Training Our Newest Team of Teaching Artists

Training Our Newest Team of Teaching Artists
Nov 10, 2016

Remember the excitement you felt as a young child whenever you had an assembly at school? It felt like a special treat – being able to put your lessons aside, leave the classroom and take a journey to the auditorium or gymnasium for what seemed like an hour of pure fun. While you were there, captivated by a special presentation or honored guest, you were learning in a way that was truly joyful, active and fun.

So how can teachers capture that spirit in their everyday classroom?

At Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts (the Institute), answering that question begins with its Teaching Artists (TAs), who specialize in working with early childhood educators to teach them how to integrate the arts into their everyday curriculum.  Last week at Wolf Trap Foundation’s Center for Education, the Institute team, along with four Master Teaching Artists who have been working within the Institute for as many as 20 years, trained a group of eight artists from different disciplines (music, dance, theater and puppetry). The training was designed to instruct the artists in early childhood development, and teach them how to apply their art form to learning and coach educators to do the same.

Training Teaching Artists
Throughout the training, Teaching Artists learned to, among many things:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic elements of their art form in alignment with national arts standards
  • Integrate their art form with early childhood education concepts and curriculum standards
  • Understand the teacher/teaching artist partnership and the use of modeling and coaching strategies
  • Scaffold arts strategies to provide effective professional development for educators

The centerpiece of the week’s training was a front row seat to an actual week-long residency conducted by Master Teaching Artist Kofi Dennis at Colvin Run Elementary School in Vienna, VA. Prior to the first day at the school, Kofi provided the TAs in training a detailed overview of his planned lesson, including which arts and curriculum skills the lesson sought to include.

Each day Kofi involved both teacher and child more and more, empowering them to add their own unique takes on characters, settings and scenarios. This was the one facet of the Wolf Trap Institute residency method that stood out. Ownership of the lesson was constructively (and quite effortlessly) transitioned from the teaching artist to the classroom teacher and to the children themselves.

Using their week’s training with the Wolf Trap Institute as a guide and inspiration, our new teaching artists will now be building their own lessons, classroom teacher relationships and residencies throughout the area and across the country. We’re thrilled to welcome them into our family of teaching artists and wish them well!