As an Arts Educator, I know the perils of our profession.

We are always the ones who get shortchanged for time.  We are always the ones who are looking for connections to the content areas.  We are always the ones who are considered “extras”.  During these tight budget times, this becomes even more highlighted.  It can be disheartening at best and frightening at worse.  So what is there to do?

Fortunately, there are many ways to bolster your program, become an integral part of your school community and be the linchpin of your school improvement plan. Sounds too good to be true?  Not really.  It’s all in how you play the game.We need to begin to shift our mindsets from fighting for time and space to showcasing our best advertisers: our students.

Here are some easy ways to start to advocate for your arts program WITHOUT the awkward feeling of being a beggar in a pauper’s society:

1.) Produce high-quality work.

This one seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a school where the artwork has been hastily thrown up on the walls or the students are playing through a piece of music with little or no technique.  By setting high standards for yourself and your students, you are showing how much value there is in your program.

2.) Work smarter, not harder.

Use technology to your advantage.  Set up a class website through EduBlogs and share student work (artwork, student song compositions, dance recitals, etc) weekly.  Upload homework assignments for the week, resources parents can reference at home and even where you can find local Arts teachers for private studio work.  By making your program transparent, you are helping others to see what value you bring to the students every day.  Which brings me to…

3.) Use those parents.

Find out which of your parents have some background or experience in your Arts area and reach out to them.  See if they could come in to your class to help out a couple of times.  Meet with parents during parent/teacher conferences and show them a portfolio of their child’s work.  When parents know what you do with their child each day, they are more likely to fight to keep you there.

4.) Become a part of your school community.

Volunteer to sit on the School Improvement Committee.  Become a part of the PTA.  Come to after-school events.  The more a part of the school tapestry you become, the more teachers, administrators, students and parents will engage in YOUR program.

Want more ideas for advocating for your Arts program?

Check out our 6-lesson course A Vocal Advocate, which you can now download in its entirety for only $49!  You’ll receive practical, sequential steps that you can take to bring out the very best in your program.  Also, be sure to check out the Arts Education Advocacy Toolkit provided by the Kennedy Center, which is full of little things you can do to make a big difference.