, depth of knowledge, and/or priorities.
How would you respond to a student if s/he said, "Modern dance is weird?"
How will you deepen students' learning in hip-hop considering sensationalized conceptions, cultural appropriation, and crude music and video associations?
Some students might claim that ballet is old-school. How would you help them get excited about this genre?
Competitions are a critical part of ballroom, how do you cultivate healthy attitudes and self-esteem in a highly competitive genre?
Many students only associate contemporary dance with what they see on TV's So You Think You Can Dance. How will you help broaden their perspectives?
SUPPORTING DANCE EDUCATORS
Connecting with Professional Organizations and Associations
The educator assigned to direct a dance program is the number one factor in determining the impact and success of that program. Teachers who feel connected, inspired, and supported are best prepared to meet the demands of a job in public education and serve the individual needs of their students.
The Utah Dance Education Organization (UDEO) can help you:
- provide professional development for dance educators
- inspire teacher renewal
- facilitate networking opportunities
- increase opportunities for student enrichment
The following is a list of UDEO services and other opportunities offered by professional organizations to support teachers of dance in public schools:
UDEO Fall Conference for Educators:
The UDEO Fall conference provides dance educators an opportunity to learn, share, and gain new ideas for the studio, stage, and classroom. Dance educators are able to hone their pedagogical and artistic skills while learning from educators and artists that are moving the field of dance education forward. The UDEO Lifetime Achievement Award and the UDEO Educator of the Year are awarded at this event. Dance educators are recognized for their achievements and for the impact they have had on their students and schools that they have served.
UDEO sponsors webinars every few months on various topics that encourage, support, and inspire dance educators in a flexible and convenient way. Past webinars and the schedule for future events can be found on udeo.org.
National Dance Education Organization Conference (NDEO)
Held annually in the fall, a typical NDEO National Conference includes three full days of over 200 workshops, master classes, panel and paper presentations, social events, and performances. A full day of pre-conference intensives precedes the official start of conference. www.ndeo.org
Ririe-Woodbury Teacher Workshop (Secondary)
Held each summer at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, the Ririe-Woodbury's Teacher Workshop is designed for teachers who are working in the university, professional, and/or secondary school settings. Shared experiences in technique, improvisation, choreography, and body conditioning provide participants the opportunity for artistic growth and rejuvenation. The participants address the Utah Fine Arts Core Curriculum requirements, trends in the field, and issues of dance training and dance making in order to increase and elevate the skills and practices of teaching in the field. www.ririewoodbury.com
Repertory Dance Theatre Professional Development Workshops In-Service Workshops (Secondary)
Repertory Dance Theatre offers teachers a better understanding of the Core Dance Standards, builds their confidence level, and helps them acquire new skills to be successful in teaching the Dance Core in their classroom. Through mentoring, RDT helps teachers understand that dance is essential in the life of a healthy, productive society and that experiences in creative dance develop complex thinking skills, effective communication, and collaboration. Teachers will explore lesson plans, study guides, create movement together, and be inspired to include movement in their teaching styles. www.rdt.org
SUPPORTING DANCE STUDENTS
Connecting with Professional Organizations and Associations
Professional organizations and associations provide opportunities for student enrichment that often a single dance educator or dance program could not provide on their own such as festivals, adjudications, auditions, etc. Professional organizations can enrich dance education experiences that prepare students for post-graduation endeavors.
Supporting Secondary Dance Students
Utah High School Dance Festival
The Utah High School Dance Festival boasts attendance of approximately 800 students annually. Supported by the Utah School Board of Education, the festival offers a multitude of opportunities for high school students including:
- auditions for scholarships from university and professional dance programs
- adjudications and feedback sessions with dance professionals from universities and professional dance companies from throughout the state
- introduction to recruiters from colleges and universities in Utah and surrounding states
- classes with a wide range of professionals from various genres and cultural dance forms
- recognition of members of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts
- performing in the gala performance
- awards for student choreography and performance excellence
Free Professional Performances
Local professional dance companies offer students free tickets to their student matinees that are abbreviated versions of their full-length evening performances performed during the school day. All you need to do is provide the transportation to the performance space. Check local university dance departments for opportunities to view college level performances.
Ballet West: firstname.lastname@example.org
Repertory Dance Theatre: email@example.com
Children's Dance Theatre: firstname.lastname@example.org
University Days of Dance
Many university dance programs will host high school students on campus for a full day of workshops, campus tours, and audition experience. Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Utah Valley University each provide their own day of dance, as may others. Check your local universities's dance program websites for more information.
Professional dance companies in Utah (such as Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury, Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company, SALT, and others) send their dancers to choreograph for junior high and high school dance companies. This experience provides students with the opportunity to work closely with professional dancers and choreographers. Contact local dance companies in your area for more information on providing a professional guest artist for your students.
National Honor Society of Dance Arts
UDEO as a state affiliate of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), proudly supports the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) for middle and high school age students in Kâ12 schools. Inducted students are encouraged to include their membership in scholarship packets and/or resumes for college or dance employment. All students inducted receive:
- a certificate of membership in the NHSDA
- an NHSDA honor cord and gold pin for graduation ceremonies
- invitations to participate in resume building and college preparation events
- mailings generated by the state chapters
- Summer Dance Workshops
- Sterling Scholar
- Reflections Contests
Supporting Elementary Dance Students
Supported by funding from the legislature, POPS Programs (Professional Outreach Programs for Schools) provide affordable arts experiences for students in elementary school. Check out more information on POPS programs at popsutah.org.
Ballet West for Children - Ballet West
Kids in Motion Two-week Residency - Ririe Woodbury
Dance is for Everybody! - Ririe Woodbury
Teacher Workshops & Lecture Demonstrations - Children's Dance Theatre
RDT Movement Classes & Lecture Demonstrations - Repertory Dance Theatre
Kinnect Dance Company - Brigham Young University Dance Department
Traditionz Folk Dance Ensemble - Brigham Young University Dance Department
Take your students on a field trip to see a live performance in a professional performance hall. Students can experience concert etiquette; full professional production elements including sound, lighting, and stage design; and experience the magic of the ephemeral moments only the performing arts provide.
