I perceive education as a learning experience that involves interactions between student and teacher, student and peer, teacher and colleague, and individual in a community. As an aspiring art educator I feel strongly that these interactions create a meaningful understanding of other cultures within the communities in which we are involved. With a greater understanding of the diversity within my teaching, I will be able to increase my multicultural competency and have a greater impact on all my students. Having travelled to a variety of different countries, I will practice and instill acceptance of other cultures, ideas, and people in my students . It is my job to adapt and transmit information to the students I teach with respect and competency. Having an understanding of self has the ability to open up one's creativity and therefore can further the experience that the student has in producing artwork. Positive enforcement will help me create a stronger connection with those in the communities I see myself in.
In order to further the learning and knowledge of my students, the classroom should contain “empty space.” This concept, developed by John Hunter, uses the combination of traditional knowledge (taught by teachers) with original knowledge (established by students). Empty space advocates students to have a voice in the classroom, which will encourage them to be active learners throughout their life. Using this space as a tool for expanding student knowledge, students will look deeper into developing the art making processes. An important aspect of teaching is the educator’s ability to assess his or her students’ understanding of the materials. In order to gauge students’ artwork I find that a double grading system, where the students receive two grades per assignment most effective. It will evaluate both “bravery and technical” aspects of the students learning. I suggest this system because I feel that it caters to the diverse learning abilities that all individuals exercise (left and right brain ability). I will gain a deeper understanding of my students in-class work before at home assignments. Another tool I will use for grading is group discussion, which furthers the concept behind an in-class “empty space” and developing a more sophisticated critiquing skill.
Using the information I gain from the dialogue, I will modify the lesson plans and refine them based on my understanding of the students’ needs and timing. It is important as a teacher to be malleable to fit the needs of the students. To further improve my teaching I will engage my community in some of the art lessons that I teach. This encourages student engagement along with exposure to professional artist’s. For example, in a sculpture relief project where repetition of material was a requirement I invited a local artist who work reflected this specific characteristic to talk with students about the importance of material. Students then were able to ask questions to the professional and receive an additional perspective of their projects. This process will only be successful if I myself become involved with my community prior to engaging students. Being able to learn from these experiences will encourage me to challenge my expectations of my students and the inevitable assumptions that I make about them. It is crucial for all educators to be active students themselves and further question what is relevant in art. Experiencing the same challenges as a mentor in art is something that creates unity between student and educator and something I feel is needed more in our classrooms. Only recently have I viewed my professors and past teachers as mentors for my future of teaching and artistic practices, and I want this to reflect onto my students.