In recent years the arts have been introduced into many pre-service and in-service professional development programs for general education teachers. At the same time, pressure for immediate test-score improvement and standardization of curriculum has limited the creativity and autonomy of teachers. This study, the qualitative part of a mixed-methods investigation of teachers across the U.S., involved six New York City elementary school teachers who found ways to use the arts in their classrooms on a regular basis despite the pressures they faced. The study investigated the personal characteristics and the factors that supported or constrained arts use in teaching. The results suggest that general creative and artistic attitudes rather than specific skills as a maker of art are key to arts use. A willingness to push boundaries and take risks defined this group of teachers. They recognized obstacles and challenges to arts use, but made choices that helped them maintain a sense of independence and creativity in teaching. The strongest motivation to use the arts use was their awareness of the diversity of learning styles and needs among their students. The teachers articulated a variety of ways in which arts-based professional development experiences encouraged them to bring their creativity into the classroom, expand their teaching repertoire, and find effective ways to incorporate the arts in the academic curriculum.
This article was published in International Journal of Education & the Arts Volume 7, Number 8, December of 2006. Read the article in its entirety from this website: www.ijea.org/v7n8 .