My focus as a teacher is on student advocacy, exploration, and multidisciplinary learning.
By listening to the needs, goals, and interests of my students I can craft lessons around what my students want to know, and create a collaborative studio that that allows them the freedom to problem solve through artistic exploration.
Acknowledging and adapting to each class’ differing needs will allow me to make the classroom a better learning space focused on using our differences as a chance to grow as a collaborative whole.
How do you create an engaging space when your classroom doesn't take up space?
How do we create an equitable classroom when students at home are battling socioeconomic hurdles, and everyone has a different background, set of interests, and level of enthusiasm about the content?
How do you teach students how to sew and cook without ever seeing them or providing them materials to use? These were some of the challenges that came with full-time online learning.
I've found that high schoolers are very well programmed to respond with data. They wait for me to give them questions to which there is a set, finite answer, and which they can quickly Google to regurgitate definitions. Asking them what they think about a topic is met with "Tell me what to say and I'll repeat it".
My goal as an art teacher is not to give my students information they must repeat and memorize, but to present them with problems they must explore solutions to. Learning creatively must allow room for exploration and, as is oft to happen when learning new things, failure. My assessments aren't on the outcome of the work itself, but on the reflection of the process each student took to get there.
Assignments with accommodations built into their design help every student. While the structure of my class and my expectations remain set throughout the year to give my students a solid ground on which to work, the assignments themselves give students room to discuss and exposure to different viewpoints. Doing so helps in creating a classroom culture that ensures students feel safe communicating and gives me as the instructor insight into who they are as people, which I can incorporate into future lessons.
In the screenshot on the left, I've broken down a weekly Module into sections, which add visual organization and clarify what is due. There are also audio versions of both the reading and the instructions for the assignments, and all documents are written in Google Docs, so students can use speech-to-text plugins or make their own copies to use as templates and have easy access to the reference material.
Incorporating elements of UX design into each weekly module helps with the ease of use of my class for students who may have a hard time focusing, need accommodations, and for ELL students.
Once students feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with their real thoughts, questions, and interests, they start to advocate for themselves and each other. The classroom begins to feel more like a collaborative studio where we sandbox solutions to real problems and learn from one another to solve problems in our own lives.
When learning is fully online, building this community is even more crucial for students.
My goal is for students to leave my class with not only a better understanding of the content, but of how to approach problems, find solutions, understand different perspectives, and more about themselves and who they want to be.
"If it's a human principle, it's an art principle."
- Nathan Fowkes
Just because the outcome isn't being assessed doesn't mean that students won't put in effort.
The student who made this frog cake saw a video on Tiktok and wanted to try making it herself.
She emailed me and asked what she could do to smooth the frosting out, and it opened up a conversation about crumb coating, fondant, and how to set certain foods by putting them in the fridge. By addressing student needs on an individual level, students can explore their interests, broaden their understanding of the content, and discover more questions to explore in the future.