In-Theatre Student Performances - Ballet West
BYU Arts School Matinees - Brigham Young University
SUPPORTING DANCE PROGRAMS
How Administrators Can Foster a Program That Thrives
Provide support for the dance educator
- Support new and veteran dance educators with funds for professional development to renew the exhausted or inspire the eager.
- Pay for subs or find creative solutions to free up time for professional development. For example, theater and dance educators could rotate on a schedule of combining classes to allow one educator to attend professional development.
- Allow time for dance educators to network through UDEO or district-wide, region, or state PLCs. Often a fine arts or physical education PLC at the school does not provide in-depth content support for a singleton dance teacher.
- Provide opportunities for dance educators to be mentored and receive individual instructional coaching as needed.
- Get involved! Attend dance concerts, activities, and events.
Market the dance program
- Share the achievements of the dance students and programs through school newsletters, banners, posters, and marquees.
- Inform the community of the impact dance and the arts have on your students and school.
Utilize social capitol
- Network with other administrators, ask about their dance programs, get new ideas by understanding what is working for them.
- Manage your connections in your community to provide opportunities for students to participate civically and/or to raise funds to support learning. Talk to businesses and families in your area who support dance, want to promote community values, or are interested in partnering with the arts to raise awareness of school and community issues.
Create a safe, aesthetic dance space
- Do what you can, when you can, but make safety and aesthetics a priority.
- A hardwood sprung floor is the optimal flooring for a dance space as it minimizes impact on joints for the safety of dancers.
- A studio with mirrors - and curtains to cover the mirrors - is ideal. Mirrors develop a sense of awareness and allow dancers to self-correct and be precise in their movement, while covering mirrors helps students find inner connectivity and reduces inhibitions.
- A dance studio needs sufficient wall space for white boards, bulletins, student storage, and supplies. A dance program needs sufficient storage for costumes, props, mats, etc.
- Be creative! Consider alternative spaces such as a stage, cafeteria, or media center for dance class or request a double-wide trailer if remodeling is not an option.
Balance class sizes
- In the development of safe technical skills and artful performance skills, students need frequent one-on-one mentoring and enough space to safely explore broad ranges of movement. A crowded class can threaten a student's safety and their access to the feedback they need for success and safety.
- In elementary schools, classes should not combine for dance instruction to be sure there is enough space for safety and to allow the dance instructor time and space to give appropriate feedback to develop young artists.
- In a secondary school, a social dance class may host more students due to the formation-based organization of the movement being performed.
The following are recommendations for class sizes in secondary schools based on subject being taught:
- Dance I, Dance II, and Dance III courses between 20-25 students, but 30 students may be possible depending upon the specific instructor and dimensions of the space.
- Social Dance courses between 40-46 students.
- Dance Company, 12-40 students depending on the vision and purpose of the program.
Exhibit student learning through concerts
- A dance concert will require various costumes, music accompaniment, lighting cues, and technical production elements. The art form of dance considers production elements, such as costume and lighting design, to be an integral part of the artistry displayed on stage.
- Work with your dance educator; theater educator; or stage support to rent, borrow, or purchase the needed equipment and supplies to support an artistic dance production.
Balance the budget
- Build the budget with fundraisers, community donations, grants, and partnerships.
- Work with the dance teacher, parents, and other administrators to stretch the budget. Sometimes, the priciest costumes could be forfeited for a great workshop, or a new sound system.
- Be aware of grants offered through community organizations in your area or the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, and work with your dance director to seek more funding when needed.
- Dance educators have pedagogical strategies and collaborative skills that make them valuable team members. Invite them to participate in school leadership; to mentor other teachers; and give input on how they believe dance, and the arts, can better support the school's goals, mission, and vision, along with the individual learning needs of different students.
Supporting Educational Theatre Programs
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS
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Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers (UACTT) seeks to advance theater as a vital component of a student's educational experience. The main objective of UACTT is to organize a community of theater educators dedicated to rigorous instruction and performance training for theater students across the state of Utah.
The following pages are intended to support administrators in establishing a quality educational theater program at their school.
Value of an Educational Theater Program
The study of humanity is the intent of theater as an art form. Theater education offers every student opportunities for creativity, confidence, and collaboration.
National, state, and district theater standards have been selected to provide every student equal access to a thorough theater education. By creating, performing, responding, and connecting to theater arts, students connect to the world around them and develop important skills and dispositions.
- Personal expression
- Ability to articulate ideas
- Skills in contextual writing through script and character analysis
- Respect and tolerance for ideas outside their own
- Understanding and empathy for the human condition
INDICATORS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL THEATER PROGRAM
Content structure in accordance with national, state, and district fine arts standards
Collaboration involving artists, actors, designers, stage managers, and educators
Student creativity and follow-through responsibility
Strong support and positive feedback from student body, faculty, administration, community, and district
Inclusion of individuals of all backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and orientations
Project-based experiential learning
Leadership by a highly qualified theater educator
Efficient use of classroom and rehearsal time
HIRING A QUALITY THEATER EDUCATOR
Here is a detailed list of suggestions for hiring a quality theater educator.
- Include current theater educators in the hiring process
- Require a portfolio of the applicants' work and experience, both in theater and with students
- Check for understanding of the fine arts standards, classroom management, rehearsal processes, lesson planning, and arts education philosophy
- Check references - one of the most critical needs when hiring a qualified theater teacher
The theater educator you choose for your program must be highly qualified with a bachelor's or master's degree in theater or theater education; experience as a professional actor or stage technician is not enough. The art of teaching theater must include students' intellectual, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, and performance skills don't equate to teaching capability. An applicant relying on experience must have professional development as an educator. Recognizing the personal influence a theater instructor may have, also look for qualities you would like to see emulated by your students in the program.
In areas where a highly qualified theater educator is not available, administrators must provide tools, materials, and compensation enabling the educator to become endorsed in teaching theater. The UACTT organization and the USOE can provide resources for educators seeking endorsements.
