As an art educator I believe that the visual arts classroom allows students to build confidence and higher-order thinking skills through self-expression. The very nature of art is one of introspection and discovery. It is important to me to build a culture that is inclusive and allows students the outlet to express themselves, and to take risks in a safe, positive, environment. Using a student-centered approach, my role as a teacher is to help young artists build the intrinsic motivation needed to not just meet expectations, but exceed them.
Art must be used as a vehicle for communication and understanding. This includes making connections to students’ experiences, emotions, and knowledge. It is essential that young artists be guided so that they can present their ideas visually, orally, and in writing. This allows students to be reflective and analytical of their choices, and fosters the ability to be deliberate in their work. Understanding both what the goal is, and why we are trying to achieve it is critical to student development.
Students in my classroom will also discover that art is not just about making things, it is about making connections. While the term arts integration usually refers to bringing art into the core classroom to deepen understanding; I believe that bringing core subjects into the art room can also help students develop a better understanding of how ideas connect and why it is important to have a wide breadth of knowledge. These cross-curricular experiences should be cultivated through collaboration with other instructors and organically.
Art education offers a unique opportunity to tap into individual student interests using a combination of hands-on and inquiry-based learning. Of course, hands-on learning allows students to experiment with materials and techniques, creating projects that demonstrate their ability to synthesize information and communicate their viewpoint. Through inquiry-based learning, I will guide students to discover inspiring artists and formats, and, how these inspirations connect to the principles of art and design, history, and the world around them.
It is imperative that teachers model what they wish to see in their students, which is why I am committed to demonstrating the enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, creativity, and growth that I believe all students are capable of. I do not expect that every student I teach go on to be an artist. However, I am determined to help each student build their ability to think critically, make connections, and be a thoughtful, confident, communicator. The skills students develop in the art room will allow them to be successful learners throughout their lives.