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Why Teach

I am excited to announce that I will be co-presenting at the 2019 NAEA convention in Boston, MA with my mentor teacher, Demetrius Fuller. We hope to see you there!

Studio H.O.M.ies

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At our art department meeting this month we watched the TED Talk Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist?

While watching the video, we thought about:

  • What assumptions the presenter makes about teaching art.
  • What we agreed with her as essential to quality education.
  • What we argued/disagreed is not good in art classes.
  • What we aspire to/what we want to act on.

We had good conversations about our teaching philosophies, case loads and schedules.

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I love this collage made by four of my first grade students! It was made over a few class periods when students were done with their assignment work and had “choice time.” Students practiced valuable skills while working together. First, they had to agree on which players to include. Later they had to agree (or compromise) when choosing colors for the background. Different students took on different jobs when it came to making each part of the player’s outfits. They used an iPad to research what each jersey should look like and talked to each other throughout the process to create details like grassy texture (using edger scissors and markers), cleats and team flags. The process wasn’t always easy, and I’m so proud of how my students worked together to solve each problem. After finishing their work, my obvious question was, “Who gets to take it home?” After talking to each other, they decided that the fair solution was to give it to me! I’m excited to display this in my room next year, but also wanted them to have a memory of the process, so I took a picture of their work and printed a color copy of the image for each student. 🙂

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I recently read this article about what artists can learn from teachers.

I think it is so important for art teachers to maintain a personal practice. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your students… and not just by making teacher samples, but by engaging in artistic practices–looking at art and sketching and planing and doing (and re-doing). As a full-time teacher, however, it can be difficult to make time to make my own work. Whenever I meet someone new, and they find out that I’m an art teacher, their second question is usually, “Do you make your own work?” I don’t have a simple answer. It usually depends on the season.

During the school year, especially in the fall, I often spend most of my free time setting up my classroom, planning for the year, experimenting with new lessons and generally getting back into the routine of being at school. During this time, I often spend more time thinking about work that I’d like to make instead of making it. In the winter and spring, I tend to spend less time outdoors and more time indoors, which means more time working on personal projects. Winter in New England is a great time to devote to my own practice. At the end of the school year, I am often busy with our all-school art show, end-of-year events, handing back work, taking inventory, and ordering materials for the following year.

The time ebbs and flows, but the point is that I continue to make time for myself.

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that the less tightly I hold onto one artistic identity (“painter,” “printmaker,” etc.), and the more space I give myself to make–to try new media and techniques–the more I usually enjoy making art. The more permission I give myself to make, the more opportunities I give myself to discover new ways of creating.

This weekend I’ve been snowed in and have spent my time finishing work for an upcoming show I am co-curating at Dorchester Art Project. As February break approaches, I’m excited to devote a full week to my personal practice.

Do you make your own work? How do you balance/schedule your time?