Original Teaching Philosophy
1 | Transformation and growth
2 | Background knowledge/resources
3 | Fluid process & interpreting
4 | Safe and open environment
5 | Willingness to fail & experiment
6 | Challenge & NO hand-holding (i.e. experiment, take risks, fail)
7 | Improve myself & analyze class response, results, & feedback
8 | Constructive criticism (inclusion of critique process)
9 | Discussion & collaboration
10 | Personal & pertinent projects (something they will WANT to keep)
Revised Teaching Philosophy
1 | Creating a safe + encouraging classroom environment
2 | Threshold to begin class (mental health check in using thumbs up, sideways, or down)
3 | Equal opportunity learning experience (accessible + scaffolded lessons)
4 | Integration of technology (google classroom, engaging tech activities, Padlet for shy students, concealed identity debates, or feedback)
5 | Growth Mindset (willingness to fail, re-try, and overcome)
6 | Collaborative projects (student choice)
7 | Flexible seating arrangements (teaches students to manage their own behavior + provides the opportunity for behavioral growth)
8 | Frequent discussion throughout + at culmination of project
9 | Vulnerability to create personal + meaningful projects (integration of various debatable topics such as mental health, social justice topics, personal narratives, etc.)
10 | Reflection + documentation of process
The changes in my teaching philosophy mainly came from the addition of new knowledge and tools in my teaching toolbox. Through my education courses this semester, especially my practicum work at Conrad Ball Middle School and knowledge gained in Technology + Assessment, I found myself overwhemed by the amount of resources and techniques that go into teaching. I believe I stayed true to my original teaching philosophies but refined them and added a new level of detail and depth. I began the year with the general idea of my teaching philosophy, but lacked the knowledge + specific tools on how to achieve it in a real life setting. Through my education courses and hands on experience I feel much closer to the ideal version of my "teaching self"--full of information, inspiration, passion and an extreme desire to teach + impact the lives of my students.
My art piece for this week is another tapestry. In this piece I chose a more muted color pallet to exude a sense of calmness + clarity. I have been in a whirlwind this past semester between abundant amounts of homework + a transition to remote learning and teaching. As I near the end of another year, I feel a sense of clarity in my teaching philosophy + extreme confidence that I have chosen the correct practice.
My teaching philosophy contains many different elements, much like my tapestry contains various weaving techniques. Up close they are more difficult to differentiate as the similar yarn hues meld together. But as you back away from the piece, the different patterns + details become visible. This is how my experience as a pre-service educator has felt up until this point. I was employing many different philosophies, tools, bits of knowledge (the list goes on) but I had trouble seeing how they all came together to make up my identity as a teacher. But now as I write reflection after reflection, that identity has become clear. The techniques meld together, not in a muddy mess, but in perfect harmony.
Through the creation of this piece I also took the time to venture out in nature. I pursued my practice in the tranquility of solitude. I've found it is very important to dedicate time to my education, but also take time to care for myself...especially in these times of high stress + uncertainty. The experience was very enjoyable + something I will dedicate time to in the future; teaching can be one of the most rewarding experiences but also the most draining so it is vital to take time for yourself + promote self care. 💕
I used to believe that teaching art varied little and when I became a teacher I would have a really difficult time coming up with individual projects. I felt I was a creative, but not an imaginative person. My elementary + middle school education consisted of cookie cutter projects that had little to no student choice. In high school this improved, but it wasn't until college that I felt my practice really blossomed. Every day I am learning to create differently + in a more loose, fluid manner. I had a very interesting experience during my practicum work at Conrad Ball Middle School that really changed my perspective on how art class affects different content areas.
I had the opportunity to be placed in a traditional art classroom, but felt the need to challenge myself + see the creative process in a new light. In Mr. Brown's classroom I was very pleased to see the integration of the design cycle in a technology class. I have found in college that sculpture is one of my passions, hence my request to be placed in a course that focuses on construction + tool exploration. I wanted to experience a classroom that may integrate art practices, but in a different light. I gained a new confidence in the flexibility of my knowledge + teaching ability by integrating myself in this different, but slightly familiar environment + being an advocate for the artistic side of engineering. For me, this reinforced the fact that the arts are incredibly transferrable to a multiplicity of content areas, therefore validating the importance + need for support of the arts as a key component in public education.
