Collaborate Educate was a CPD training and knowledge exchange programme that brought together teachers and creative practitioners in 2017 to develop their practices and explore creative approaches to the curriculum in Primary schools.
Working with musician and educator Pauline Black, 5 teachers and 6 creative practitioners attended twilight sessions that explored definitions of creativity. The group also undertook training to become Discover & Explore Arts Award qualified. In the final sessions, the teachers and artists worked together in pairs to plan creative interventions which were then ‘tested’ live in the classroom throughout April and May 2017 and brought back to a final sharing and reflection.
The classroom sessions developed were varied and included: creating a stage set for an inter disciplinary drama based project at Walker Road; a Day of Art at Ashley Road; yarn-bombing at Hazlehead Park; and making an Amazonian Rainforest at Glashieburn Primary. These vibrant collaborations between artists and teachers reached approximately 300 children.
In the course of the project both artists and teachers developed their practice, benefiting from their respective skills. Artists reflecting on their experience highlighted the challenge of working with so many participants, within strict confines of time and in a structured and time-bound educational environment. Collaborate Educate increased the knowledge artists need to work with schools and an understanding of the curriculum and time pressures that teachers face.
The presence of artists in the schools encouraged the teachers to reflect on how thinking creatively challenged both them and their students. As a consequence of working with the artists, the teachers realised that they were often output driven and focused on the end product, rather than fostering creative thinking as a skill in itself. Standing back from outcomes and allowing pupils to explore and have the freedom of open ended, yet focused creative classes gave the teachers a new creative impetus to their teaching approaches.
“I gained a lot from the opportunity to develop ideas and plan with a teacher. Working together, sharing the different approaches we would usually take and developing this into a collaborative process was really interesting and rewarding.” – Artist
“Bouncing ideas off each other was great. Seeing how others might approach the same thing gave me lots of ideas…a wonderful boost for the creative juices!” – Teacher
“For me, this was trusting in a different way of working. I was like one of the kids. Pupils went with what they wanted to do, not what I expected to happen. It was just ace, allowing the kids the freedom not to produce 25 of the same pictures; this was a huge learning curve for me.” – Teacher
“Realising that time is a huge restraint to teachers with regards to planning and to the practical sessions they teach will be beneficial to the way in which I approach future planning sessions within educational settings.” – Artist
“Within the programme I feel it would be beneficial to include more planning and resourcing time for paired artists and teachers as I do the time required was underestimated.” – Teacher
“When planning, developing, implementing and reflecting with my artists I also become more aware of the curricular links between art and well-being (particularly growth mind-set) and how art can be used to promote this. Growth mind-set is something I was already interested in and I look forward to exploring this link through art further.” – Teacher