There is no one way to approach arts in schools. Our approach is power critical and anti-racist and includes caring for conflict, brave spaces, self care, 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 own challenges.
Are you looking for a guide to help you set your intentions, boundaries and goals before you work with an external artist? Whether this is your first time planning an external project or you have been doing it for years, this guide is meant to help you plan so that the external project in your school is what you intend it to be. The hope is that the external workshop can be well integrated in your lessons before and after and will have an overall positive impact on learning, perspectives and your school.
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 teacher in work with external artists. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Who is paying the visiting artist? If it is the school, then what needs to happen for the artist to get paid? By what deadline?
Please ensure these bureaucracies are done in time as the artist’s payments can be very delayed if not.
- What formalities need to happen? Contracts, police checks, consent forms?
- What are the non-negotiable school rules that the visiting artist needs to know?
- Can the artist(s) be left alone with your students; is that specified in the contract?
- Did everyone at the school get all the information needed about the project: When, what, where, and who is involved?
- What space can the school offer, securely, without time conflicts?
- Make sure it is clear when consent forms need to be signed and by whom. Does this project need to conform to an existing system for consent forms at the school? (See example consent form here)
- Ensure that when you are communicating with the artist about student needs, you are not making judgements or revealing private information and are using neutral language.
Working with the visiting artist
- What is their background and experience?
- Are they experienced in working with the age group and demographic of your class?
- If the artist has no previous experience working in schools, make sure that they get all the necessary information and that you meet well in advance.
- How much do you want to work with the visiting artist? Be clear about roles and responsibilities.
- If you feel that you can be honest and vulnerable, explain what you hope for this time for yourself and what you are worried about.
- Are you in the room during the project or not? [Discuss with the artist]
- What information do you / your class need from the artist?
- Discuss whether there can be any school time dedicated to preparing the participants before the workshop.
- Can you integrate relevant material into your teaching before and after the workshop?
- Does the artist introduce themselves and the workshop to the participants before it happens?
- Have a conversation about behaviour expectations with the visiting artist and come up with a plan together of how to address this with your class. Depending on the experience and needs of the visiting artist, this could be:
a) Having a conversation together with your class and the artist about expectations.
b) Having a conversation with your class without the artist.
c) The visiting artist setting expectations together with your class on day one of the workshop / at the beginning.
d) If there is time, all of the above would also be possible
- Is it important that the students select this workshop, or is it compulsory?
- Have a conversation with the visiting artist and either decide together how the students select the workshop, or be transparent about the selection process.
- What information do the students need before starting?
For example: They need to bring something specific, the schedule will be different, they will be outdoors and need special clothes, they need to prepare something in advance, etc.
- Does the workshop add to the students’ workload at school and if yes, how much?
What are topics or issues in your class that would be interesting or helpful to address through this project?
Does the visiting artist have the experience and knowledge base to address these in some way?
Please communicate this with the artist so that they will have the possibility to plan something that better meets the needs of your students / school.
Did you observe new methods and teaching strategies that the artist used with your class? Could you find ways to incorporate them into your own pedagogy?
Ask the students what they learned and consider how you can integrate that into your lessons.
If not all of the students in your class participated in the workshop, could the students who did share their experience with the rest of the class?
If you believe the experience with the artist had a positive effect on your students, is there a way for you and the artist to continue the collaboration? Could this be once a year, once per term, or on a regular weekly / monthly basis?
In collaboration with the visiting artist, offer time for the students to give feedback and reflect. This could be as a group activity or discussion and / or in written form.
If you have time after the workshop, have a conversation with the visiting artist to share insights and feedback.