Teaching with Contemporary Art

In the Middle: Art21 Educators

K-1st grade texture and color study submitted by June Edmonds

About six months ago, Art21 ventured into the land of summer teacher institutes. We invited 15 teachers from across the country to come to New York City and spend a week with us learning about ways to bring contemporary art and artists into the classroom using Art21 resources. It was a ton of work and an equal amount of fun. Since then, these teachers have had the opportunity to plan curriculum, try new teaching strategies, develop units and lessons that are driven by big ideas, and even work with some Art21 artists in the process.

We have now hit the mid-point of our first year working with these 15 teachers, and over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to reach out to many of them and discuss their experiences so far- from the summer institute this past July to their current plans for this spring. It’s been extremely interesting to find out that many teachers now find themselves working with IDEAS as opposed to materials-based strategies or teaching particular styles. It’s has been tremendously gratifying to hear that experiences with artists and art works- firsthand- became a springboard for learning about other artists, art, and approaches to creating. The group has also shared hundreds of photos (literally) and dozens of classroom videos through our interactive Ning website devoted exclusively to this cohort of teachers.

As we move into the second half of our year together we look forward to visiting teachers in their classrooms, learning more about the successes and challenges they face, and even making time to talk with students about how learning with contemporary art has made a difference for them.

Year 2 of the Art21 Educators summer institute will run from July 7-14, 2010 and is now accepting applications from pairs of teachers. Click here for more information and to download an application!