The Reflexive Teaching Artist (Book)

Collected Wisdom from the Drama/Theatre Field

Writing from the dual perspectives of artist and educator, Kathryn Dawson and Daniel A. Kelin II raise fundamental questions about the complex functions of the teaching artist in school, community and professional theatre settings. Contributions to the text explore a series of foundational concepts, including intentionality, quality, artistic perspective, assessment and praxis, all used as a reflective framework to illuminate case studies from a wide range of teaching artist practice.

Readers are also offered questions to guide their practical application, charts to complete, and the editors examine the practice of teaching in, through and about drama and theatre. 


The Reflexive Teaching Artist invites Teaching Artists at all levels of experience to consider the power of reflective practice. Kathryn Dawson and Daniel A. Kelin, II offer a reflective framework – a series of foundational concepts, including intentionality, quality, artistic perspective, assessment and praxis – illuminated through reflexive case-study examples from Teaching Artists in a wide range of settings. The authors write from the dual perspectives of artist and educator to raise fundamental questions about the complex intentions, relationships and function of the teaching artist in school, community and professional theatre settings. Through questions, guided reflection activities, collected wisdom from the field, and an introductory action-research model, Dawson, Kelin and their contributors closely examine the practice of teaching in, through and about drama and theatre.

Kathryn Dawson is assistant professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin and serves as director of the Drama for Schools program. 

Daniel A. Kelin II is director of drama education at the Honolulu Theater for Youth and teaching artist on the national roster of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 


Part 1: A Teaching Artist Reflects 

Chapter 1: The Teaching Artist 

Chapter 2: Reflective Practice 

Part 2: Collected Wisdom

Chapter 3: Intentionality 

Intentionality Case Studies

Learning to listen: Lessons for Teaching Artists from a Minneapolis mosque – Sarah Myers

Stories of my life: A Teaching Artist reflects on cultural consciousness – Roxanne Schroeder-Arce

Devised performance in a gender-specific juvenile probation program – Amanda Hashagen

Audition notice(d): Taking steps to align mission and admission – Lisa M. Barker

Remaking how a site is perceived and experienced: The ghosts of Waller Creek Project – Michelle Dahlenburg

Chapter 4: Quality

Quality Case Studies

What does quality theatre for young audiences look like? – Tamara Goldbogen

Suit My Heart: Staging foster youth narratives that hit home – Michelle Hayford

How do we find relevance? – Gary Minyard

On both shores: Teaching across personal/political distance – Nicole Gurgel

Balancing artistic and language-learning goals in Lincoln Center Theater’s Learning English and Drama Project – Kati Koerner

Chapter 5: Artistic Perspective

Artistic Perspective Case Studies

Developing ‘dramatic metaphor’ to teach concepts of science – Jo Beth Gonzalez

The art of relationship: Intergenerational theatre – Marsha Gildin

Bridging the divide with Shakespeare: Theatre as moral education in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Andrew Garrod

Dramaturgy by students – Carol T. (Jones) Schwartz and Kim Bowers-Rheay-Baran

What’s Happened to Queen Fancy Fish? Deconstructing an applied theatre lesson for the early childhood classroom – Karina Naumer

Chapter 6: Assessment

Assessment Case Studies

Capturing the story: A Teaching Artist’s attempt to assess a documentary theatre project in rural Alaska – Ryan Conarro

The applications of theatre as pedagogical and research methodologies: Scenes and waves of investigative dialogues across the Nordsjøen (North Sea) – Heli Aaltonen and Stephanie Knight

Engaging the outliers: One theatre educator’s journey to reach her most challenging students through choice, rigor and empowerment – Tracy Kane

Reflection as a bridge between program evaluation and instruction – Cory Wilkerson and Jennifer Ridgway

Naming our learning along the way through arts-based assessment – Bridget Kiger Lee

Chapter 7: Praxis

Praxis Case Studies

The vagabond’s dilemma: Representing host culture as a guest – Jamie Simpson Steele

Activating community: Process-centered philosophy in a product-oriented world – Gillian McNally

Playing at praxis: Locating youth voices in history – Megan Alrutz

Enacting liderazgo: Where drama praxis and Latino leadership intersect – Christina Marín

Essentializing residencies: Collecting trophies of the oppressed – Peter B. Duffy

Part 3: The Reflexive Practitioner

Chapter 8: Participatory Action Research

Final Reflections

'There’s so much here that can be adopted, adapted, and used by teaching artists, no matter where they practice. This is a very well done, practical, and important addition to the field.'

Education Update

This study includes high-quality reflection on the issues surrounding the role of the teaching artist in the drama/theatre sector, while reflective exercises offer practical ways to embed these ideas and concepts into an existing teaching practice.' 

Laura Bissell, The Scottish Journal of Performance
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