How can arts education professional development be deepened to serve the unique needs of novice, specialist and generalist teachers?
Students are expected to learn the arts as core subjects. Yet, in the traditional school structure, art, music, dance, and theatre are often considered “specials.” This designation can segregate credentialed arts teachers from the general learning community. General classroom teachers are often in charge of teaching music, dance, theatre and visual arts, but may have little experience or training in the arts. How can a classroom teacher without a strong arts education background teach these subjects? How can arts specialists collaborate with generalists? This is where deep and meaningful professional development can begin to help.
To deliver professional development that speaks to teachers’ needs as well as those of their students, it is valuable to first consider the context for teaching in and through the arts. Through that lens, strategies for professional development can be devised to best serve your teachers. Literature on general education professional development is a rich resource for useful structural suggestions for deepening the quality of teacher learning. It should also be remembered that teachers can be empowered to take the reins to create their own learning opportunities.