The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. – Plutarch
Learning, I believe, should be approached holistically and that the integral goal of a teacher is to educate individuals to embrace challenge and take responsibility for shaping a better world.
As an Art Educator, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my own subject knowledge and pedagogical skills. I feel that modeling behavior is the largest (and easiest) way to influence students and so I always endeavor to show the students my own art making processes, my ideas and discuss my professional development. I like to organize large scale projects throughout the school (murals, photo contests, artist visits, field trips) which encourage them to appreciate that Art does not just happen in the classroom; but is an ongoing process of lifelong learning.
In my classroom experiences, I have found that every single student is creative and inquisitive with their own talents and gifts. Therefore, each student can develop these traits to find within themselves self-esteem, knowledge and success. In order to facilitate its emergence, I focus more on individual understanding and break down concepts, ideas, demonstrate skills and scaffold ideas with my students, sometimes even detailing my own thought process to give a starting point. I organize project based learning with clear instructions, rubrics and re-submission guidelines, so that students can learn and develop understanding while still attaining high achievement.
I consider myself a hands-on teacher, but I feel that self-directed education is the most effective way to guide students in the education of Art. I constantly encourage students by asking open, active questions that direct themselves and their classmates towards careful consideration and thoughtful responses in their work. I encourage cross curricular collaboration and invite real world experiences into the classroom. I structure my lessons in a way that allows me to define large concepts, pose open questions to incite discussion, illustrate expectations with exemplars and then give time for students to explore tasks on their own and with peers. This allows me time to approach students individually so that I can guide their learning and address learning styles and struggles. I like to conduct regular critiques at different stages of the art process and have developed protocols to ensure that each student can be a presenter, a viewer and a critic.
I fully believe that no two students approach learning the same and so I like to encourage my students to experiment with all media and technology available, becoming comfortable with their art process and their own path to learning, developing confidence to explore ideas and creative styles as they develop (sometimes limitless) possibilities of manipulating media and technology. I know as a teacher, I am most successful when I can appreciate each student for their own unique gifts.
In order to learn, a student needs a secure, positive environment, with time and space to grow, to think, to get their hands dirty and to reflect with an encouraging knowledgeable teacher who, at the least; is able to facilitate the way and at the best; is wise enough to let the way be discovered by the student.