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT OF THEATER EDUCATORS
A vital component of a successful theater program is the support provided by the administrative team. Hiring a quality educator is simply the first step. Once your theater educator is in place, consider the following:
- Provide a mentor for them in the building.
- Seek out the district arts coordinator and notify them of a new hire.
- Discuss expectations regarding budgets, performances, and auditorium expectations.
- Attend their classroom, especially before and after a performance. Wishing the teacher and their students "break a leg" is actually a good thing!
- Maintain classroom size. It can be dangerous when too many students are put into a theater class. Discuss what is manageable with your theater teacher.
- Attend performances! This is where you can see the effects of your theater educator's work. Also, when the community sees you at a performance they know it is important.
Assessing a Theater Educator or Program
What weight should be put on recognition, accolades, and trophies?
While being recognized for excellence in theater arts is important, the success of a theater educator or the validity of an educational theater program should not hinge on whether a trophy is awarded. There are many opportunities throughout the state for theater programs to be recognized for outstanding achievement. Those accolades should be acknowledged and celebrated!
Realize, however, that wonderful opportunities for learning are happening in your theater department even without those awards. The best way to assess the effectiveness of a theater program and a theater educator's effectiveness is to spend time in theater classes and at rehearsals with the teacher and students.
Understanding State Theater Standards
Being familiar with the state theater standards will aid you in assessing, developing, supporting, and maintaining a high-functioning theater program at your school. Evaluating student work in each of these areas will aid you in assuring the theater educator is focused on standards in the classroom. The fine arts standards are comprised of four strands:
Students will conceptualize, generate, develop, and organize artistic ideas and work. They will complete and refine drama works.
Students will analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for performance. They will develop techniques and concepts to refine artistic work and ex press meaning through the presentation of drama works.
Students will perceive and analyze artistic work and process. They will interpret intent and meaning and apply criteria to evaluate artistic work and process.
Students will synthesize and relate knowledge from personal and collaborative experiences to make and receive art. They will relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
SUPPORTING THEATER EDUCATORS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Skills Acquired by Participation in a Quality Educational Theater Program:
- Collaboration and team work
- Public speaking
- Problem solving
- Awareness of humanity in yourself and others
- Understanding of the world and your position in it
A 21st Century Theater Environment
A well-equipped theater classroom/theater will contribute more to educating the student than most realize. Access to adequate classroom and rehearsal space, manageable classroom sizes, correct and up-to-date technical equipment, scripts, costumes, props, materials for set construction, and technology for research and analysis. This access will supplement classroom learning, and enable the teacher to meet standards in creating, performing, responding, and connecting to theater.
Theater students need a designated performance space and time. Performances are summative assessments that show what knowledge and skills the student has acquired in the theater classroom. The space provided must be clean and safe for student performers and audience members to enjoy the performance.
Educators can and should provide data as evidence of student learning. Theater educators are required and equipped to teach national-, state-, and district-level standards. Clear and concise rubrics with clear definitions and measurable data should be compiled. Growth can be chartered and eventually proven in well-prepared products, which might range from performances to aspects such as analysis, script writing, and design.
Utah Theatre Association (UTA)
The Utah Theatre Association holds an annual conference providing secondary education students and teachers opportunities to expand their knowledge of theater, connect with theater peers and professionals, and celebrate creation of educational theater.
Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers (UACTT)
Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers strengthens educators across the state of Utah through professional networking and development, training, and communication. UACTT provides regular professional development opportunities and a yearly conference focusing on workshops, professional training, and collaboration. UACTT Outstanding Theatre Educators of the Year awards are presented to novice, master, and sterling theater educators, nominated by their peers.
The Educational Theatre Association
The Educational Theatre Association's Professional Development Intensives (PDIs) programs consist of one or two day interactive, hands-on opportunities for theater educators to develop their arsenal of professional skills on a specific topic. Topics range from directing a musical, to curriculum development, to stage lighting.
EdTA's PDI seminars also allow attendees to advance a graduate degree or earn credit required for continuing education.
The PDI program is typically run in conjunction with other Educational Theatre Association events, such as the International Thespian Festival or the EdTA National Conference. Attendees can minimize their time out of the classroom, maximize their budget for professional development, and allow for wider networking opportunities.
American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE)
Membership in AATE brings you face-to-face with new people, new plays, new techniques, and new contacts in the world of theater and education. Join a national and international network of top professionals, scholars, and students who share a passion for stimulating young people and communities through the theater arts.
AATE Annual National Conference
The field's most talked about conference, where theater-specific artists and educators exchange expertise in an atmosphere of fun, warmth, and professionalism unmatched anywhere. Members are offered a discounted registration rate.
AATE brings you networking on a grand scale - through thrilling special interest projects both online and in person - as well as special networking access to the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), Americans for the Arts (AFTA), and other important organizations such as ATHE, TYA/USA, EDTA, CTFA and more. Your AATE member email updates flag just what you need, when you need it, and you're always in touch with key people to make things happen.
AATE Annual Symposium
AATE teams up and co-presents an annual symposium with different theater organizations, where theater artists and educators can discuss a particular subject. Symposiums provide hands-on workshops, collaborative opportunities, panel discussions, performances, and so much more. Leave with practical tools and gain skills that can benefit your workplace and community. Members are offered a discounted registration rate.
AATE Resources and Programs
AATE brings you access to unique funding opportunities; lesson plans; production photos; online forums; searchable member lists; online career postings; and innovative, groundbreaking programs, such as Theater In Our Schools (TIOS), Playwrights In Our Schools, the prestigious AATE Leadership Institute, arts and research awards and scholarships, and much more.
