Expertise: The arts requires varied approaches including gaining, utilising and co-opting the expertise that exists within schools.

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  • Date :  Mar 24, 2013
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  • Tags :  collaboration, creative, gaining expertise, networking

Building Expertise

Building Expertise

This package helps teachers gain and utilise expertise to assist in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts within schools. This package extends the whole of system effort to skill-up professional teaching capacity in each of the five Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) designated arts disciplines. It is fair for teachers to ask, 'how can I teach creative arts if I am not artistic or creatively inclined?' Questions such as this reflect the fact that teachers are concerned about being under-prepared to teach creative arts content. In a recent study of New South Wales teachers, for example, teachers felt the least confident teaching Music, in contrast with Visual Arts, where they felt the most confident. Even when skills in a specific discipline do exist, teachers still feel overwhelmed by responsibility for all five arts disciplines (Music, Media Arts, Dance, Drama and Visual Arts). Put simply, there is a lack of confidence, skills, adequate training and resources (Gibson & Anderson, 2008) to deliver quality arts programs within our schools.

The current reality is that implementing the new Australian Curriculum: The Arts will require a range of approaches that include gaining, utilising and co-opting the expertise that exists within schools, within the local community and online. The arts can act as a catalyst to encourage a transition beyond the teacher as content expert or facilitator to the teacher as activator (Fullan, 2012) in what is described in this package as In a 'flipped' classroom, teachers record lessons, or utilise other existing online content to facilitate lesson delivery. Students then view the recordings and online content, freeing up in-class time with the teacher for more interactive, collaborative and individualised tutorial support. This blended learning approach has the benefit of providing more hands-on time with students to guide and assist them as they engage in higher-end assimilation of information and creating of new ideas.. In such a classroom, the teacher gains and utilises the expertise from a wide range of resources and helps to activate the potential of creative arts to engage students in a variety of forms of making and responding.

The changing role of the teacher

The role of the teacher is changing. In considering teacher expertise, Tiberius, Smith and Waisman (1998) suggest that what we do to become experts and how we seek to develop expertise in others is largely shaped by our view of expertise. At the time they explored this topic, expertise was largely defined within notions of knowledge and skills. Arguably, this view persists in relation to the 'arts' expert.

The concept of teacher expertise has grown in complexity over the past decade, moving beyond notions of knowledge, skills, problem solving and automatic pattern recognition. Reimagining the role of the teacher in the 21st century teaching and learning classroom is occurring as teacher expertise has become more role-centric than content-centric.

Some of the most recent discussion on the 'role' of the teacher revolves around the notion of the teacher as 'activator' (Michael Fullan, 2012). In Stratosphere, Fullan draws heavily upon the work of John Hattie as a rationale for promoting a new activator role for the teacher. Hattie proposes that teachers as activators of learning see stronger learning outcomes than teachers as facilitators.

Activators work with students through offering feedback, accessing thinking, supporting challenging goals and monitoring learning. Whereas facilitators work through problem based learning, simulations, gaming and individualised instruction. Fullan notes that we cannot make this sort of flip happen without a plan. Pedagogy and technology need to be properly aligned with students and teachers acting as teams.

If we accept this view of the teacher as activator, then implementing a classroom-based arts program will focus not only upon arts-based activities and content, but also on:

  • providing feedback
  • accessing thinking
  • supporting challenging goals
  • monitoring learning.

The links below introduce you to strategies and approaches that build the expertise necessary to deliver the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. 


Gibson, R., & Anderson, M. (2008) 'Touching the Void: Arts Education Research in Australia'. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 28(1),103–112. 

Tiberius, Richard G; Smith, Ronald A; and Waisman, Zohar. (1998) 'Implications of the Nature of "Expertise" for Teaching and Faculty Development'. Paper 419.

Michael Fullan (2012). Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge. Pearson Publishing.

Gard, Timothy (2012). Book Review: Stratosphere by Michael Fullan, MindShare Learning website.

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.