Artists Who Teach

by Danielle N. Brown / May 2016
Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator

Photography by Mary Claire Crow

What does it mean to be a teaching artist?

In Tennessee, we are very fortunate to have many practicing teaching artists. They are professional artists and have created relevant academic lessons to teach in schools. Students not only learn about the artist’s work, but also apply the art form to their current arts and non-arts curriculum.

Create 2013 for Tennessee Arts Commission

Create 2013 for Tennessee Arts Commission; Teachers and artists collaborate to create an arts-integrated lesson Photography by Mary Claire Crow

Teaching artists are a wonderful asset in adding arts integration in schools across the state. Any school can invite a teaching artist in to enrich their curriculum through the arts. With the Student Ticket Subsidy Program offered by the Tennessee Arts Commission, schools can choose teaching artists who bring classroom experiences to students in a variety of subjects for different grade levels.

The Commission hosts a teaching artist roster on the arts education website that features artists who are experienced in providing these classroom experiences. Each teaching artist on the roster has been vetted to teach their lessons to ensure that students will receive the instruction they require.

Additionally, the Commission hosts a lesson plan database on the same website. Here, any teacher can search for lesson plans that complement the work they are doing in the classroom. The lesson plans are ideal for presenting material in a new light through the arts. Lesson plans are free to download and use within a teacher’s curriculum.

Create 2013 for Tennessee Arts Commission

Create 2013 for Tennessee Arts Commission; Roger Day performs original educational songs for school children Photography by Mary Claire Crow

Teaching artists learn their craft through experience and study. A resource which many teaching artists have found invaluable is the Teaching Artist Handbook, vol. 1: Tools, Techniques and Ideas to Help Any Artist Teach (University of Chicago Press). Nick Jaffe and Becca Barniskis, co-authors of the book, will lead a day-long workshop for Tennessee teaching artists on Wednesday, June 8, from 8 to 4:30 p.m. in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, during the Tennessee Arts Commission statewide arts conference, Collective Impact.

This workshop is designed to provide new and veteran artists with strategies to improve their work as educators, but will do so in a way that recognizes the unique and valuable role professional artists play in arts education. Drawing on the expertise and experience of those in attendance, the workshop will explore such questions as: What will I teach? How will I teach? Is my teaching working?

The registration fee for the one-day teaching artist workshop is $50, which includes breakfast and lunch. Participants may choose to attend the entire Collective Impact Conference for a registration fee of $149, which also includes participation in the teaching artist workshop.

Visit for more information and to register.

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