(work in progress)
The more students feel a sense of ownership and find the connections in Art the better!
I value the creativity, imagination, deep thinking, problem-solving and expressiveness that art reveals. Looking back throughout history our greatest inventors and scientist merged scientific knowledge and discovery with artistic creativity. Albert Einstein studied piano and violin as a child and as an adult, it was music that helped him think things through. Music was his "go to" when he was having trouble with a scientific theory, and he chose to play the piano or the violin which often free up a constructive thought or solution. Einstein stressed the importance of the creative mind, once saying, “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination, which I think is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Art also has always held four important characteristics for me as an individual, professional and even more so as a teacher. I find creating art to be therapeutic, allowing one to focus more on the creative process and releases the mind from the negativity our lives may be enduring. Art is also a great tool for communicating through visual stories and releases emotions that may be difficult to openly discuss with others. When individuals feel safe coupled with a positive environment they often excel in the art room leaving behavior issues, fear of failure and daily challenges at the door.
Art is therapeutic.
I understand sometimes one just has a bad day. Many people use art to escape unhappy living situations as well as express the happiest of times in their lives. Art can totally redirect a life in a positive way. Providing an art show at the local library for one of my students I observed her posture change as others viewed her work with smiles, awe, and respect. I could see the confidence within her grow. After the show, she was offered more opportunities to provide pieces for additional community events. Offering one student a moment like this redirected her life and mine as well. Although I don’t see her for art anymore she already has set her artistic career goal, and I know I will hear her name again in the future. This was a personal and teaching rewarding experience for me. Not because I organized a student show but because a child’s art was seen by our community and, in turn, she felt more confident about her work and her talent to continue to pursue it. During the early morning session of art before school, a student was so tired and not ready to start his day. He went to art and after everyone completed his work, we all shared and offered positive feedback. That child perked up, was jumping and dancing to his own tune and ready to get a day at school started.
Art is Visual Communication
Every child’s environment is not always an easy one. Many children for many reasons may not use words for communication. It’s hard for them or they don’t speak the language. Art or visual stories allows a way for communication by providing an hands-on way to express ourselves when our words sometimes fail us. Providing all students the opportunity to have art and to share their thoughts in an expressive way can be quite revealing but also exciting. Many students that have been labeled as behavioral or special needs often find art as their way to communicate as well as a way to be seen beyond their behavior and/or special needs label. ELL students share their lives using vibrant visual stories. Art also allows me the opportunity to learn more about my students, how they learn, determine their strengths and character through their visual stories.
Art is Enriching
The arts as a whole enriches our lives as a creative outlet but also promotes higher learning. Students that share a passion for art, music and performing arts are often more organized, have higher retention and are academically successful. As an art teacher, I believe that I should offer students art enrichment opportunities within the school day. Art enrichment is additional to art class special and usually set up for students assessed as Gifted and Talented. Being able to offer enrichment art gives Gifted and Talented students with the passion for art to be able to do more of what they are passionate about as well as enhance problem-solving and creative thinking. Providing art enrichment reveals to students that I support and value their art passion as part of their education. Art enrichment also allows me to assist and encourage students to share their talents within their general education classroom and to utilize their visual art strengths in every aspect of their lives.
Artwork should be Discussed
Teaching students how to positively give and take feedback from peers and adults in a positive manner is important. Discussing art pieces has many benefits in creating strong classroom relationships, motivates honesty and builds trust. All students should learn to read, respect and discuss other's artwork as part of their art education as early as Kindergarten. Allowing open critiques teaches students to respect other's hard work as well as the person feelings about their work. It also teaches a more in-depth art vocabulary and understanding of how other processes may differ from their own and that that is okay. It is healthy to receive feedback, share an opinion and to openly discuss how others may view artwork differently. Everyone has an opinion and everyone's opinion should be respected.
I absolutely believe that art enriches and deepens our perspective of the world around us. It can be the way some of us express ourselves in a nonviolent manner. Art should never be considered a separate class where only the fun happens. Art coupled with academics offers additional options that prove students are learning. Over the past two years, I have observed students at proficiency in art and academics at their grade level, and some have also exceeded the proficiency standards in both as well. When offering students in book groups the option to write a summary or create a visual project to share their learning many choose the visual project. It is my belief that they enjoy the process of creating and planning. I have witnessed the pride in students when they have completed their project and presented it to their peers. I also believe creating art and/or visual projects allow students to appreciate and understand what they are learning, that they retain more through the creative process, and that the information sticks with them for life.
As we all know teaching can be defined as the simple act of sharing one’s knowledge and skill with another. As a teacher, I greatly value learning from others because I have found that it provides additional opportunities to enhance my practice so that I may share more knowledge and learning options with my students. Through a Proficiency-Based Learning Class with USM, in collaboration with the art teachers at the elementary and middle school level as well as the Gifted and Talented Coordinator, and I am working on an assessment process for the Gifted and Talented visual art students.
Personally, I strive to exceed expectations as well as hold others to high expectations. As a teacher, these qualities are intended to encourage perseverance and hard workers to think deeply, take risks, become creative problem solvers, and provide constructive criticism through respect and kindness but I also hope to help students strive to always do their best work. Quality over Quantity. I truly believe all children are capable of great things and I hope to always encourage children to reach for the stars in everything that they aspire to do throughout their lives.