August 6, 2012  |  Events & Programs, Family & Kids
Connecting Collections Teacher Institute 2012

Teachers in the MoMA galleries, July 13, 2012. Photo: Tiffany Oelfke

On July 13, 40 teachers from around the globe came to MoMA to begin a weeklong Summer Teacher Institute. This year marked the 10th year of Connecting Collections Summer Teacher Institute, a MoMA School and Teacher Program conducted in partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Teachers in the exhibition James Rosenquist: F-111, July 13, 2012. Photo: Tiffany Oelfke

During the week of the institute, we really hope to inspire teachers to use works of art to teach all subject areas. This can do wonders for building critical thinking and visual literacy skills. Since the program’s inception, the four partner museums have been hosting teachers and supporting them in their efforts to learn more about object-based teaching, using modern and contemporary art. Representatives from each museum work with the teachers in smaller seminar groups to develop techniques for integrating the study of visual images into their classrooms. Teachers spend a day at each institution and return to their schools with the inspiration to create meaningful object-based learning strategies that can be integrated into a wide variety of curricula and meet standards for student achievement.

Teachers in the MoMA galleries, July 13, 2012. Photo: Tiffany Oelfke

Breaking down our methods to share with the teachers is not an easy task! Each day, at a different museum, teachers are exposed to a different aspect of our pedagogy, through guided discussions and small-group work in the museum galleries. And in their seminar groups, teachers work individually to develop thematic, object-based lesson plans that they could use in their classroom teaching. On Monday, at MoMA, we explored teaching with themes and the importance of object sequence in developing a lesson. Tuesday, at the Whitney, teachers discussed the role of information in discussions with students around a work of art. Wednesday at the Guggenheim was dedicated to different types of questions and the inquiry method of teaching. Thursday at the Metropolitan, teachers experimented with different types of activities (writing, drawing, movement) through which to engage students with artworks. Friday, the final day, was held at MoMA, where teachers shared their lesson plans and soaked in inspiration from veteran teacher Laurel Schmidt.

Teachers working in small groups. Photo: Tiffany Oelfke

Over the course of the year, while planning how best to communicate what we do to teachers, education staff from these four institutions have the chance to discuss pedagogy. As a team, we agree on the best ways to teach in a museum and share that with the teachers. These meetings are such a unique opportunity to see our colleagues at other institutions, while having valuable conversations about what we do. Each year, we work on ways to improve the Summer Institute, to best serve the teachers. But every year is a wonderfully positive experience, and we learn just as much from the teachers as they do from us.

All teachers and museum staff from Connecting Collections 2012. Photo: Rachel Rabhan