The Collaboration of Teacher/Artist Teams: A Qualitative Analysis of Selected Interpersonal Components Influencing a Partnership-Model Artist Residency
Recent demands for academic accountability, as evidenced through standardized test scores, have left many school arts programs understaffed and vulnerable to budgetary constraints, particularly arts programs within poor urban and rural regions. For decades arts organizations have offered artist-in-residence programs as a way to supplement existing arts education programs. Currently, every state in the nation provides funding for outreach programs designed to bring “teaching artists” (TA) into schools. The growing demand for academic accountability, however, has resulted in increased pressure on artist residency programs to justify their use of instructional time and classroom resources. Consequently, artist residence programs are experiencing an evolutionary shift from residencies based on a demonstration model--in which the artist presents an art form to the class while the teacher is a passive observer--to a partnership model which requires teacher/artist teams to collaborate in creating and teaching co-equal cognitive arts integrated lessons. The success of partnership-model artist residencies depends on positive, productive collaboration between teachers and artists; however, the conditions and factors that promote teacher/artist instructional collaborations are not yet fully understood. The purpose of this study was to provide a deeper understanding of the interpersonal components that affect the collaborative instructional processes of teachers and artists participating in partnership-model artist residency programs, and to identify and describe the experiences and resources that promote positive, productive collaborations between teacher/artist teams. Five teaching artists and five fourth grade teachers participating in a 30-day partnership model artist residency agreed to take part in this qualitative study. Data were triangulated through semi-structured individual interviews, participant journals, and focus group interviews. Typological analysis identified patterns and relationships within and across data sets and revealed five overarching themes that influence the development of positive collaborative partnerships: pre-planning, collaborative, and instructional time; the divergent professional cultures of teachers and artists; the alignment of the arts with the curriculum; professional development training; and pedagogy and individual teaching styles. The results indicate that, despite the necessity of additional planning time and training, teachers and artists alike recognize the potential benefits of collaborative arts integration and support the current movement toward partnership model artist residencies.