THE RESEARCH, an introduction
ITAP-PD focuses specifically on the partnership between a teacher and an artist, aiming to facilitate a strong foundation of relationship and inspiration before working together in the classroom. On our journey to co-create this methodology we organized a research group to collect data about the impact of the program and the residencies, and to monitor the development and finetuning of the training program. The research team consists of representatives of each country.
The five day ITAP program was piloted in four countries: Ireland, Serbia, Greece and the Netherlands. This deepens the experience, because in the training program we reflected on our daily work context through the lens of contrast. Things that you consider to be a standard procedure are not necessarily the same in our partner countries. There are differences in our educational systems and the place of arts in society. In getting to know each other and exploring these differences we also find a lot of similarities in our challenges and ambitions. What brings our organizations and participants together is the belief that by joining forces as teachers and artists, within an educational framework, we can co-create a valuable learning experience for our students.
Here you can read a short introduction and download the research reports from Greece, Serbia, Ireland and the Netherlands. Read them all and explore how the program and residencies were experienced and analyzed within the different contexts.
When you read this research report you will find that many of the Dutch participants call themselves ‘hybrids’. They come from different backgrounds and most of them have been working both in education and the arts. So when collaborating in the residency most of them chose a role as their main perspective and focus, but it was a fluid experience. Being a hybrid, having experience both as an artist and teacher generates extra flexibility. This was an enrichment to the partnerships, but also a challenge, since relatively few participants had a classroom at hand to work with.
In spite of these challenges, many beautiful collaborative plans have been made. Some of them have been adapted to other settings, such as a museum. Some of the projects have taken place and some are waiting for an opportunity to find a school that has space and time. One artist even decided to switch careers and is now a full time teacher in secondary education.
Participants emphasized the importance of making time to connect and grow a relationship before diving into plans and projects. Being able to share the experience of the training program with participants from other countries was a good mirror in that aspect. The Dutch, it was said, have the habit of being content and goal driven. And though that is important, the value of taking a step back and focusing on the relationship before diving into the work at hand is something many take away from this project.
The experience of the ITAP-PD training program has been an inspiration on a personal and professional level for many of the participants, they shared. In their own work, they incorporated a playfulness inspired by the creative and interdisciplinary approach.
The implementation of the ITAP-PD program in Greece and the TAP framework it proposes in teachers’ and artists’ practice, resulted in a complex of intertwining positive outcomes for participants. The main benefits emerged in this research were related to the parameters of coequal collaboration, personal and professional development. The totality of the artists and teachers noted that fundamental principles such as good collaboration, good mood, openness, humour, distinct agreed roles in advance were of great importance to the success of the experimentation. The programme allowed both teachers and artists to reflect on themselves and their own practice, which led to critical consciousness of their role as educators and group facilitators.
Self-value (self-worth) was also elaborated on as a parameter for teachers who learn, take on new roles, perceive their position in the classroom positively, but also for artists who learn within the group to collaborate effectively. Both teachers and artists stressed the importance of sharing and working complementary with their partners, in order to better achieve higher levels of resilience. The TAP-PD program also seemed to have influenced the student populations. The students expressed their enthusiasm in the proposed, less “formal” process, their positive response and their creative participation. Both teachers and artists emphasised that the students were encouraged and achieved the most essential expression of their feelings and ideas, they became familiar with the element of being exposed to an audience and communicated with one another more comfortably. During all phases of research, it was also made clear that the research participants were unable, or consciously avoided to separate personal and professional development elements.
Participating teachers and artists, though, expressed their concerns about the consequences of not continuing TAP programs, due to lack of resources. This concern is apparent and evident in Greece, where TAP-PD programs are far from institutionalised.
This research aspires to contribute to the dialogue and the urge for an anticipated educational framework, where the arts are integrated in the educational process and play a vital role as a route for cooperation, equality and equity, as well as a factor of students’ creativity and social consciousness.
The partnership between teachers and artists is not yet a well-developed practice in Serbia. The participation of various teachers and two elementary schools in this project marks the first step towards its development. Currently, there is no visible progress in this field, and arts education is largely left to the personal interests and goodwill of the teachers. However, the three residencies we had in Serbia were a significant accomplishment on a larger scale. The schools that participated in the residency programs became more open to collaboration, and the principals and teachers spread the word about this process to other schools. CEDEUM’s participation in this project was a crucial step towards arts education in our local context, but achieving systematic change remains a distant goal that our organization will continue to work towards.
Participating in the project offers both teachers and artists the opportunity to develop their communication skills, as well as cooperation, creative thinking, effective communication, and interpersonal skills. One teacher noted that even exchanging energy with new people during the residency program would have an impact on her personal development because she is ready for something new. However, the artists talked more about personal development than the teachers did. This can be explained by the fact that teachers are involved in mandatory, continual professional training, while for artists, this is a totally new experience.
The research showed that both teachers and artists become more self-aware and critical of their practices. Furthermore, all teachers spoke about the benefits of residencies for children and their motivation to participate more in this kind of activity. Even though TAP was a new approach in Serbia, this project helped us to identify key challenges for future implementation of TAP programs in Serbian schools. Teachers and artists are enthusiastic about this cooperation. The training provided them with adequate skills and facilitated the process of building partnerships effectively. Finally, teachers and artists could be the best ambassadors for TAP in Serbia.
Ireland has a well-established nationally disseminated TAP practice which is continually undergoing development. However, our collaboration in I-TAP-PD has advanced practice considerably. The I-TAP-PD training programme was exceptionally well received by Irish participants and the residencies that followed very much benefitted from their participation in it.
Data from Irish residencies confirmed findings published internationally on TAP initiatives. In this case, sufficient allocation of time for residencies, whole school buy-in and political will and support were confirmed as the main enablers of TAP practices. Of our four I-TAP residencies, two were reportedly under-supported by school management. Other participants felt the 20-hour time allocation was insufficient.
However, Irish I-TAP-PD data also revealed evidence of heretofore undocumented outcomes. Much international TAP research focuses primarily on teacher professional development. Kind et al. (2007) and Kenny & Morrissey (2016) reference artists’ learning but neither document it nor comment on its quality, depth or utility. As I-TAP-PD training is founded in equality and focuses on relationship building alongside the personal and practical development of both professionals, our data yield was replete with evidence of both artists and teachers learning. This learning falls broadly into three categories: personal development, professional development and effective collaboration. Interestingly, the greatest areas of learning for teachers were in the collaborative sphere while artists reported significant personal development. Both reported high levels of professional development. The predominant finding was that artists learned at least as much as teachers from this I-TAP-PD experience though further research is needed to determine whether this is a specific or a general trend in TAP residencies that are prefaced by considered and rigorous pre-residency training.
In keeping with the findings from other jurisdictions, the roles of ‘artist’ and ‘teacher’ became more fluid as the residency progressed with each partner growing increasingly confident in undertaking aspects of the role of the other. Participants also reported difficulties categorising their learning in terms of ‘personal’ or ‘professional’ as learning in one area greatly impacted learning in the other. Finally, and importantly, the students involved in the residencies enjoyed them thoroughly. Those interviewed were enthusiastic in expressing both their appreciation of the experience and recounting the extent of their learning.