Now, I feel more eager to find what my future holds as an educator as more and more doors are opening for me. I am seeing on a wider spectrum the applicability of creativity + the potential to spread it, promote it, prompt it, etc. in content areas that people leave it behind. The arts could really benefit the creative processes in multiple areas, so I am excited to have a larger role as an advocate for the arts when I hold a teaching position. I would even be enthralled by the idea of teaching wood shop at a high school or middle school level just to see how much I could push it. As I am exploring more materials + how they can be used in different environments, I'm becoming more + more excited for the future.
My art piece this week is inspired by loose exploration of a visual reference. I am pushing myself recently to explore art in different ways that I am uncomfortable with, or feel less confident doing. In creating this drawing I tried to choose colors that were simply pleasing to me visually, versus trying to represent the landscape literally. In doing so, I felt it actually turned out more satisfying than if I had tried to replicate the colors I had found. I've found working this way has helped me become more creative in my practice, resourceful if you will. The imagery, a river, is also pertinent to my blog theme this week. I am practicing "going with the flow", being less rigid about the definition of art (because there truly isn't one) and finding beauty + art in "the everyday". I believe art is incredibly transferrable, present, and constant--an idea I would like to promote now + to the future education board at whatever school I end up teaching at.
Q: How do you look at teaching art virtually/online in the past?
A: In the past I always viewed digital teaching as a cop-out. I figured that teaching a course physically was much more difficult + required greater effort. I never opted to take online courses--and if that was the only availability I heavily avoided it. There was an occasion where I had no other option than to take one of my high school graduation requirements online--and it was incredibly stressful. Learning online can feel very chaotic, especially if there is no video instruction involved. The course I took was module based and to be completed by our own scheduling + preparation (which at that age is a LOT of responsibility on your plate, especially when you are used to the rhythm of physical instruction). I think finding a happy medium where physical + digital learning are integrated together is key--and if physical presence is not possible there are many extra tasks you have to consider as an educator.
Q: Is there any current learning experience or event that has changed how you look at teaching virtually now?
A: As I have experienced the effects of quarantine on students + educators alike, I have learned a great deal about how students learn in a digital format + how I set up my content for my students' best access. For my education coursework, I have had to transfer all of my lesson planning and delivery into an online format. Although this was frightening and stressful at first, I am very grateful to be learning these skills + tactics. Teaching remotely or online is something I had never imagined having to do, but is now something I view as an integral part of a successful education.
Q:How will I apply my current understanding/learning to my future teaching?
A:Based on my experience in quarantine, due to the rapid spread and danger of COVID-19, I've learned how to translate my materials into a digital format to deliver my practicum lessons online. I have also learned the other side of online education--putting myself in both the shoes of the educator + the student. Online learning is very stressful especially in a time of crisis, so I believe first + foremost being understanding, flexible, and empathetic is extremely important. Not only do kids have varying situations based on their history + home life, but now are experiencing the stress of uncertainty + transition to online learning. This stress translates to everyone across the board, whether you are in second grade or the position of the educator. It is stressful, scary, confusing, and above all NEW.
I have found many tools, programs, and tactics to translate lessons to an online format and would love to share them with you. Through this experience the greatest thing I have learned is that we work best when we have access to a support system + team. My colleagues have greatly influenced my transition to online as we all work through this maze together. Together we have built resources, classrooms, and content that I am incredibly proud of. The skills + resources listed are long-lasting tactics that can be used for online learning, but also in a physical classroom as we find harmony between technological learning + traditional learning methods.
For my art piece this week, I continued my exploration of weaving. This has become influential in my journaling process as I find new ways to document my exploration of teaching, learning, + artistic practices. My weaving this week is a nod to my experience in quarantine + how isolation has affected me personally. Based on my blog this week, I have reflected on the use of personal journaling (however that may look) in terms of remote learning. Finding the crossroad between technological learning + physical learning is very important. Staying in tune with both makes the transition to, or integration of, technology more useful + purposeful. Not all learning can be digital, and not all learning can be physical practice/learning. I believe in the time we are in quarantine, we can practice being inventive + resourceful. This is a skill that translates to any content area and many obstacles we face in the real world. Teaching digitally has only made me more inventive, creative, and resourceful in finding options for any type of learning situation or context!
