The department’s teacher ambassador, Eva Boster, interviewed a fine arts teacher in Lincoln County who helped develop the Fine Arts Portfolio model now used to measure the growth of fine arts students across the state. Angela Beale has a decade of experience in the classroom, and currently teaches vocal music at Lincoln County High and Ninth-Grade Academy in Lincoln County. Here she talks about why she strives to educate the whole child and why she believes the benefits of the arts are undeniable.
What motivates you to teach?
I have always believed we learn best when we can “do” what it is we are learning, and then share the experience with others. Music has always afforded me that opportunity, no matter my level of achievement. As a teacher, I want every child to experience being an important part of something great. We are much more than a score. We are all important to this world and empowering students to feel just as important as any other person is all the motivation I need.
What is your biggest challenge as a teacher?
I have found funding to be my biggest challenge. All too often the arts are the first to be overlooked and even cut to save money. If we are to educate the whole child, we must support programs that foster individuality and creativity, two characteristics our students need for success in this global economy.
What knowledge and skills do students gain in a fine arts classroom?
A recent independent study by researchers at the University of Kansas discovered music students in Metro Nashville Public Schools surpass their peers in several academic areas. Using four years of data, researchers found Metro music students not only had higher grade-point averages and ACT scores, but also had higher attendance, a better graduation rate, and were less likely to cause discipline problems.
The positive gains for students who participate in the arts are undeniable and limitless. The arts afford us the opportunity to teach children to conquer fear and take risks, sustain effort to achieve success, think creatively to solve problems, find more similarities than differences between ourselves and other cultures, and discover self-expression is the key to confidence and success.
How do you measure student growth in a fine arts classroom?
Before the 2012-13 school year, Lincoln County arts teachers (and other arts teachers across the state) used their school-wide growth measures as part of their evaluation score. To give arts teachers an opportunity to influence their own growth score, Tennessee arts teachers developed the Fine Arts Portfolio to measure student growth in the arts. Art teachers present student work through video, audio, and/or pictorial evidence from two or more points in time to demonstrate growth. This provides peer reviewers an opportunity to see and hear the impact of student learning. As a peer reviewer, I have seen many successful teaching practices through evidence presented in portfolios and that has encouraged me to continue inspiring students to achieve success through growth in the arts.
You can also email Courtney.Seiler@tn.gov with additional questions about the Fine Arts Portfolio model.