I focus on social and emotional learning, through hands on projects and interactive problem solving. I strive to create lessons that engage problem solving and Growth Mindset in my students, and to create a community of co learning in the classroom. Using classroom management methods from Responsive Classroom, I maintain a dynamic, engaging, and fun classroom learning environment. In addition, I teach collaborative projects that require teamwork and communication skill building. The more students need to practice communication, mutual respect, sharing, taking turns, expressing their needs and boundaries, and negotiating and working together to accomplish the task at hand, the better.
As I strongly believe that the environment influences learning, I design my classroom to allow myriad experience: movement, inspiring sound, space to build, as well as quiet spaces for my students to rest and recharge. The use of visual provocations on the walls, and ample space for student work throughout the school allows students to connect to art making within a greater community, as well as to feel ownership and pride over their own work. When appropriate to my teaching practice, I send home Notes from the Art Studio to connect the practice in the classroom with students’ families for each lesson.
My students are Artists and Creators, and are constantly evolving and changing. As we learn together, I work tirelessly to refine my practice to best suit my student Artists' creative process. Learning itself is a lifelong co creative process; I view my role as that of providing space for students to connect to their own passion and connection to the visual world, and to set the tone to support Studio Habits for that lifelong creative process. I want my students to be able to take risks, think for themselves, practice compassion toward others as well as kind self-regard, and to not get stuck on “perfectionism” or external motivation. I want students to cultivate their own internal motivation and satisfaction for work well done. I want them to feel that art is fun, because it is. It’s making something out of nothing! It’s magic.
At my current position, I encourage independent thinking and decision-making, and students’ own creativity, as well as their engagement with each other, so that all the students know that they are purveyors of knowledge as well as the teacher. We collaboratively churn out ideas during introductions to new projects, and then use those ideas in artmaking. Making work is a dynamic and co-creative process. Above all, I believe in the dignity of the child, and work to preserve it, so that students can build up their own intrinsic artmaking and problem-solving capabilities. Since my students are all learning English, I also weave in English vocab into the lessons, and encourage them to speak and express themselves as much as possible. When my students are native English speakers, I also add relevant vocabulary to each lesson, enhancing their language, knowledge of context, and ability to speak about Art, as well as their understanding of Art History.
In art class, we explore various media, such as drawing, painting, ink, liquid watercolors, sculpture, collage, papier-maché, printmaking, fiber/textile arts, ceramics and “clay play” and more: Land Art, using natural materials, word art, portraiture, quick figure drawing, metal wire sculpture, mobile-making, and so on. I draw inspiration from Artists Throughout History, and read books projected onto the whiteboard with google reader or my own Kindle on Mac e-reader. Some of my tried and true favorites are: Henri’s Scissors (about Henri Matisse), The Noisy Paintbox (Vasily Kandinsky), Camille and the Sunflowers (Van Gogh), From Here to Infinity (Yayoi Kusama) and so on. Some more of my favorite artists to teach/model art projects on: Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, Romare Bearden, Nikki de St. Phalle, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Keith Haring, Hundertwasser, and many contemporary artists: Andy Goldsworthy, Heather Hansen, Kehinde Wiley, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, Tara Donovan, and many more. I especially love teaching about female artists and artists who are POC (as I am) or have a strong environmental rights streak in their artwork. Within history, strong independent female artists and also male artists who defied society’s expectations during their time help me teach my students about strong characteristics such as: doing the right thing, standing up for your friends, listening to your own spirit, and taking risks. The lessons that these lives pass down live on forever, and I am grateful to them for helping me instill these values in both myself and my students.
I believe in schools not only as places of learning, but places of being. Students are not only learning facts out of books, but also indiscernible lessons in how to conduct themselves, how to communicate, how to share of themselves. They learn by observing, and watching what the adults and their fellow students are doing. Aware that a school is a community, I strive to uphold myself as a model to my students, a friend to my colleagues, and a dependable, creative, and helpful employee to the Admin staff. In general, keeping things light and having fun, I find, can easily be woven into real work, and for me, a good balance between quiet, focused stretches of time, and lighter times full of collaboration, and open-ended projects work well. My colleagues are always there when I need their help, and they know that I’m there for them, as well, whether they need help with new ideas, interpersonal mediation, hands-on project assistance, or general problem-solving. At the end of the day, we all do our best, not as infallible beings, but as real, human, flawed, and always willing to try again. And that is the beauty of it.