AATE Online Workshops
AATE's online programming aims to provide professional development opportunities to theater educators through interactive sessions with experts in the field. Workshops are accessible via the internet and can be attended synchronously or asynchronously. CEU's are offered for all workshops, these can be used for recertification or credit; certificates of attendance are provided following the completion of the workshop to certify these hours.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECONDARY STUDENT RECOGNITION IN THEATER
Utah High School Shakespeare Competition, scholarships available
Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards, scholarships available
Region and state drama competitions
Speech/Drama Sterling Scholar, scholarships available
Utah Theatre Association Conference Outstanding Student from each school
International Thespian Society, scholarships available
International Thespian Society (ITS)
Recognition from an international honor society is a strong addition to student and program honors in attracting respect from the school, community, and colleges.
As members of ITS, your students will be honored on a national level and have access to resources beyond those of their school.
ITS state and national events, including the International Thespian Festival, with workshops and arrangements for college and scholarship auditions, along with opportunities to showcase and receive assessment on tech and performance skills.
A membership card, certificate, and induction pin.
Print and digital subscriptions to Dramatics magazine, the only publication edited exclusively for theater students and teachers.
Student leadership opportunities at the troupe, state, and national levels; providing forums to learn and put their leadership skills to work.
ITS honor society membership to enhance college and employment applications.
Supporting Educational Music Programs
Considerations for Administrators
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Music embodies the expression, emotion, feelings, and the creativity of humanity. Music connects us to each other both far and wide, and to those in the past and in the present. It is a unifying art form that excites, calms, satisfies, and stimulates our emotions and feelings. Learning about and performing music binds people together and brings a sense of belonging and self confidence.
Music is an intricate body of knowledge with a history tied to every human culture. Learning about and performing music provides a window to understanding human interaction over time. Through music, one can reach and hope to understand every extremity of human existence and experience.
Music provides high intellectual engagement and develops 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Students learn to multitask, communicate non-verbally, rely on their senses to balance with others in time and space, and work creatively within a system of symbols.
Utah Music Educators Association is a professional organization for school music teachers. UMEA believes the inclusion of standards-based music education in the school day provides a well-rounded education; giving Utah students opportunity and environment to lay a foundation for a full and rich life. UMEA seeks to:
Insure every school student in Utah has equal access to a sequential music education taught by a certified music educator
Improve the quality of teaching, research, and scholarship in music
Foster the utilization of the most effective pre-service and in-service preparation of music teachers
Promote the involvement of persons of all ages in learning music
Build a vital musical culture and an enlightened musical public for the benefit and general welfare of all persons
In an effort to assist administrators in their desire to support educational music programs, we offer the following resources:
INDICATORS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL MUSIC PROGRAM
Courses are taught by highly qualified, certified music teachers, licensed through the Utah State Board of Education.
Instruction is based on Utah State Core Music Standards including the strands CREATE, PERFORM, RESPOND, and CONNECT.
A variety of courses are available. Core performance ensembles (choirs, bands, orchestras); other performance ensembles such as guitar, percussion, musical theater as teacher expertise and student body numbers permit; courses for general music interest such as Piano Lab, Music Theory/Composition, Music History, World Music, Music Appreciation, and Music Exploration.
Teachers actively engage in professional development. Administrators support teachers when they desire to attend workshops, conferences, and other training.
Program is supported by administration in funding and scheduling. Music programs need adequate funding for instruments, equipment, uniforms, music, and supplies. Scheduling support includes building a master schedule that minimizes conflicts of singleton music classes.
Music courses demonstrate consistent quality and maintain healthy student enrollment. Teachers are actively engaged in helping students achieve excellence in music literacy and performance. This may be demonstrated in performances throughout the school year and participation in music festivals where ratings and adjudicator comments are received.
BENEFITS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL MUSIC PROGRAM
Participation in music education develops the whole child: physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively.
Music unifies students as they work together producing a musical performance.
Music develops creativity, promotes higher-order thinking skills, instills disciplined work habits, and correlates with gains in standardized test scores.
Music education develops social and emotional skills, resiliency, and enhances sensitivity to others and understanding of self.
Educational achievement through student engagement, improved attendance, and increased motivation.
HIRING A QUALITY MUSIC EDUCATOR
Hiring the right highly qualified music educator will have a lasting impact on the students of your school. Below are some tips and suggestions to consider when hiring a music educator.
The candidate should have a current license to teach music through the Utah State Board of Education. This assures that the candidate has pedagogical training. Experience solely in music performance is not always an indicator that the candidate will be successful as a music educator.
Include other arts teachers in the interview/screening process. Consider those in your school and other schools in your cone-site who will work closely with the new music educator. Also, seek input from your district arts coordinator.
Observe the candidate in rehearsal with students for 10-15 minutes. Ask the students what they think of the candidate. If possible, have other arts educators observe the rehearsal and have a candid discussion about how the candidate will work with their team. Collaboration between team members in the performing arts is critical.
Look at the candidate's music experience on their resume. Evaluate the variety in their experiences. A wide base of music experience can be a good indicator of teaching success. Find out how long they have been participating in music. Have they had private lessons? Have they taught private lessons? Have they taught music to large ensembles? Do they currently perform music outside of school teaching?
Contact the candidate's previous administrator and former team members. What did they see as the candidate's strengths and weaknesses?
What are their philosophies? What are their philosophies regarding music education; classroom management and environment; music repertoire choice; festival participation; tours; collaboration with other school arts educators? Do these philosophies match up with the vision provided in your district, school, or team? Ask them about the state core music standards for their content area. What is their five-year vision for the school music program?
Look into a candidate's unofficial portfolio. It is very common to find video or audio recordings of a music director's ensemble performances on the internet. See if what you hear and see is what you are looking for. Also look into past festival ratings which are often posted on the UMEA website (high school).
Check candidate's references. For a candidate who has just graduated from college, contact their student teaching mentor-teacher and their supervising music education professor.
Consider these sample questions:
- What types of ensembles have you directed?
- What styles of music are you most comfortable directing?
- What are your most important considerations when choosing music for an ensemble?
- Are you planning on attending region, state, and other festivals?
- What professional development have you attended?
- Who have been your mentors and what did you learn from them?
- What has been your experience with organizing travel?
