Creative Exchange – A Teacher Mentoring Programme
Artistic Facilitator Jennifer Phelan 2008 saw Fingal Arts Office initiate a teacher training programme in the visual arts at primary level. The predominant aim is to introduce teachers to creative approaches to teaching the primary visual art curriculum. All primary level schools in Fingal were eligible to apply for the programme. Mary Mother of Hope National School in Littlepace was successful with their application and so the training initiative began with five participating teachers and contemporary artist Jennifer Phelan presiding over the project.
The programme aimed to instil confidence in teachers and challenge ways of engaging with and thinking about art within the classroom, by introducing teachers to contemporary arts practice in Ireland, exploring various art materials and their uses within the classroom and by encouraging visits to national cultural institutions where art programmes are accessible to school groups
The project had two phases; Phase one involved the Artist facilitating ten exploratory workshops with the teachers after school hours where they experimented with new processes and materials. Phase two involved the teachers executing a project with their pupils, with regular visits of support from the Artist. The participating teachers finished the programme with a developed confidence in their ability to implement the visual art curriculum within their classroom. One teacher explained: ‘This programme has been hugely beneficial to me and my class. I have learned a lot about the importance of the process in art lessons rather than the end product. Jennifer has been an excellent facilitator and gave a lot of her time, she was professional and enthusiastic and the children loved having her in the classroom, as did I. I think the programme is a very valuable tool in developing skills in the arts and exploring new ways of making art in the classroom. I received very positive feedback from parents, whose children had spoken about the project at home.’