Fieldwork and observation hours are a critical component of your preparation as an arts educator. Fieldwork hours should complement your coursework and provide an opportunity for you to explore multiple arts education settings.
Test out different art education settings: Now’s your chance to try out a variety of learning space to see what you like. Charter schools, independent schools, public schools, elementary or secondary students, museums, Boys & Girls Clubs, adult learning, community art centers, etc. Try them all! This is your chance to gain access and exposure to environments that can be pretty tough to visit unless you have a reason. Field Work, and the “credential” of being a graduate student at CCNY is an access point for you to explore. Go for placements that are interesting to you!
Treat every visit like a job interview. Dress professionally (whatever that means for the site), be your best-on-time-on-point self, call your contact to make sure they are expecting you, bring your resume with you, ask people what they look for when they are hiring. Then, once you’re there, show your best self so that they want to invite you back…this is a great way to find student teaching placements that may turn into jobs.
Always take notes! Your observations will be valuable as you develop your own teaching strategies. Pay attention to how the educator starts and ends class, how she transitions from one activity to the next, how she organizes supplies, decorates the room, provides student feedback, asks questions, and manages different types of learners. Keep lists of artists shown and activity/project ideas. This will be an invaluable resource as you plan your own classes.
Finding a Placement
Ask your classmates: Many people in your class already have connections that they could easily connect you with! Talk to each other. Many people already work in schools, museums, community centers. All of the “more senior” students have done field work and have connections at places. This is the time to build your community of practice with your peers.
Do your research: Ask yourself about places you’ve always been curious about… in your neighborhood, in the city. This is just the excuse to knock on some doors and meet people.
Participate in a program: If you volunteer, teach, or otherwise participate in a program where learning in the arts is happening, this can count as your fieldwork. Try CCNY’s partnership with PS 161 to get hands on experience while satisfying your observation hours!
Communicate professionally: Once you’ve found a site, it is a good idea to reach out to your potential sites by writing a letter or making a contact with a classmate or a phone call. Often times, that’s enough. But sometimes a letter from the program or other paperwork is required by the site. Usually a letter from you will suffice (see examples here). If your site requires a letter from CCNY, contact the Program Director. You can talk to the Field work office if forms regarding TB tests are required.
Communicate often: Remember that the people and organizations you are observing are doing you a favor. Confirm your arrival time with them in advance and send thank you notes.
CCNY Forms: Forms are available from the field work office at CCNY – NAC room 6/207A – they are also available as PDFs here. You will need to have your time “initialed” by someone at the site. At the end of the semester, your professor will sign off on your initialed forms and you will turn them in to the Field Work office. Make photo copies of everything before turning it in to the field work office and keep these for your personal records.