EVALUATING A MUSIC EDUCATOR
Evaluating a music educator is different than evaluating a teacher in other content area. Excellence in music performance is a process. An administrator may evaluate a teacher at any point in that process, thus leaving different indicators of success at any given time. Music teachers are constantly formatively assessing by observation and listening in the music classroom, and student mastery is demonstrated through group and individual performance and less by quantitative data.
Indicators of a successful music educator could include:
- Teachers adapt lesson plans based on formative assessment of performance.
- Teachers successfully assess students in groups and as individuals.
- Teachers successfully engage students throughout the class period.
- Teachers can envision the finished music product and can articulate what needs to be done to obtain that vision.
- Teachers allow time for students to reflect on what the music means to them.
- Teachers' knowledge of and passion for music are evident.
- Teachers model correct concepts and skills.
- Teachers create an environment where students want to be and can form lasting relationships with peers in the program.
NAfME (National Association for Music Education) provides a document that can assist administrators in evaluating teachers and student achievement in a music classroom: https://nafme.org/wp-content/files/2014/07/teacher_evaluation.pdf.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR MUSIC EDUCATORS
Utah Music Educators Association provides professional development for all music teachers, including support for rural and âsingletonâ teachers in schools and districts.
Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA). UMEA is an affiliate of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) and is dedicated to improving existing music programs and creating opportunities for musical learning, growth and leadership through the following professional development opportunities.
UMEA Annual Mid-Winter Professional Development Conference. Held at the Dixie Center in St. George on the first Friday-Saturday in February.
UMEA All-State Rehearsals and State Large Group Festivals. While the primary benefit is to individual students, teachers have the opportunity to observe master teachers at work with All-State ensembles. During festivals, teachers receive feedback from adjudicators and clinicians from all over the country.
National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Membership in UMEA (https://umea.us) includes membership in NAfME (National Association for Music Education https://nafme.org) NAfME/UMEA offerings include:
- Annual professional development conferences
- Magazines and professional research journals
- Online professional development
- "Amplify" - A collaborative digital community of over 60,000 music educators https://nafme.org/my-classroom/nafme-amplify-online-member-community/
- "NAfME Academy" - Professional development webinars for subscribers https://nafme.org/community/elearning/
Area-Specific Professional Organizations. These organizations provide focused professional development to directors of specific ensembles through conferences, publications, and online offerings. Most of these organizations have a Utah affiliate group.
- National Band Association (Utah Bandmasters Association) https://nationalbandassociation.org/
- American Choral Directors Association (ACDA Utah) https://www.acdautah.org/
- American String Teachers Association (Utah ASTA) http://www.utahasta.com/
- Jazz Education Network http://jazzednet.org/
- Percussive Arts Society (Utah PAS) http://community.pas.org/utah/home
- Midwest Band Clinic: International Band and Orchestra Conference midwestclinic.org
- Conn-Selmer Institute School Partnership Program education.conn-selmer.com
- Musicians Toolkit: Music Education Reimagined musicianstoolkit.com
EDUCATIONAL MUSIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS
UMEA and UHSAA provide the following opportunities for Utah secondary school music students:
UMEA All-State Ensembles. Through a selection process, members of school music ensembles can participate in All-State ensembles (choir, band, orchestra, and jazz band) at the Junior High School and High School levels.
UHSAA High School Region Music Festivals. Each USHAA region holds annual high school festivals for solos and small ensembles (including chamber choirs and percussion ensembles), large instrumental groups (bands and orchestras), jazz bands, and choirs. Region festivals are adjudicated by certified experts in the state. Individuals and groups that qualify are invited to participate in state festivals. Note: Some school districts hold similar festivals for junior high school individuals and groups. Check with your district arts coordinator.
UMEA/UHSAA High School State Music Festivals. USHAA sponsors an annual State Solo and Ensemble Festival where those who qualified through their region USHAA festival can receive additional comments from qualified adjudicators.
UMEA sponsors annual festivals for Utah high school and junior high school large ensembles (concert bands, large choirs, orchestras, and jazz bands). For high school ensembles, participation in a state festival requires a qualifying score from a UHSAA region festival. For junior high school ensembles, participation in a state festival involves a screening process including an audition recording.
UMEA also sponsors a circuit of regional marching band competitions and a state high school marching band competition.
UMEA Area Honor Ensembles. In rural locations where there may not be regular opportunities for music students to experience large group ensemble performance with full instrumentation/voices, UMEA sponsors area honor ensemble experiences. With UMEA support, local teachers pool resources and bring together students for a weekend honor group experience with rehearsals and performance under the direction of an invited clinician.
Other Annual Events:
- University-/college-sponsored music festivals for high school and junior high school ensembles (Spring)
- University/College Honor Ensembles
- Utah State Fair Jazz Festival (September)
- Utah Percussive Arts SocietyâDay of Percussion (March)
- Utah Symphony âSide-by-Sideâ Performance (May)
Post-Graduation Opportunities in Music. Many scholarships are available to members of university/college performance ensembles. Scholarship recipients do not have to major in music to obtain these types of scholarships.
Music study in secondary school can lead to majoring in music at the collegiate level. Bachelor degree options include music performance, music education, music production, music therapy, etc.
Placings vs. Ratings
Trophies, or placing is not the award system used in most Utah music festivals. First, second and third place does not truly reflect achievement in music. Two performances can be very different and score equally well. Music festivals are not a competition between groups but rather a comparison of each group to a standard. A rubric is used to âstandardizeâ the critical elements of music performance (refer to https://www.uhsaa.org/music/forms/LargeInstrumentalEns.pdf for a sample of the rubric). Every group in a festival who demonstrates a high standard on the music they perform could come away from the festival with a superior rating.
A system from 1 to 5 is used (with + and -)
This is very similar to a grading scale (A to F with +/-)
I - Superior
II - Excellent
III - Good
IV - Fair
V - Poor
The rubric contains fundamental music performance categories such as tone, intonation, rhythm and tempo, balance and blend, articulation and diction, etc. From this rubric, an overall rating is awarded by the adjudicator after determining the level of excellence in each category. The adjudicator also gives comments, in writing and/or via audio recording to further contextualize the rating. Ratings are subjective and based on an adjudicatorâs previous experience and knowledge of the rubric. Teachers and students can use festival ratings and adjudicator comments as a guideline for skill improvement. At the region level, superior ratings allow qualification to state festivals. High ratings can be an indicator of strong teaching, but should not be used exclusively to determine the effectiveness of a music teacher.
