FAQs for Teaching Artists

About Artist-in-Schools Residencies

How do I get Artist-in-Residence gigs?

The main routes are through school systems, arts council programs, and contacts in individual schools. Most school systems have a cultural arts coordinator that you can look up, contact, and meet with to find out about their programs and let them know about yours.

In North Carolina, the following arts councils have programs and funding you can apply for to support residencies, directories you can list your residencies in, and some have showcases you can perform in:

Arts and Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenberg: http://www.artsandscience.org/resources-for/educators-parents/education-provider-directory/

Durham Arts Council: https://durhamartscouncilcaps.com/

The North Carolina Arts Council: http://ncarts.org/Education/Arts-Education-Resources

The Arts Council of Fayetteville: http://www.theartscouncil.com/schools/

United Arts of Raleigh-Wake: http://www.unitedarts.org/programs/artists-in-schools/

What are components of a successful residency?

Here are a few:

  • Artistry
  • Content Development
  • Presentation Skills and Classroom Management
  • Student Engagement and Motivation
  • Artist/School Relations and Collaboration
  • Assessment
  • Child Development
  • Business Knowledge

What is arts integration?

According to the Kennedy Center:


What is the Common Core, and what are the National Core Arts Standards, and how do they relate to my work?

The Common Core State Standards for English and Mathematics are, “…the culmination of an extended, broad-based effort to fulfill the charge issued by the states to create the next generation of K-12 standards in order to help ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy [and Mathematics] no later than the end of high school.” (Introduction to NC Common Core State Standards, 2010) They were developed by state leaders in 48 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia, with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Common Core delineates what students should know, understand, explain, and be able to do at each grade level. The Common Core only contains English and Math standards. IMG_3793




There are also National Core Arts Standards; many states incorporate them into their state arts standards. You can find them here:


What about state standards?

State Standards explicate what students should know, understand, explain, and be able to do at each grade level in each state and in all other subjects—Science, Social Studies, Physical Education-Healthful Living, Guidance, Information-Technology-Media, World Languages, English as a Second Language, Career Technical Education, and four arts: Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts.

Teaching artists who want to work in public schools do well to familiarize themselves with the Common Core and state standards, so that they can connect their art with subject areas that students must learn about. It is extremely useful, for example, for a musician to know what grade-level students study the science of sound or fractions, or for a dancer to know in what grade students investigate anatomy or forces and motion. Then the teaching artist can forge natural connections to their art, and can tell teachers how their residency can support the teaching and learning that already must happen in their grade.

Here are links to state standards in the Southeast US.

http://alex.state.al.us/ccrs/ = Alabama

http://www.fldoe.org/academics/standards/florida-standards/educator-resources.stml = Florida

https://www.georgiastandards.org/Frameworks/Pages/BrowseFrameworks/Frameworks.aspx = Georgia

http://education.ky.gov/curriculum/standards/kyacadstand/Pages/default.aspx = Kentucky

http://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/instruction/curriculum/ = Maryland

http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/ESE/links/college-and-career-readiness-standards = Mississippi

http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/curriculum/ = North Carolina

http://ed.sc.gov/instruction/standards-learning/ = South Carolina

https://www.tn.gov/education/topic/academic-standards = Tennessee

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/ = Virginia

https://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/csos.html = West Virginia

How do I communicate with teachers in a way that fosters collaboration and support?

Be professional and respectful. Respond to their communications—emails, calls, texts—speedily. Set up a planning meeting with the teachers you will be working with. Provide them your written daily plan for your residency. In the plan, let them know how you want them to participate. In the meeting, ask questions about their students, their goals for the residency, and their classroom norms. Tell them clearly your goals and what you need from them to succeed. Greet them with a smile each day. Check in with them to see how the residency is going and if they have suggestions.

How do I accommodate different kinds of learners?

We learn in a variety of ways. There are many (more than 70) different ways that have been used to describe how we take in information, remember it, process it, retrieve it, apply it, and communicate it. The arts naturally incorporate various approaches to learning. Teaching artists bring to the classroom exciting, alternative paths to teaching. Here are some links for reading about some models of learning styles:

Are Learning Styles Invalid? (Hint: No!) by Richard M. Felder, North Carolina State University


Learning Styles by Nancy Chick, Assistant Director, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University


The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (2011) by Davis, Christodoulou, Seider, & Gardner


How do I deal with contracts, insurance, and felony background checks?


Have your own standard contract or memorandum of agreement (MOA) that outlines your responsibilities and needs and those of the school: Dates, times, number of classes, maximum number of students per class, locations, and the nature of the residency. State your fee, and any additional costs the school will pay, for example, supplies and travel expense. State the date(s) payment is due, whom to make the check out to, and mailing address. You can go online and find standard language about liability and cancellation fees, acts of god, rescheduling, etc. Your contract should protect you.




Yes, you need liability insurance. Some organizations require proof that you have it.

Background checks

Most arts councils, schools, and school systems will want to run a felony background check on you. Sometimes they pay for it; sometimes they charge the artist.


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