A longtime partnership between the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education has been providing future teachers with the strategies to incorporate art into all their subjects in the classroom.
“The Arts: Avenues to Learning” program is a one-day workshop connecting preservice, multiple-subject and special education teachers – those students working toward receiving teaching credentials – with professional teaching artists from Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Through the guidance of Segerstrom’s teaching artists, the future teachers engage in interactive, hands-on art sessions in which they get to embrace their creativity through puppetry, dance and theater arts.
About 60 preservice teachers, most on the path to becoming teachers for grades K-8 students, participated in a workshop held March 7 at the Fullerton Marriott.
Preservice teachers working toward a special education credential also participated for the first time.
Teaching artists from Segerstrom demonstrated to the future teachers the ways art transcends all subjects as groups of students rotated from workshop to workshop throughout the day, practicing in each of the four genres.
The goal is not merely for the preservice teachers to practice art, but to learn strategies for implementing art instruction into every subject, said Kristine Quinn, lecturer from CSUF Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, within the College of Education.
“One of our largest objectives is to not only teach best practices but to really help to build those positive dispositions towards the arts,” Quinn said. “To help them to build agency, meaning we want our teacher candidates to get out there and fight for the arts.”
The program started 12 years ago when Talena Mara, vice president of education at Segerstrom, was looking for ways to strengthen Segerstrom’s Art Teachers program by having teaching artists work with college students, who were in the process of earning teaching credentials.
“All of our teaching artists are professional artists,” said Alexis Johnson, manager of education partnerships at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Johnson oversees the Art Teach program. “They really need to have a passion for the arts, expertise in working with youth and flexibility to work with classroom teachers. This is process-based. This is exploring arts forms.”
When Mara reached out to Quinn, the professor discovered they both shared the same passion for the implementation of art in all subjects.
There is sometimes a disconnect between what preservice teachers are taught and what they actually implement in the classroom, Quinn said, mostly because mentor teachers are often too busy to incorporate the arts into their teaching.
“We’ve got to help bridge this disconnect,” Quinn said. “We have this great opportunity to partner with the Arts Teach program, which is comprised of teaching artists who are professional artists who also go into the schools and are also teachers.”
The arts methods class is worth one credit and is offered in the second of the three-semester credential program.
By the end of the workshop, students should walk away with plenty of strategies and inclusive practices for integrating art into all subjects, said Rohanna Ylagan-Nicanor, lecturer in the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education.
“We are hoping that they continue having that positive disposition for integrating arts into their classroom,” Ylagan-Nicanor said. “Not to walk away with an experience of just today, but really use what they learn today and implement into their classrooms. We are also hoping that they learn inclusive practices, how to support all students of all backgrounds.”
Student Kristina Macias participated in the Arts: Avenues to Learning workshop in a previous semester and called the experience empowering.
“It’s going to influence your teaching but it’s also possibly going to influence your humanistic way of being and outlook on life,” Macias said. “This is very important for us to consider because if we feel so powerful and connected, imagine how important and how powerful this is going to be if you include it into your classroom.”
Former workshop participant Erica Paik also discovered the importance of art as a teaching tool and in her personal life.
“It was such a fun and amazing experience because we really got to immerse in dance, music, movement, theater and even puppet art,” Paik said. “So, this hands-on experience that we were able to do at Segerstrom was definitely something that I’m going to hold with me when I become a teacher.”