What is an Appropriate Class Size?
Performance classes can vary in size. Large numbers in one class may provide justification for low numbers in another class; for example, a 90-member band class and a 12-member percussion class. Music educators are often comfortable with large class sizes, however, when numbers get unwieldy it is suggested that an additional teacher be hired to support the growth of the program.
For non-performance music classes traditional class size consideration may apply, but may need to be limited based upon equipment and technology availability.
LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL MUSIC PROGRAMS
The National Association for Music Education has prepared a document called "Opportunity to Learn Standards." The standards are recommendations for curriculum, scheduling, staffing, materials, and equipment for music programs in all grade levels and all content areas based on the student body numbers in a school. It can be viewed at nafme.org/wp-content/files/2014/11/Opportunity-to-Learn-Standards_May2015.pdf Below is a summary of some of the logistical recommendations in the "Opportunity to Learn Standards."
Materials and Equipment
High-quality pianos (acoustic and digital). Acoustic pianos (tuned at least three times a year) available in choral and instrumental rehearsal space and performance venue.
Sufficient and sturdy music stands.
Sufficient chairs designed for music classes.
Portable choral risers.
Undamaged "student line" instruments sufficient for program size (see instrument lists below).
Annual maintenance budget of school-owned instruments and equipment equal to at least 5% of current replacement value.
Depreciation and replacement plan for school-owned instruments and equipment.
Music rooms equipped with a high-quality sound system capable of using current recording technology.
A music library that contains music appropriate for various skill levels and various ensembles. Sufficient original copies are available so there is no violation of copyright laws.
Music rooms should have appropriate acoustical properties.
Music rooms are isolated by an acoustical barrier or wall with a Sound Transmission Classification (STC) of 50 or more.
In an auditorium or other performance spaces, lighting and ventilation systems should not exceed Noise Criterion levels of 20; no more than 30 in rehearsal rooms and practice rooms.
Sufficient structured storage space is available to store instruments, equipment, and instructional materials.
Quality performance space allows students to demonstrate learning and growth in a summative evaluation setting. In music education, this summative assessment (concert or festival performance) is a necessary part of the music learning process; much like standardized testing in a STEM class.
String, woodwind, and brass instruments needed for traditional ensemble instrumentation are provided where students have difficulty in purchasing instruments due to financial hardship. Typically, violins, violas, cellos, flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and guitars can be rented or purchased by students from local retailers. However, it is best practice to have some of these instruments available for students to rent from the school district. Other instruments are not typically available for rent so schools should have the following as part of their basic instrument inventory: string basses, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinets, oboes, bassoons, french horns, bass trombone, baritone horns, and tubas.
Percussion instruments provided by the school for a basic band/orchestra program include: concert snare drum, pedal timpani, concert bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbals, tambourines, triangles, xylophone, marimba, orchestra bells, and other assorted equipment.
Jazz band basic instruments include a drum set and electric bass guitar with amplifier.
Consult with the band educator about equipment needs for a marching band.
The music educator should keep careful inventory of school-/district- owned instruments and equipment, and they should monitor careful and responsible use.
If a school initially invests in high quality instruments and equipment, and commits to regular maintenance of the items, they will last for many years.
The following should be available for use in music instruction: computers and appropriate software, including notation, sequencing, and audio editing software; printers, audio and video input and output devices; and electronic keyboards.
Supporting Educational Arts Programs
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS
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INDICATORS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL ARTS PROGRAM
Centers around the Utah State Core Standards in Visual Arts. Four major standards are included: create, present, respond, and connect. Creating should be the core component to any art classroom, but a successful art program should include the other standards as well: opportunities to share their work with others, present it in an organized way, respond to othersâ work and connect with their classmates. Good art programs help students connect art projects with their world and develop critical 21st century skills that will prepare them for the future.
Encourages artistic innovation as well as skills. Art skills are taught, not as ends in themselves, but to equip students to create innovative and original works of art. A strong program allows each student to explore his own artistic voice through a variety of media, styles, and genres. Studentsâ desire to take more classes, diverse student portfolios, and their preparation efforts toward post-graduation programs are all indicators of a strong visual arts program.
Teaches students life skills and develops learning dispositions. A successful art room is a place where deeper learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, citizenship, and character are taught. These skills are essential for life and can be utilized in any situation or career. Whether a student becomes an artist or not, each individual should be taught in a way that develops empathy, personal exploration, connection with others, work ethic, and other 21st century skills.
Teaches literacy skills. Students need to be taught visual literacy: the ability to recognize, interpret, and create their own visual communication. Artists use elements of art and principles of design, color theory, and typography to design products, logos, and media that touch every aspect of our lives. In art classes, students not only learn how to express information, ideas, and emotions in traditional media, but also learn how to use technology such as photo editing software, graphic design programs, video editing programs, etc. to communicate in an aesthetic and powerful way.
Must be directed by a highly qualified art instructor. Art should be taught by someone who is an expert in both visual arts and educational pedagogy; the individual must be certified with a teaching license.
Receives support from a strong professional learning community that fosters professional development. Art teachers who collaborate with other professionals become more effective teachers, learn new content, share ideas, and rekindle their passion for art and for teaching. Professional development can be facilitated within school departments, districts, and online forums, as well as statewide or national organizations. A teacher who collaborates avoids stagnation and continues to progress.
Obtains support from the school and community. A successful art program requires a committed investment from the school administration that will support additional art classes by hiring more teachers rather than simply overfilling classes. Strong programs showcase each teacher's interests and strengths, encouraging each to contribute ideas for new classes. A successful program needs appropriate and safe classroom spaces equipped with materials required for the subjects and skills taught. Supporting art shows both within and outside of the school allows students to be recognized for their work and encourages the community to feel involved.
