All teachers have demanding jobs, but the performing arts teachers—those who instruct students in music, dance, or drama—are called to put the results of their teaching in a very public spotlight. At least once a year, parents, grandparents, and community members come to school, and the results of each teacher’s performing arts instruction are spotlighted.
During those extravaganzas, some students fidget, while others dazzle us with magnificent sights and sounds. Most of them do at least some of both. Of course, we applaud those hard-working students, but their performing arts teachers deserve a lot of credit too.
Throughout the year, those of us who teach English, science, social studies, math, and other more traditional curriculum send home a variety of reports, results, and information, but parents rarely see direct results of how we have taught their children. Performing arts teachers stand alongside their students in crowded gyms, theaters, and auditoriums and say, “This is what we have been doing. We hope you like it.”As you know, arts programming is threatened in many schools for a variety of reasons, but the arts are an important part of any child’s education. According to Lisa Phillips, author of The Artistic Edge, these are the top ten skills children learn from the arts: creativity, confidence, problem solving, perseverance, focus, non-verbal communication, receiving constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication, and accountability. Good teachers in any classroom reinforce these skills, but public audiences directly judge how well performing arts teachers instill these qualities.
In this time of winter sings and holiday concerts, let’s applaud students, their teachers, and those who support arts education in our schools.