CoTA (Collaborations: Teachers and Artists)
CoTA (Collaborations: Teachers and Artists) is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that tackles the possibilities of making the arts a lively, essential, and ongoing aspect of elementary school education.
CoTA is based on the belief that integrating the arts—visual arts, dance, music, and drama—into other content areas promotes engagement, accessibility, and relevance for students. Since its inception in 1998, CoTA has collaborated with 1,200 teachers and more than 25,000 students at 41 schools from 6 districts throughout San Diego County.
CoTA artists work with teachers to develop projects that teach academic subjects through art. Through CoTA projects, visual and performing arts are woven into core academic subjects, which can improve students’ communication skills, nurture varied modes of intelligence, sharpen critical thinking, develop students’ practice of judgment, encourage imaginative problem solving, and intensify skills of observation. Additionally, many CoTA projects foster teamwork, nourish the practice of negotiation, and teach the value of process.
In traditional art programs, the artists must be present for the lesson to be taught. CoTA provides teachers with creative strategies so that the teacher can create arts-rich lessons they are able to teach long after the initial project has ended. Instead of working with a teacher once, CoTA collaborates for three ten-week sessions over the course of three years. During year one, teachers learn how arts integration can enhance and extend student learning in other curricular areas. In year two, teachers continue to connect arts to the existing standards while assuming a larger role in directing the project. By the third year, teachers take the lead while an artist provides support.