Becoming a Teacher of the Arts

During the fall of 2019, I had the privilege of filming several elementary education majors enrolled at the McKay School as they completed projects in the BYU Arts Bridge program. 

We visited the classrooms where they collaborated with elementary school teachers to integrate dance, music, drama, and visual arts with other content areas. After capturing classroom footage of their experience and the students, we interviewed them at the McKay School.

The students, many of them now practicing teachers with their own classrooms, were articulate and passionate as they spoke about their experiences. As I listened, several common themes arose including an increase in confidence as artists and creative teachers, an appreciation for the feeling of community cultivated through practice in the arts, and a love for the fun and engagement that comes with instruction through the arts. 

The first theme that emerged revealed the transformation the Arts Scholars experienced in their identity as a teacher. Many scholars described coming to the program with a love for the arts coupled with some insecurity in their artistic abilities. The Arts Bridge experience reframes their perceptions and helps them consider themselves more confidently as a “teacher of the arts.” 

Each scholar also discussed how they witnessed the arts build community in their classroom. Scholars described unique ways they recognized the arts as a catalyst for making conversation and social connections.

The last two videos we created offer a sneak peek into two activities our scholars wanted to share from their experience. The first video shows Audrie Flinders bringing a real trout to the classroom for a printmaking and science activity. In the second, Mandy Brown explains  how she uses dance to spice up the transitions in a math activity.

We are currently hiring Arts Bridge Scholars for fall 2021. Applications will be accepted until April 16th. Application instructions are available at education.byu.edu/arts/arts_bridge. If you’re a classroom teacher who has participated in our programs and have never had an Arts Bridge scholar in your classroom but would like one, please reach out at artspartnership@byu.edu and let us know. We will be coordinating placements this summer.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get updates on all of the BYU ARTS Partnership programs and professional development opportunities. 

Heather Francis is the Research and Development Coordinator for the BYU ARTS Partnership. A dance teaching artist and former math educator, Heather serves on the national board for the USA chapter of dance and the Child international (daCi) and is currently earning a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Brigham Young University.

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