Don't be discouraged by the pitfalls described below - if you are aware of the potential stumbling blocks then you are well on the way to avoiding them.

  1. Dumbing it down. Young people are incredibly creative and capable. When teachers and artists bring challenging content and support the students participation extraordinary work happens.
  2. Ill-matched expectations. A project about hard-hitting personal stories may sound exciting to a theatre director, but if your partner teacher had more of a 'feel good' concept in mind, it's worth exploring why. It may be that the target participants have particular needs that will shape the project design.
  3. Avoiding tricky conversations. If you avoid the conversations with your partner artist or teacher that you find uncomfortable it will probably come back to bite you. Easier to talk about 'hypothetical' potential issues and clarify things beforehand than clean up a mess once you're in it.
  4. Too big! Too big! A 'whole school' project with 240 students all working toward a major performance at a festival may sound great. In reality, the experience may lack depth and cause too much stress. Smaller in-depth projects can generate rich, targeted learning outcomes.
  5. Doing it all yourself. Project coordinators are wonderful people. They can take on many tasks and challenges. How they do this successfully is by asking and trusting others to share these tasks with them.
  6. Us and them. Some of the clichés about artists and teachers will be true some of the time. If you set aside your assumptions, though, and build a respectful relationship most of those clichés will get blown out of the water.
  7. Being vague. Open-ended exploration, play, experimentation and participant-led work may be methods that some artists use BUT a professional artist or a teacher should be able to explain in plain language what their process will be and why. Being transparent with your partner may transform what may look for them like 'chaos' into meaningful learning opportunities.
  8. Throwing them in the deep end. Perhaps the artist on your project has worked in a school before. Regardless it is important to take them on a tour, induct them into school procedures and rules and point out which cups not to use in the staff room! Don't leave them to work alone with students - it is a teacher's duty of care to be in the room.
  9. Too busy to talk. Sometimes projects can build up a head of steam. With partners juggling multiple tasks it may seem like a low priority to make time to have a cuppa and reflect on how things are going. The opposite is true. Time to meet is of the utmost importance.
  10. Too late to change. Your project may not work out the way you planned. It is good to remember that at any point in time you can meet, reassess and make changes to make the plan more viable as long as all involved are consulted.