It has taken me a few years now to locate some of the amazing professional development sources available for teachers who teach the arts. Below is not an exhaustive list, but a place to get started. I have divided the resources and conferences into three categories: FREE, REASONABLE and EXPENSIVE BUT WORTH IT!
ETFO is offering an online book talk for its members starting in May. The book that will be the focus of this book talk will be “Primary Arts”. An online book talk is a great way to connect with teachers from other boards and get some new ideas. If you are unable to join the book club this spring, consider running your own book talk at your school. ETFO has created manuals for members to run their own book talks at their schools. You can find more information about these book talks at: http://www.etfo.ca/professionaldevelopment/etfosbookclubs/Pages/default.aspx.
Both the OMEA (Ontario Music Educators’ Association) and CODE (Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators) have amazing websites. If you were handed music, drama or dance as part of your teaching package and you have NO idea how to start teaching these subjects, these two websites will get you started. Both have entire units, assessments and modifications that are aligned with the Ontario curriculum for teaching music, dance or drama. You could easily print off a unit from these websites and teach it in your class tomorrow. These can be found at: www.omea.on.ca and www.code.on.ca .
This year, I applied to the Ontario Arts Council to have a guest artist come in and work with my grade five students for a week. The cost of five full days of workshops, including a performance for the community, was $500.00. The money came out of our performance budget at school, but the added bonus was that I had a full week of PD in traditional Cuban music. I learned right along with the students and will be able to continue to teach this type of cultural music going forward. The program is called “Artists in Education”. This program has artists from all over the province in all of the arts disciplines. As many of the conferences and workshops for the arts are in the Greater Toronto Area, this is a great way to get some professional development at your school in the eastern and northern parts of Ontario. Go to: http://www.arts.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=7967.
If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, ORFF Ontario holds excellent workshops three times a year for teachers who instruct music. I have used some part of every ORFF workshop that I have attended in my classroom practice. Even if you don’t have ORFF instruments at your school, the core philosophy of creation, movement and engagement will make your music lessons successful. The workshops are usually in October, February and, for those that are members, there is an extra workshop in March. Workshops are usually between 30 and 50 dollars. It is money well spent. The link is: http://ontarioorff.ca/content/professional-development/workshops/
EXPENSIVE BUT WORTH IT!
Both the OMEA and CODE conferences are intensive experiences with four to six workshops, trade shows, keynote speakers and performances. I have attended everything from “Starting a Ukulele Program” to “Understanding Aboriginal Music”. There is a wide variety of workshops to choose from and I always leave feeling energized and excited about teaching the arts. Both of these conferences are expensive (in the $300-$400 range), but most boards have funds that you can apply for to cover the cost. Your local union may also have money to assist in covering the cost of the conference.
I hope this helps. If you know of another great source for professional development in the arts, please leave a comment below!