Models of Professional Development for Art Teachers

Fine arts educators can participate in ongoing, meaningful professional development based on the five models of professional development proposed by Sparks and Loucks-Horsley (1989). Training, traditionally the most common professional development approach, is one of the five models. The other four alternative models supplement training and help teachers and administrators acquire important job-related knowledge and skills.


In this model, teachers investigate topics by themselves or in small groups. The process of inquiry can take a number of forms. In the action research model, teachers identify a problem, collect data from research or classroom-based exploration, analyze the data, and come to a conclusion about the best course of action to enhance student learning. The teacher may continue the inquiry process by collecting and analyzing data after taking a new course of action. Another form of inquiry is a study or reading group in which colleagues explore and share new ideas to enhance student learning. This model relies on the professional educator’s ability to take reflective action.

Involvement in a development/improvement process

Working to solve a problem is an excellent way to learn new skills, attitudes, and behaviors. The process of systemic school improvement can mobilize a faculty to evaluate current practices and determine solutions to challenges that may impede student progress. Also, working at the district level to develop curriculum aligned with the Fine Art TEKS can be a powerful professional development experience. Many fine arts teachers value these opportunities to work collaboratively with colleagues to solve problems or produce products that will enhance learning beyond the teacher’s immediate classroom.


Observation uses external evaluation as a tool for teacher analysis and reflection. Colleagues or other personnel act as eyes and ears for fine arts teachers. They observe and provide feedback on instructional practices, classroom management, and other issues. The use of videotape, allowing a teacher to observe himself or herself in action, is also effective. Watching the videotape with a colleague to identify student demonstration of the TEKS and effective techniques for teaching the Fine Arts TEKS can be an enlightening experience. Many teachers comment on the power of video in helping them improve their teaching practice.

Individually guided staff development

In this alternative model, each fine arts teacher designs his or her own learning activities with the primary goal of enhancing student acquisition of the Fine Arts TEKS. Teachers may do a self-assessment of their own knowledge and understanding of the TEKS in order to identify areas where they need to learn more. Then the teacher, possibly in collaboration with colleagues and/or administrators, sets goals, identifies strategies for achieving goals, and sets benchmarks to evaluate learning along the way. This model is good for individuals who are motivated by selecting their own learning goals and means of accomplishing the goals. Oftentimes, this self-directed development empowers teachers and creates a sense of professionalism.


In this model, an expert presenter, who may be a classroom teacher, aligns objectives and learning activities and monitors participants’ learning. The goals for staff development training typically include awareness, knowledge, and skill development. Trainers also strive for changes in attitude and transfer of learning. Effective training programs include:

  • exploration of theory
  • demonstration of practice
  • supervised trial of new skills with feedback on performance
  • peer coaching beyond the context of the workshop.