Laurel Schmidt, Teaching

How Can Laurel
help you achieve your goals?

Professional Development for Staff & Volunteers

Laurel's area of expertise is coaching museum educators and volunteer staff in creating or refining interactive, inquiry-based experiences with art. She has worked with major museums across the country to create or retool their visitor experiences. Laurel is an essential part of the annual new docent boot camp in some museums. But she also provides professional development for established educators and docents, such as the hundreds of volunteers who guide tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even veteran docents, drilled in the stand-and-deliver method, consistently respond to the creative potential of having an authentic conversation with museum visitors while sharing their expert knowledge.

Mastering Inquiry-Based Conversations

After one session with Laurel, docents can confidently tackle squirmy kids, bizarre comments, visitor-experts who try to hijack the tour and worst of all — silence. And she does it with passion, energy and humor. During her highly-engaging sessions participants learn to:

  • Master the three
    basic steps of an inquiry dialogue
  • Craft questions that boost visitors' ability and willingness to respond
  • Spot questions that silence a conversation
  • Use their 'expert' knowledge to build momentum
  • Overcome the terror of wait-time
  • Create indelible experiences that insure many happy returns
  • Manage behavior with a velvet glove

Reaching out to Art-Hungry Educators

Teaching with Art is Teaching for Excellence
Laurel is a nationally-recognized teacher trainer who speaks teacherese fluently. She knows the challenges educators face from personal experience so they trust her when she says that teaching with art is teaching for excellence. Each year she works with teachers from around the world during the Connecting Collections program jointly sponsored by MOMA, the Guggenheim, The Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. She is the co-author of Contemporary Art Start (CAS), the signature art education curriculum of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. Her workshops for primary and secondary teachers are designed to:

Integrate museum collections and methods into classroom instruction

Demonstrate why art and inquiry are brain-boosters

Model methods for teaching with art

Engage in critical and creative thinking activities

Encourage the use of artworks as primary sources in classrooms

Explore interdisciplinary curriculum connections

Understand the role of art in achieving standards-based objectives