My weaving specifically reflects on using resources available to me, finding comfort in color pallets and textures, and the humorous trends spreading on social media surrounding the 'quarantine craze'.
Throughout my artistic career I have really been inspired by my personal experiences and memories. My art teachers in high school always did a great job encouraging everyones different styles + interests. I felt I had a really great space to put my identity and experiences into my work--as a form of communication, therapy, and self-exploration. I think grade and middle school were more frustrating because teachers often reach for themed projects that are overly guided and give little choice to the student. This only stunts the creative process + ability to formulate original ideas.
The Colorado Academic Standards handbook, build by the Colorado Department of Education, contains an excerpt describing the importance of making projects personal and pertinent:
"The importance of students’ personal stories and individual expression in art making are influenced by one’s environment and communities and are reinforced in the visual art standards. References to
“multiple cultures” in the standards prompt inquiry about one’s own influences and learning about
various perspectives. Students reflect on the purposes of their own art, that of classmates, and connect their work to art history or contemporary sources. Participation in the visual arts provides agency for student artists to influence the community and transform the world around them" (Colorado Department of Education).
The knowledge I have gained in my Art Education Concepts class and studying of the state standards in my Art Education Studio only strengthens my opinion of the importance of allowing students a great amount of freedom in their project interpretations. It was one thing to experience what it feels like to create something very personal as a student; it's therapeutic, more meaningful, and easy to become very engulfed and zoned-in to the creation process. Then, to be reassured in my education classes the importance of individuality + choice in art. Not only does it make the creation process more enjoyable, but also has a positive affect on child development and the personal growth of the student in terms of creating and building their identity at that age.
Edutopia posted a great article about the many benefits of the arts in education, with this one sticking out to me:
"While many find the value of arts education to be the ways in which it impacts student learning, I feel the learning of art is itself a worthwhile endeavor. A culture without art isn’t possible. Art is at the very core of our identity as humans. I feel that the greatest gift we can give students -- and humanity -- is an understanding, appreciation, and ability to create art"(Neil Swapp).
Creating personal projects in my future classroom will be very beneficial in the comfort, growth, and empathy in our classroom environment. As students are finding themselves in this very transformative period, they will also be learning to embrace, learn, explore, and accept the identities of their peers + those they will encounter in the future. In creating personal projects--everyone benefits and my students will be growing into brilliant, compassionate, and empathetic leaders and shakers of the world.
My art piece this week is representative of my "personal + pertinent" teaching philosophy. It is important for my students to know that I, as the instructor, have tried the project. If you I am assigning them to do something--wouldn't it be a project I've done that I enjoyed or thought we be something great for others to learn and experience? I fully believe any project that I teach, I am required to try first to see if it would be successful and engaging. In this project I am also attaching the narrative behind my piece--which would be an emotional connection moment with my students. I was a high schooler at one time, and I was also the new kid!
For my weaving (continued exploration of a new material to challenge myself), I created one of my first memories in Colorado. As a freshman, experiencing a brand new school I was incredibly nervous to make friends. I moved to Fort Collins the summer before my freshman year, so I knew nobody. When I went on my school tour, I spoke with the band director Dan Berard. He connected with me about my interest in music and encouraged me to sign up for marching band + concert band. This provided me with one of the best opportunities to meet people and make friends. As I began to get to know my peers + produce amazing music as a collective group, we had more opportunities together as we grew closer. That summer I conquered my first Colorado hike at the Horsetooth Rock trail. Every time I see Horsetooth Rock, I am reminded of this great bonding experience. I would love to use this piece as an introduction to my students to help connect with them and give a little insight into my own practice, and what I will encourage in our class as far as creating projects that are personal + pertinent!
The orange yarn used is characteristic of the clay-heavy soil coloring much of Colorado's soil and rock a brilliant rusty orange. The purple yarn adds dimension to the landscape, while also depicting the temperature drop in the shade of Colorado summers. The fringe is representative of the tall grasses native to Colorado. At the culmination of the hike, we reached the top of the rock right at sunrise experiencing a brilliant Colorado sunrise full of bright oranges and floating yellow beams of light emanating from the sun (also depicted in the weaving).
