Jamie Hipp | October 2019

Mentoring Student Teachers in Arts Integration

Who Are You?

Have you had many student teachers? Are you working with your first? Either way, you were likely chosen for this role because you are a highly effective teacher yourself. You rock! As a supervising or mentor teacher, you will help shape your student teachers’ instructional practices. This includes their tendency and willingness to use arts integration.

What is Arts Integration?

Take a look at three widely accepted definitions of arts integration:

An approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.

The Kennedy Center (Silverstein & Layne, 2010, p.1)

An instructional strategy that brings the arts into the core of the school day and connects the arts across the curriculum.

(Rabkin & Redmond, 2006, p. 61)

An instructional approach used by teachers to work collaboratively to teach the content and processes of two or more subject areas, including one or more arts areas, and to increase the ability of students to identify, create, and apply authentic learning connections.

(Richard & Treichel, 2013, p. 224)

Do you see what I see? All three citation examples define arts integration as an approach or strategy. Student teachers need opportunities to practice approaches and strategies. Therefore, your student teachers should plan and try out arts-integrated lessons.


Why Should You Encourage Arts Integrated Teaching?

An arts-integrated approach leads to many academic and soft skill benefits for students. Student teachers can practice the approach in your classroom under your supervision. When you provide feedback, it will help your student teachers to begin the process of building their own arts-integrated lesson collection.

Furthermore, most student teachers lack access to arts integration in their preparation programs. Only 30 states have an arts class requirement for preservice teachers. Most of those classes focus on visual art and music education, not targeted integration.

How Can You Assist?

Everyone has an artistic comfort zone. Student teachers may scrapbook or sing in a church choir. They may act in local community theatre productions. They might take dance classes at their gym. So discuss artistic comfort zones with your student teacher early on to get an idea of their personal limits. Don’t forget to share your own comfort zones with them, and any area where you might not feel as comfortable with your implementation

Then, use your scope and sequence to discuss possible arts connections for upcoming units or lessons. As you move into the planning, share these arts-integrated planning sites with them. This list is suitable for preservice and also in-service teachers!


When and Where Should They Try It?

Encourage student teachers to start small on their arts integration journey. A brain break or transition is a great way to start! They will be excited to build on their successes with longer lessons.

Certainly, most brain breaks and transitions can be used in many school spaces outside the classroom. I enjoy watching student teachers to integrate dance and movement into the transition time where students line up at outdoor recess.

The mentor teachers I had many moons ago encouraged me to integrate the arts alongside dozens of other strategies that I still use today. As a result, arts integration is core component of my teacher toolbox. Arts integration strategies will also benefit your student teacher during their formative years. After all, with your support, your student teacher will see – first-hand – how the arts best meet the needs of all learners.

About the Author

Jamie Hipp, Ph.D. is the founder of Arts Are Hipp – Creative Professional Development (artsarehipp.com). She is an adjunct professor of arts integration at Louisiana State University and a former elementary theatre teacher and professional actress. Follow her on Twitter @artsarehipp