How Can Your Institution Better Involve Educators?

Well, there are lots of ways! But the easiest place to start is to look at who’s already doing a great job. Learn from their strengths, and build from their weaknesses – applying what features make the most sense for your organization.

Example in Best Practice: the Seattle Art Museum

In my opinion, one of their greatest strengths is recognizing that teachers are already crunched for time, for energy, and for enthusiasm outside of their working days. To get them jazzed about your programs, institution, and potential influence on their students – you’re gonna have to meet them where they’re at and you’re gonna have to make it easy for them.

Try to subsidize bus rides, or even send your educators to local schools to talk about exhibits and design interactive programs and events around what the kids seem most inspired by! Go to a PTA meeting, or offer programs that get parents involved!

Here’s where the SAM goes above and beyond: first, they give educators a choice: ‘you come to SAM, or SAM comes to you.’ Sure, it’s simple – but it’s surprising how few institutions remember to let patrons pick what’s right for them. Although I think the educator web page could be more interactive and made to facilitate a first-impression of the services to come, the resources are definitely there: between professional development opportunities, the chance to have an artist come to your school, availability of ‘Outreach Suitcases,’ and the Teacher Resource Center (despite the search interface being a bit clunky, it’s amazing!)

You don’t have to be an art museum to adapt some of these resources and implement them at the ground level! If you’re not sure they’ll work for you, the way to find out is pretty easy: go & ask the educators. Involving your community in the discussion about what would be most  beneficial for them (since, well, it’s for them) will go a really long way!!!

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