Colorado Department of Education. (2020). Colorado Academic Standards: Visual
Arts. Retrieved from https://www.cde.state.co.us/coarts/2020cas-va-p12
Swapp, N. (2016, October 4). Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts
Education. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/creativity-
06 April 2020
As I am transitioning to an online format for my classes I have been thinking quite a bit about how much relationships affect my success as a student and future educator. My positive relationships with professors in college gave me the confidence to face quarantine head on with a positive attitude. The teachers that were organized, had a game plan ahead of time, and gave empathetic reassurance were the most helpful and influential at this moment in time. I have been paying attention to the teachers who feel that checking in emotionally is important, versus the teachers who do not find importance in checking in. I think this is a really valuable time for educators to evaluate themselves and think about the importance of relationships and how that is affecting their transition to online teaching.
Patrick Fahey often discussed the importance of building relationships with your students to foster a comfortable classroom community--basically the theory behind relationship building, empathy, and importance of community connections. I always wondered how my favorite teachers grew and nurtured such a warm classroom environment. It seems to fall back on this idea of empathy and importance and value of the individual. An article I read from the American Psychological Association stated, "Teachers who foster positive relationships with their students create classroom environments more conducive to learning and meet students' developmental, emotional and academic needs" (Rimm-Kauffman, Sandilos). Our success as educators falls on the back of our relationships with our students. The article also stated some wonderful do's and don'ts in improving students' relationships with teachers.
Empathy and relationships make the world go-round. If we do not have empathy, we lack in skills surrounding understanding, connection, and growth. It is a skill that I am continuing to improve everyday as I work with a variety of students from different backgrounds, experiences, and socio-economic statuses. Many things come into play whenever a student enters my classroom--and I have to be available/willing/prepared to support those students and be there for them emotionally, before I even begin thinking about teaching anything.
For my art piece this week, I have been exploring a new medium to practice being vulnerable and willing to fail. It is vital to model this style of experimental artistic behavior for my students to know that every project, every class, or any life experience may not, or does not, have to be perfect. It matters more to the success of my students to exhibit explorative behavior as their teacher versus trying to be "the expert". This shows that you are on the same level of respect. Just because I am the teacher does not mean I will always do everything right, know every answer, or be the BEST at everything. I am there to support each student's learning by valuing them as unique, brilliant, capable individuals.
Exposing this level of vulnerability in myself opens the door for students to converse about their experiences, especially "failures" or challenges (I put this in parenthesis because failure is necessary for growth--a positive word more than a negative) and view them in a positive light to open up conversations, persevere, learn and eventually grow. This skill can be applied to everyday life. We face many challenges no matter our background. Everyone has their day-to-day struggles; but my classroom will be the place where those challenges are acknowledged, discussed (if that is the support they need), and overcome. I want my classroom to be the place where students can come in with a "sigh of relief" that they have a teacher who knows them, supports them, and is going to support them in anything and everything they do--whether it has to do with my class or not.
My weaving this week (read from bottom to top) starts with a multicolor yarn. I created sporadic fringe to add an element of play and fun--just to experiment. With quarantine bumming my mood, I wanted to work with a more positive color pallet to begin with. This also represents the importance of a positive attitude and willingness to experiment and be creative.
The lowest row of basic weaving stitch (over, under) with the multicolor yarn is representative of moments of happiness and clarity connecting together. I created this design by weaving three separate rectangles together using an interlocking/hooking stitch to connect the wefts. This represents the most positive moments in my teaching/learning experience coming together to create a greater picture.
The second section, also seen on the top-most layer is woven with found materials (ripped cloth and washed dryer sheet) to represent the importance of softness in a classroom--this is where empathy comes in. Students need that comfort in their environment and that is when you start to see their individually personalities peeking through, which is represented by the multicolor thread of my warp showing between the found cloth as I wove them together.
The middle grey section is representative of those cloudy days. Sometimes you may be having an off day, a student might be struggling at home or in another class and there is this looming cloud floating in between everything else. I want to look at this piece as a reminder that all though we all have traumatic experiences, or hard days, there is always a silver lining of positive moments to balance it out. There are still happy moments of color peeking out in between the gray material from the warp yarn--there are happy moments in life even if something is bogging you down.
Finally, the leather ties at the top of my weaving and the leather material holding up my piece is representative of strength. I want my students to find strength in my classroom and their ability to come to me as a supporter.
