During the National Roundtable for Teacher Education in the Arts conference held in Spring 2011 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, some 50 education professors, artists, arts administrators, teacher candidates, teachers and government officials from across Canada met to consider the best ways to provide effective instruction to teachers in the fine and performing arts. A unique feature of the event was that many participants insisted that ideas be expressed through artistic creation. Some did art-making, others created dance and music pieces and many performed improvised dramatic sketches. Interwoven into the dialogue, a hula hoop practice led by a PHd specialist in hula hoops and mixed with tap dancing lessons was also part of the overall experience.
An added challenge to all the participants at the conclusion of the discussion was for them to contribute something to the Culture Days weekend in their part of the country relating to some discovery or idea they leaned at the Roundtable. The Let's Make Music Conference in Brantford ON, organized by NRTEA participant and Assistant Professor at Nipissing University Christina Grant, is one of these responses. During this Culture Days activity, a variety of free practical music education workshops will be offered to anyone with a love of music. Another response to the NRTEA's challenge comes from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), which will showcase arts performances by elementary and secondary students with filmed highlights of various schools’ musical, dance and drama shows.
The following text is an excerpt from the NRTEA's summary report. For the full report, click here.
NATIONAL ROUNDTABLE FOR TEACHER EDUCATION IN THE ARTS
MAY 25, 26, 2011
SUMMARY OF PARTICIPANT COMMENTS IN SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS
The National Roundtable on Teacher Education in the Arts, held on May 25 and 26 ,2011, at the National Arts Centre, in Ottawa, heralded the first time that an invited group of 53 experts consisting of education professors, teachers, artists, education students (both pre-service and graduate), arts administrators, government officials, and school board consultants and superintendents, met to discuss critical issues in the process of teacher education. The connecting question to arts advocacy in general was: - In order to have better quality arts programs in our schools, we need better educated teachers.
A unique feature of this event was the element of preparation by all participants that included the offering of a creatively decorated piece of material that might symbolize prior to the event, attitudes on teacher education in the arts. Each submitted piece at the beginning and during the progress of the Roundtable, was added to a kind of garden of ideas that stimulated metaphoric images throughout the experience. The interweaving of vocal dialogue, mixed with arts experiences continued throughout. In the 2 day dialogue, small group discussions of 8 participants each, met to consider 4 major themes of teacher education: a) pre-service or initial teacher education b) models of in-service education c) the role of partnerships d) the relationship of instructor and candidate. At each opportunity for reporting findings to the whole, narrative summary, dance response, improvisational sketch creation, soundscape atmospheres and visual renderings, were all employed by the reporting groups. The resulting findings and crystallization of ideas for all participants, included both logical idea suggestions and metaphoric images that continue to resonate in a kind of dynamic symmetry that has promoted alternative meanings for everyone.
As a concluding challenge for each participant, we asked all to conceive of an innovative theory, practice or event that resulted in some way from the experiences of this Roundtable, that could be offered to a public forum as part of the national Culture Days celebrations, scheduled for September 30 – Oct. 2, 2011.
Topics covered during the Roundtable include:
1.THE PLACE OF THE ARTS IN AN OVERALL PROGRAM OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION
Participants in this discussion group were asked to comment on delivery models,overall programs, the relative time for the arts in relation to the total program, the relationship to practica, degrees of integration, training for generalist candidates and pre-requisite issues for specialized candidates.
2. MODELS OF IN-SERVICE ARTS EDUCATION
Participants were asked to make observations about the situation of in-service training from their perspective, comment on insights that might have been sparked by their observations and recommend solutions or avenues for exploration on possible policies, procedures or models that could better in-service training in the arts.
3. THE ROLES AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF COMMUNITY, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL ARTS PARTNERS
Given the complexity and challenges of providing pre-service and in-service training in the arts for teachers and educators, it is important to explore and understand the diverse communities of partners and their possible contributions to the betterment, development and delivery of a variety of training programs. Many models exist and many more are being explored.
4. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INSTRUCTOR AND CANDIDATE
This question was not related to any particular sector of teacher education in the arts but pertained to all. Issues examined included instructor modeling; information vs experience; differences between excellence in teaching teachers compared to teaching in schools; unique characteristics of excellent teaching in arts teacher education; relationship of artistic excellence and pedagogical competence.
Full report here.
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