Includes and respects all abilities, genres, cultures, sexual orientations, religions, and races. The art room should be a safe space for students of all cultural backgrounds and experiences - a place where students of all abilities are given opportunities to learn and improve.
STRATEGIES FOR HIRING ARTS EDUCATORS
Include the current art teachers in the hiring process. The art teachers who will be working with the new hire can recognize the artistic ability of the applicant and provide insight into situations that might be specific to the position being filled. Involving the other teachers also shows whether the applicant will get along, both personally and professionally, with the rest of the educators in the department.
Have the art applicants bring a portfolio of artwork and describe their own artistic habits and experience. At the secondary level, students must respect their art teachers, not only as educators, but also as artists, in order to build relationships of trust. An applicantâs portfolio reveals her skill level, media preferences, experience, style, and interests, showing ways she will contribute to the school and if she will be a good fit for the department. Some strong educators are weaker artists, and some highly capable artists are weaker educators; administrators need to find one who is strong in both areas.
Prepare some questions you might want to consider in an interview.
What are some procedures you will teach your students in the first few weeks as you set policies and procedures for classroom management?
How do you give feedback to students in timely and meaningful ways?
What do you think a good art program should look like?
How do you anticipate that collaboration will help you as a teacher? What things do you feel you need help with right now?
Do you belong to any professional organizations? Were you involved with student extracurricular organizations in high school or college, particularly pertaining to art?
How do you feel you can foster creativity and self-expression in your students?
How are you going to engage students who feel like they are not artists, the ones who are only in your classroom for a credit? How can they feel successful?
Describe a lesson you have taught that you consider particularly successful?
How do you conduct critiques in the classroom? How do you give students opportunities to communicate with each other about their ideas and finished artwork?
What have you created recently that matters to you? Why does it matter to you?
Interview the applicant's previous administrator, cooperating teacher, or other references. An applicantâs charisma, communication skills, artistic ability, and classroom ideas can be apparent in an interview; however, it is wise to also learn how the applicant gets along with others, including co-workers and students, along with general reactions from someone who has actually observed the individual teach.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ART EDUCATORS
Utah Art Education Association (UAEA). The main professional community for art teachers in Utah is the Utah Art Education Association. UAEA connects all art educators in the state, from elementary to higher education, including both public and charter schools. UAEA hosts two conferences a year (spring and fall), which provide keynote presenters and workshops on a variety of topics. The fall conference is usually focused on art making: teaching art teachers new media and processes and giving them time to create artwork of their own.
The spring "Art in the Sun" conference holds a pre-conference event on the Thursday preceding the conference. During the Paint Out (painting) and Throw Down (ceramics) events, a professional artist teaches a lesson and then the teachers create their own pieces. Teachers have an opportunity to find renewal in making art, not just teaching it. Friday begins with a keynote presenter, and then splits secondary teachers into content-specific networking PLCs and sends elementary teachers to the Share Fair to exchange project ideas. Dozens of workshops address a wide variety of topics: introductions to new media and processes, ways to incorporate art history, discussions about pedagogy, ways to use technology in the classroom, and use of helpful teaching resources, to name just a few. Administrators can support their art teachers attending these conferences by providing assistance with subs, travel, and conference registration fees.
UAEA offers valuable opportunities for people across the state and across content areas to connect and support each other. Its website informs teachers about professional development opportunities, grant opportunities, online resources, and art competitions/events such as Youth Arts Month. UAEA is also developing more online resources, such as webinars to reach out to those who can't attend the conferences in person. UAEA runs an awards program that recognizes great teachers across the state and nominates them for national awards. Another mission of UAEA is to advocate for the arts across the state by promoting the good things happening in the arts and bringing up issues that members should be aware of. UAEA also provides opportunities for leadership and networking through participating in one of the numerous committees that function within the UAEA board. To learn more, visit the website at uaeaarted.org.
Mentoring. A new teacher must have a mentor to help him through his first year of teaching at a new school, helping him to learn how to motivate students, avoid pitfalls, plan out a curriculum, and utilize effective classroom management, as well as encouraging him when things get hard, etc. New teachers need to feel like they have an ally and a friend at the school.
District Collaborations. If possible, provide teachers a scheduled collaboration time with other teachers in the same content area. Most art teachers are the only one in their school to teach their specialty; opportunities should be created for these teachers to collaborate across the district or state. For example, a ceramics teacher will gain more from collaborating with a ceramics teacher from a different school than from working with her in-school colleague who teaches oil painting. Professional development is more likely to occur if built into the schedule during contract time.
Utah Division of Arts and Museums Grants. UDAM encourages professional development for teachers by offering Arts Learning Grants, which provides funds for educators to invite artists to partner with their students for specific projects. UDAM also offers Teacher Initiated Project (TIP) grants, allowing a teacher to study with a professional in any area of the fine arts either one-on-one or in a small group. Thus the teacher is able to develop his own skills and passions. These grants can be found at https://heritage.utah.gov/utah-division-of-arts-museums/grants
Utah Teachers of Art History (UTAH). The Utah Teachers of Art History (UTAH) is a professional learning community for art history teachers, which is affiliated with UAEA. Art history is often taught by history or English/ Humanities teachers. The goal of UTAH is to connect art history teachers with each other so they don't feel so isolated and to encourage them to share resources and best practices. A Google Drive folder has been set up to share lesson ideas, assessment questions, review games, articles and video resources, etc. UTAH has also partnered with the University of Utah to provide numerous content-specific lectures to educate teachers about the complex and varied works of art found within the curriculum. UTAH continues professional development by ensuring that art history workshops are included in all UAEA conferences. https://utaharteducation.weebly.com
Evening 4 Educators (E4E). The Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools (POPS) funds the Evening 4 Educators events. These opportunities are sponsored by the different art museums across the state. Each E4E lasts three hours, usually from 6:00-9:00, and offers two to three breakout sessions that might tie in with a particular exhibit. Teachers can count these hours for relicensure points. www.smofa.org/e4e.ph
National Organizations: Art Teachers can access quality professional development opportunities by joining national organizations such as the National Art Education Association (NAEA), www.arteducators.org, or the National Council on Education for The Ceramic Arts (NCECA) https://nceca.net. In addition to providing conferences, these organizations offer webinars, resources, lesson plans, advocacy materials, etc.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS IN THE VISUAL ARTS
Portfolios, Art Shows, Scholarships, Competitions
All-State High School Show at Springville Museum of Art. Each year in February and March, the Springville Art Museum hosts the All-State High School Show for juniors and seniors. Each school is allocated a certain number of entries based on the school population and previous success. This show is professionally juried; acceptance is an honor. Visiting the exhibition allows students to see accomplishments of their peers across the state. For more information visit smofa.org.