HOW CAN ART CONTRIBUTE TO OUR SOCIETY? : INTERVIEW
C: What events/moments/experiences have refined your past perspective?
A: I have always viewed creating art as a mode of vital communication among people. It serves as a way to support specific groups of people and educate society in general. I experienced a very influential moment my sophomore year of college when I participated in the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) exhibition. I submitted two pieces that were very personal to me which pertained to my experience being a victim of rape and surviving in a society which does little to fight against rape culture. My work was accepted into the show--but with no real description of the true meaning behind the pieces. The wound was still fresh although it had happened years ago and I was not ready to share my experience with the public--but I still wanted to show my work. While I was walking around the exhibition viewing the other pieces that were accepted into the show, I stumbled upon another artist who had created work about her experience being raped. The artwork was very blatant, forward, and "out there for all to see". I was incredibly moved by her courage and strength to present her experience to the public. I instantly connected with her and told her my thoughts--and I hugged her. Art making is an amazing way to sort through trauma, but also a way to show others they are not alone. Art making is a way to build community, spread awareness, and provide support for those who need it most. My views have changed in regards to the fear of exposure--revealing the meaning and full intent of my work. I was fearful of sharing the meaning behind my work for a multiplicity of reasons, but I have since discovered that the CONNECTIONS that my experiences can build are what makes creating art worth while at all.
C: Do you make a connection between your personal historical events or experiences with the story you want to tell?
A: I absolutely do. The majority of my work is incredibly personal and pertains to different experiences and events that have occurred in my lifetime. Since starting college my work has become more blatantly personal, whereas in high school my intent was more hidden. My experiences are what make me most inspired and passionate to increase the volume of my artistic voice.
C: How do you utilize art to represent change?
A: Through my personal experiences, and studying the importance of social justice lessons in college--art is, in my opinion, one of the most impactful ways to promote change. In a previous blog post, I referenced a sculpture collection I created to spread awareness about the experiences of a person with anxiety and the effects of holistic versus medicated treatment approaches. Society views art as a pleasant viewing past-time. But creating artwork that has deeper meaning and promotes some kind of story or change is a clever way of forcing society to think about the way we live, how we treat one another and and how we treat ourselves.
C: How do these experiences influence your path of being an artist, and becoming an educator?
A: These experiences have strengthened my core values as an artist and a human being. I think being compassionate and empathetic towards other adults, and especially your students is vital in creating a safe classroom environment and more understanding + kind society. When I am an educator I will always encourage my students to create work that is personal and pertinent. In a previous art education course, my professor stressed the importance of projects following this idea--making work that means something to you and has some kind of purpose in the world. Beyond this, I always found making my work personal was a mode of coping, healing, and sorting through the events I experienced as a young adult. I think it is important to acknowledge art as a professional way of working as well as a way for individuals to find a sense of peace and freedom.
For my artwork this week I have included the two pieces I referenced which were exhibited in the CURC 2018 show. I am also including the collection which won an honorable mention for the art category of CURC 2019. There is an exponential amount of growth between the two entries as I gained confidence in my artistic voice and my role as an activist in society. Although I had the courage to put my physical artwork out there in 2018, I did not have the strength or confidence to promote my experience. In 2019, I participated in a CSU study for young adults experiencing anxiety and/or depression to test holistic approaches to healing. Through this experience I was inspired to create work that gave a voice to the voiceless, and a voice for myself as a person who has anxiety. My collection was awarded an honorable mention in the 2019 CSU CURC exhibition--and an individual piece from the collection, "Anxiety Trip(Tych)", was featured in the 2019 issue of Cicada Creative Magazine. I think in this world and especially as an educator it is important to be transparent, honest, and open. In the future I hope my students look at this work and feel strength and validation of their own identities, experiences, etc. in order to learn, grow, and develop their artistic voice and contribute kindness, empathy, and strength to our society.
I have since created an art instagram, December 2019, as well which included the 2018 art pieces--with their true artist statements and messages of intent. As today is National Women's Day, I commend the strength of all people who have been victims of assault and rape crimes. It is truly a horrible crime that should be paid more attention to by our legal system. I stand with you and fully validate your voice and experience.
