There is not one way to approach arts in education, our approach has power critical, brave space, self care, anti-rasist, caring for conflict inclusive and sustainability at the heart of it.  We believe that the role of the visiting artist in education is of huge value and comes with its challenges. 

Are you looking for a guide to help you set your intentions, boundaries and goals before you enter schools or other learning contexts? Whether you are a first time artist in education or have been doing it for years, this guide is meant to help you advocate and plan so that your impact at the school is what you intend it to be. 

We created this guide based on our collective experience and expertise as teachers working in schools and artists visiting them.  This guide is to help support the artist going into school. It was written mainly in the context of working within Berlin’s schools and reflects these experiences. If you wish to comment or add something to this guide, please write to us at: info@mitkollektiv.de

Practicalities

Money

  • How much pay per hour?  First time 25 € Experienced 25 -45 €
  • Rate for 2 hours in a school, 60 – 95 / 100 € per person
  • Project week rate 9000 – 1500 €
    (LINK to work rights / pay info) 

Funding

  • Is the school paying?
  • Is there external funding?
  • Did you apply with the participants? – Great, no conflict.
  • If not: How will you communicate about this for transparency, to avoid a conflict of interest?
  • What does the funder require? (For example: Specific themes, time frames, paying for hours, documentation, numbers of participants) 

Contracts and legalities

  • Do you have your contract? Yes: Start work. No? Don’t do it
  • Do you have a police background check? (link)
  • Can you legally work alone with the participants?

Who are your working partners?

  • Are you co-leading/facilitating or are you alone?
  • Are you working alone, but you would rather have another artist in the room?

Your options could be:

  • If you are comfortable with the teacher at the school, ask them to be in the room, 
    and/or support the workshop in ways that are comfortable for you both. 
  • Go back to the funder/school and ask for a budget for two artists.
  • Shorten the workshop and split the fee between yourself and the person you would like to work with.
  • Offer the workshop alone, make a plan that has very limited risk and includes only activities which you are confident to lead and have led before. Keep it simple and talk through your plan with a mentor.
  • Are you implementing someone else’s curriculum or working for another organisation? If yes: How much space do you have to change the plan according to what you see and believe should happen?

The school

School rules

  • To avoid getting your participating students in trouble, make sure you know:
  • The school’s rules  
    Which rules can you change / are negotiable and which are fixed?

Space

  • What space will you have available?
  • Even if you have reserved a space, double-check that your contact person at the school has informed the rest of the relevant people there.
  • If it’s a shared school space, make sure it is available at the time you wish to use it.
  • To help prevent double bookings, check with the class teacher, they will have an idea about what space is least likely to be interrupted or double booked. Often that room is their own classroom.
  • If it’s a shared space, be prepared to move at the last minute. In this case, have your supplies mobile and ready to go.
  • Is there an outside space where you could move your workshop if needed? 
    Where can you not go, what locations are off-limits inside and outside the school?

Breaks

  • When are the regular breaks at the school?
  • Who is responsible for the participants during the breaks?
  • To ensure that you also get a break: Consider sticking to the school breaks, as the students are then required by law to be supervised by the school.
  • If you are imposing a new break time within the school schedule, agree who is responsible for the participants during that time.

Remember, you are entering a well-established system. Make conscious choices about which changes you want to spend your energy on. Following the school’s break system might not be ideal for your plan; asking everyone involved to do the extra work to follow a different schedule might not be where you want the focus.

Food, lunch /snacks

Hungry people cannot participate, so before making your plan, please be aware: 

  • When are the lunch times?
  • What is the lunch and snack procedure?
  • Do participants bring their food with them?
  • Should you bring food for those who don’t have it / forget? 

Accessibility and Brave Spaces

  • Are there any needs that must be addressed before meeting the participants so that the information is accessible?
  • State clearly to the teacher what information you need, or are still missing, to be able to limit obstacles.
  • Think about: Getting to the workshop location, what happens when you enter the room where you’re holding the workshop, special needs and languages of the participants as well as their age and concentration span.
  • Provide differentiated options and space for caring for conflict and help (link to resources and methods).
    Think about your work contacts who could complement you in offering a brave space (link to audio explanation).
  • How do you create agreements on the first day? 

In creating agreements on the first day, establish common understanding on things such as: How you will work together. What does everyone need to feel like they can participate? What happens when someone has an issue or a problem? 

  • What do you want your role to be? Facilitator, teacher, leader, co-researcher?
  • What does your identity do when you enter this group?
  • What happens when you walk into the room?
  • Do the participants know each other?
  • What languages does everyone speak?
  • See questions on accessibility.
  • What are you doing to differentiate? 

Working with the Participants

  • How many?

For truly process-oriented workshops, 12 participants is a great number to have, depending on their age and the methods or medium you are working with. For groups bigger than 12, consider whether you can work process-oriented. Remember to be transparent about your approach with the students and teacher.

  • How old are they?
  • Did they select this workshop or are they forced to by the school?
  • Be clear about who creates groups and how.
  • Did participants get their first choice?
  • What languages do they speak?
  • What are their accessibility needs?
  • Think about how you ask them these questions.
  • What information do the participants need before starting?

Working with the teacher

  • How much does the teacher want to be involved/how much can they be involved?
  • If you are legally allowed to be alone with the class, does the teacher want a break?
  • Do they want you in their school?
  • Do you want them in the room?
  • If yes, what do they need to know? What is their role?
  • Talk about their opportunity to observe their students from the outside, to gain a new perspective.
  • Make sure it is clear who is responsible for what (i.e, classroom management, behaviour, materials, breaks, workshop content.)

For example, you could say, “If I need help with student behaviour I will ask directly”, or conversely, “Please jump in and support me if you see the students not following my instructions.”

  • Talk about norms of behaviour and what you are both expecting. Especially if you want the participants to be able to express themselves in a different way from “normal school”.
  • What is the teacher’s relationship to the students? 
    – This dynamic is impossible to break if the teacher is present. Either work with it, use it, involve it or (if legal) ask them to not be in the room. 
    – The middle way is offering them the role of a silent observer. If they agree to that, a discussion at the end of the day to hear what they saw can be incredibly useful (depending on the teacher).
  • Remember to have time to negotiate this and make a plan that works for you both.

In planning the workshop, think about:

Process and outcome

  • What knowledge/experience do the participants already have?
  • What kind of process best fits your participants, the methods, topics and art forms you want to work with? (Link to examples)
  • How open are you about the outcome?
  • Are you doing shared research?
  • Are you hoping that the art you make with participants at the school is going to be shown in other contexts? – Do you have the consent of the participants for that? If so, how do they want to be credited?
  • Make sure to have time for feedback at the end or and/or after the project. 

Content

  • What do you want the experience to be?
  • What are your goals and questions to state at the start of the workshop?
  • What art forms and methods make sense to use?
  • Who could you invite to offer methods/techniques you’re not fluent in?
  • Is there something that the school, participants, you, or the funder want or need to address?
  • In planning, remember to set the first day to gather all the information that you have not already gathered and to get to know each other. (Link to examples)
  • Always plan time to set up and tidy up together. 

Documentation

  • Is there documentation needed (think funding)?
  • If so, do you have the necessary consent forms for the participants?
  • Who does the documentation and how is it done?
  • Consider agreeing on this with the participants on the first day and talking about consent with photography etc… as you go.