Springville Art Museum Portfolio Review Day. On a Saturday in the fall, high school seniors are invited to bring their portfolio and meet with representatives of art programs across the state and country, learning about different programs in the state, receiving professional feedback on their own artwork, and becoming familiar with visual arts scholarships. www.smofa.org/portfolio-day.php
Youth Arts Month (YAM). March is the NAEA/UAEA-sponsored Youth Arts Month, during which each school is invited to join in advocating for the arts in that month specifically. YAM also sponsors a flag design competition. The winning designer receives a cash prize along with art supplies, and their design is made into a flag to represent Utah at the NAEA convention. https://www.arteducators.org/news/articles/10-youth-art-month-yam
UAEA Catherine Ford Scholarship. Each year, UAEA invites high school seniors who are interested in pursuing art or art education in college to apply for the Catherine Ford Scholarship. To raise funds for this scholarship, art educators donate their own artwork to be auctioned; one or two scholarships are awarded according to the amount raised. Scholarship applicants are selected based on a personal essay, their artwork, and a teacher recommendation. http://uaeaarted.org/event/catherine-ford-student-scholarship/
COMPONENTS OF A QUALITY VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM
Quality Teachers. The most important aspect of a quality art program is a teacher who will provide stability and enable an art program to grow. Passionate teachers attract students to their classes and motivate students to take additional art classes. It is much easier to build a program if a teacher is full-time rather than half- or part-time. If the position is not attractive, it will be hard to retain great teachers necessary to make a program successful.
Manageable Class Sizes. Art classes provide opportunities for nearly all students to feel successful. However, when the class is too full, teachers have difficulty managing the number and giving personal attention to each student. Administrators are advised to have a discussion with each art teacher to see how many students the physical environment can accommodate: including the size of the room and the number of seats available, as well as the number of computers or other equipment that can be provided. As students with special needs, language challenges, and behavior issues can find success in art classes, many students needing accommodations are likely to be enrolled. If an art class has a high percentage of students needing special consideration, additional art teachers may be needed.
Properly Equipped Classrooms. Every art teacher should have her own classroom equipped with a large sink for art production and cleanup (multiple sinks encouraged), as well as sufficient storage space for art materials and student work. A ceramics classroom should have sinks with a clay trap to prevent the pipes from clogging with clay, as well as a ventilation system designed to suck dust particles out of the air. (Exposure to clay dust year after year is a health hazard for a ceramics teacher.) The kiln (or kilns), which must meet OSHA standards, should have a separate space with plenty of ventilation in a different room from the one where students work.
Materials. As art supplies are expensive, the lab fees must be sufficient to cover the art teacher's basic needs. New art teachers might need administration help in setting up a basic classroom and getting a class set of materials such as paint, brushes, colored pencils, etc. Some materials including paper, clay, and tape are used up quickly and must be frequently replenished, but other materials can be used several years after the start-up purchase. Administrators need to recognize that materials for some classes are much more expensive than for others depending on the media required. The administration should also be willing to allocate funds to purchase and maintain more expensive items such as printing presses, mat cutters, ceramics wheels, kilns, computers, cameras, etc.
Displays and Galleries. The state core standards include presentation, so displaying student artwork is an important component of a successful program. Ideally, schools would be designed with built-in display cases or gallery space built right into the building. If these are not available, wall space can be designated in the hallways or a common area for student artwork. Portable display boards such as Pro Panels can be set up in the hallways, library, or commons area to put together an exhibition. Administrators can show support by purchasing permanent student and professional artwork for the hallways, media center, office, and/or classrooms.
Art Shows. An authentic motivation for art students is to display their work in art shows. Because many shows require the artwork to be matted and framed, the art department should have financial support available to purchase the mat board and frames.
Support. Art teachers need the support of their faculty and administration. Art teachers and custodians should be able to work together to keep a clean and safe environment. Art teachers must feel that their administrator values the arts, including their subject specialty, and their hard work in teaching. Administrators can show support by highlighting the art department's achievements, giving art teachers the resources they need, and supporting their art teachers' professional development.
SUGGESTION FOR VISUAL ARTS SPECIALIST SCHEDULES
The following scheduling recommendations for elementary arts specialists are based on data from a study conducted by Tara Carpenter Estrada (BYU), Rachel Wadham (BYU), and Molly Neeves (researcher and former elementary art teacher) in 2018 & 2019. The study included a state-wide survey and focus groups of elementary art specialists.
Class Length: 40-60 minute class periods should be scheduled for grades 2-6. For younger students, at least 30 minutes should be scheduled.
Transition Time: Because visual art teaching requires a lot of material management, teachers need at least 5-10 minutes between class periods to reset supplies and to prepare for the next group.
Age Group Transitions: Wherever possible, like ages should be grouped together in an art teacher's schedule. This helps to streamline material management because different grades require different materials. Where ages are not grouped together, longer transition time will be needed.
Preparation Time: Teachers should have regularly scheduled prep periods (preferably 45 minutes a day) throughout the week to prepare materials, develop curriculum, exhibit student work, and to collaborate with other teachers to integrate content.
Budget: Students need earmarked funding for art supplies to adequately learn the media and to develop skills. The budget should be at least $1.00 per student per year.