Professional Development through Artful Teaching

Professional Development doesn’t always require expensive out-of-town speakers or long-distance travel to conferences. Since 2016, the Juneau School District has been strengthening its teaching team from within through the Artful Teaching program. This fall, the district began applying the same model to its efforts to infuse place-based learning into the classroom.
The project, which is a partnership between JSD, UAS and the JAHC, first launched in January 2016. Our original cohort had 25 teachers and has now grown to over 100. Centered around arts integration and culturally responsive pedagogies, the Artful Teaching structure offers learning experiences with local teaching artists and culture bearers as well as national arts integration leaders (primarily from the Kennedy Center and Project Zero). Groups of job-alike teachers then apply their learning into classroom practice and meet to look closely at the resulting student work and reflect on student learning. We also offer embedded professional development in the classroom through Visual Arts and Drama integrated kits, demonstration teaching, and Artful Teaching Residencies, where teachers collaborate with local teaching artists to co-design and co-teach arts integrated learning experiences.

The team is also using a co-planning and teaching residency model. In this model, professional development and planning is done together. Teachers and trainers share ideas and then apply them in their lesson and curriculum development. Teachers then take these lessons to the classroom to pilot and teach. After more fine tuning, the lessons will be made available to other teachers in the district to use.  Next year the district will use the teacher cohort model, based off the ArtLabs from Artful Teaching, to expand their integration work. Cohorts of teachers will meet together to share and develop lessons and units utilizing cross-content integration. These cohorts will also connect with community partners and use local resources to make the learning place-based and culturally relevant.

-Elizabeth Kent and Amy Rautiainen,
Artful Teaching