What does a Teaching Artist do?

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  • Written By: Meghan Perry
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2018
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A teaching artist is someone who works as an artist but who also works in an educational setting as a teacher or mentor. Unlike art teachers, teaching artists are usually specialists in a particular art form, such as visual arts, poetry, dance, or theater. There are many different educational settings in which a teaching artist can work that will allow him the flexibility to continue to be a professional artist.

One of the most common educational settings for a teaching artist to work in is a school, and there are different ways of doing this. One is as an artist-in-residence, in which an artist is in a school for a short time, possibly a week or two, and works with the teachers in the school to plan collaborative lessons and mentor the students. A teaching artist can also be in a school for a longer period of time and teach his own art-centered classes. In addition to schools, teaching artists may work in after-school settings, offer workshops, or work at summer camps, to name a few options.


One of the key components of a teaching artist is that he works as a professional artist when not in an educational setting. For example, an artist whose specialty is dance may work in musical theater or as a choreographer when not teaching. Some schools may require that teaching artists have some kind of education certification before they can be hired. This is so they have some training in how to develop curriculum and plan class activities, as well as better understand the needs of the students they teach.

A teaching artist often works independently, although there are some organizations and associations that teaching artists can join that contract out to schools and other programs. This may make finding educational work easier for teaching artists. A teaching artist is an independent contractor in that he usually can choose what jobs he will accept or decline and how busy he would like to be.

There are three main requirements of a teaching artist. The first is that he should be very knowledgeable about the kind of art being taught, whether it be dance, theater, or some other form. The second is that he should have some background in education or experience teaching. The third is that he should be an enthusiastic team player, meaning he must be willing to work with others, including teachers, students, and parents.



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