The Tennessee Arts Academy provides a variety of ways that teachers can stay connected through networking, mentoring, and self-evaluation opportunities.
An on-going Tennessee Arts Academy initiative is the TAA Mentorship Program. The focus of the TAA Mentorship Program is to connect new and young educators with successful, experienced teachers. The program matches teachers in the same arts discipline area, allowing the mentoring teacher the ability to provide resources, classroom management techniques, advice, and lesson plan assistance throughout the year. The TAA Mentorship Program not only increases interaction between new and exemplary educators, but also helps develop positive growth in teacher performance and motivation. Both mentors and mentees are given an opportunity to register for this program each summer during the Academy week.
TAA offers numerous networking and resource sharing opportunities. Because TAA groups teachers by content area and grade level, each day of the Academy is filled with opportunities to network. Time is given at the end of each session for teachers to exchange thoughts and ideas on what they have learned that day. Special “Caring and Sharing” Interlude workshops are offered in every discipline area to provide participants an outlet to explain methods, techniques, and strategies that work for them in their own classrooms. The TAA Arts Expo, Vendor Fair and Artist Market is another way teachers can network with resource providers. The TAA website offers lesson plans and other valuable resource information that is made available to all TAA attendees. Finally, and most importantly, TAA participants have time each day during breakfast, lunch, and at the many social events held throughout the week to form new friendships and to interact with arts colleagues from across the state.
Beyond person-to-person connections, TAA encourages participants to get in touch with their own emotions and perspectives on the day’s events. Time is set aside daily to reflect on the sights, sounds, and experiences that have occurred throughout the Academy week. Participants may remain in the cafeteria after lunch, return to their core class area building, or simply find a quiet place on campus in order to record thoughts and impressions. A special Tennessee Arts Academy journal is provided to each participant for this purpose.