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Educating Arts Educators: 6 Ideas for Professional Development

Nic Lyons

June 27, 2023

All educators benefit from professional development. Teachers in the arts are no exception. In fact, art teacher professional development serves a double purpose. It helps professionals hone their teaching abilities while also improving their artistic skills. 

Making art and teaching it are two separate but related skills. The best artist-educators find time for their own creative pursuits and also take opportunities for teacher professional development. 

Fortunately, there are organizations that offer specialized workshops and classes for art teachers and other arts educators. We’ve rounded up some resources and suggestions for where to find these opportunities so art teachers can continue to work on their craft while supporting their students. 

6 Places to Find Art Teacher Professional Development Opportunities

If you know where to look, there are an overwhelming number of options for art teacher professional development. Some offer continuing education (CE) credits. Others offer valuable insight and tools without a formal credit system. As you explore these options, be sure to ask about CE credits and other ways a particular training can benefit your career. 

1. Local Art Schools and Colleges 

Local art schools and colleges often provide classes for art teachers because they understand the unique position of art educators. Check your nearby educational institutions.

For example, the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, has art educator programs that can certify teachers to instruct Advanced Placement (AP) art, design, and art history. Their summer Educator Forum helps educators “revitalize their creative energy while learning new skills through a variety of educational and recreational activities,” according to the program description. 

Similarly, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design has a free professional development program available to Boston area artists. It offers webinars, courses, events, and workshops in partnership with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. Its summer classes for educators include ceramics, animation, fashion, painting, photography, and more. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for locally, check for online learning opportunities from schools further afield. 

2. Art Museums and Galleries

Art museums and galleries are some of the best places to find classes and workshops for art teachers. If you work within a program that has several art teachers, you could even reach out to a local museum or gallery and ask if they’d be willing to do a class just for your faculty—and form a great community connection while doing so! 

MoMA in Manhattan offers free professional development courses to educators who are curious about modern and contemporary art. Their resources include online classes, pre-recorded professional development sessions, and live workshops. 

Likewise, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, hosts professional development for visual art teachers and administrators. Many of their virtual teacher workshops can be freely accessed on their website. 

Lincoln Center has an entire Institute for the Arts in Education. It offers summer professional development workshops for educators nationwide and even has a formal partner program with schools. 

3. Art Education Associations and Organizations

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) hosts conferences, workshops, and seminars designed specifically for art teachers. Their online professional learning site, called Virtual Art Educators, is filled with content that’s perfect for art teacher professional development. There you can find webinars like: 

For more options, check this comprehensive list of national and state art education associations in the U.S. These are all communities where professionals dedicated to advancing art education can connect, share, and learn. 

4. Community Theaters

Local acting schools, conservatories, and theaters are a great resource for classes on acting, dance, and music. These programs often host reputable artists who visit to teach classes or serve as an artist in residence. 

For example, The American Repertory Theater invites art teachers to connect with them to request classroom visits, and their “Teacher Tuesdays” evenings are designed for educators to network and collaborate. They even offer to “work with schools to facilitate professional development training around arts-integrated teaching and curriculum consultations” and will design custom workshops for classroom art teachers at little to no cost. 

5. Online Learning Platforms

Many online platforms offer art classes specifically designed for art teachers. The website theartyteacher.com has a page of professional development for art teachers listing both pedagogical and practical courses. Online professional development is convenient because it can be done according to your own schedule and at your own pace. 

6. Local Art Supply Stores

Local art supply stores may organize and host workshops and demonstrations for art teachers. These events not only showcase new art materials and techniques but also provide opportunities to network with other local art teachers. Ask art supply stores in your area if they offer any events tailored specifically to educators. 

How to Evaluate Art Teacher Professional Development Opportunities

You’re a busy teacher and artist, not to mention all of your personal and family responsibilities. That means you don’t have time to waste on art teacher professional development opportunities that don’t meet your needs. 

Here are a few questions to ask before you commit to a training or development program. 

  1. Will I earn CEs or certificates?
  2. How much does it cost and will my school or program reimburse me for tuition?
  3. How reputable is the organization or instructor offering the training?
  4. Will this course help me with art, teaching, or both?
  5. Will I access the course in-person, online or both, and does that fit my learning needs?
  6. Does this course or program fit my level of experience?
  7. Do the learning outcomes align with my learning needs right now?
  8. What is the time commitment inside and outside of class?

Art Teacher Professional Development Opportunity evaluation cheat sheet

If the only thing holding you back is cost, talk to your program or organization about tuition reimbursement. You might also be eligible for scholarships or grants. For example, The National Art Education Foundation invests in art teachers by distributing grants for professional development work.  

The Best Teachers Are Still Students

The best teachers are also students. They know that both art and teaching require practice and lifelong learning. When you engage in professional development, you don’t just make yourself a better artist and teacher. You also serve as an example to your students. For more resources you can use as an artist and teacher, check out this list of arts and culture magazines worth recommending to students, or learn how the arts positively affect health.

Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.

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