This past week I have been thinking a lot about the importance of the critique process for artists, both at the high school level and college. I read an excerpt from Talking about Student Art by Terry Barrett, which discussed the difference between what a critique looks like for elementary, middle, and high school level versus college critique processes/practices. The author mentioned how anyone who has taken college-level art courses has been affected by their studio critiques in one way or another, including both positive and negative experiences.
I certainly remember being very afraid of the critique process when I began college. I had done critiques before in my high school AP Studio Art course, but it was usually done on paper versus a verbal critique. In high school we would have our work displayed on tables so that we could walk freely through the room and provide guided feedback for each individual. It was not anonymous, but it was a bit easier to provide honest feedback behind a pencil. However, I felt I had not learned enough about visual literacy and really giving useful feedback yet. There was a lot of, "I like this...I like that" discussion happening across the board. Perhaps a, "Consider cleaning up this line, or change this color" would be thrown in here and there, but overall the feedback was pretty positive.
When I sat down in a semicircle in front of our pinned projects in college, it took a long time for people to get comfortable. I did not know any of these people--which in the end helped me critique their work from a less bias stand. So in the end I suppose that aspect was good, but in high school it is really hard not to be bias--one way or another because you have known those people for so long. But because we did not know one another, our critiques began the same as I had experienced in high school.
It was very frustrating to me in my introductory courses anytime I had a teacher that wasn't harsh. I felt like there was no growth or opportunity to grow when I knew she would just "always like it". The worst was expecting my teacher to be less vocal in critique, and then receiving a docked score! Feedback is so incredibly vital in being a successful artist. I remember in my first three-dimensional study course I had the most specific, hard-pushing professor. Some projects it brought me to tears, as I did not know how to improve what he wanted me to. But as I have continued through college those experiences have strengthened my understanding of visual communication and how important it is to have a purpose behind what you create. I had another professor who prohibited us from using the sentence-starter, "I like..." because using that statement is usually pretty subjective to begin with. You can always back it up with a reason, and that gives it more purpose. But knowing the proper ways to discuss artwork, in the most useful and professional way is something really important to me.
All in all, I have realized that the critique process is something that gets brushed under the rug quite often. Even in college there are art students who do not contribute, do not share, do not critique, or even criticize! It is one of my biggest pet peeves, and many of my colleagues share the same, when you cannot get one ounce of useful feedback about your work. Critique is how we grow and how we as creators know we have communicated our message. Nothing is more rewarding to me than sparking a conversation with my work--but I would have never achieved that kind of satisfaction had I not been through those tough critiques and been forced to think about the big W-H-Y.
From my past experiences in high school, to current experiences in college, and future visions for my classroom surrounding critique I have begun to compile a list of standards, goals, etc. Shifting my perspective from "professor mode" to "high school teacher" is something I have already discovered I will have to work on. The age group is more tender, and the discussion process shifts in ways, but the end goal remains the same--help students improve their art making abilities.
Here is the list I have begun of ways I would like to structure my future classroom in regards to artwork critique:
1. Use appropriate language
Be aware of your tone, the way you phrase suggestions, and the usefulness of your comments.
2. Get up close to the work
Analyze the work the way it would be viewed in a gallery setting; sitting far away provides less information and is unrealistic to the legitimate art world.
3. Avoid using "I like..."
Explore the work more deeply & consider details the artist could improve, what their message is, why the details you like appeal to you, etc. It is most vital to always back up your feedback with proper reasoning and explanation.
4. Know when to separate your personal interpretations and when to include them
The artwork may spark a memory or experience for you personally, and if that information might contribute to the artists' meaning...share it! Or if your personal connection was part of the artists' intention to evoke something in their audience...share it! But using statements like: "This piece really reminds me of jumping on my trampoline as a kid. That was a fun time." strive to give more information; why does it evoke this memory? Why does the piece exude a sense of "fun"?
And in conclusion...
5. Strive to think deeper
For my artwork this week I chose to reflect on my interpretations of visual language in high school versus what I believe it is now/growing towards the future. I have discovered ways to make my work more interesting, giving it more purpose, meaning, and depth. These images represent an exercise of sorts to see how the artist or designer can grow from critique and improve their work.
The first image is very blatant, forward, less intriguing in my opinion. The eyes are clearly distinguishable and hold the audience for much less time than the second drawing. The message is written out, as to make sure the audience doesn't miss it. It is a "one and done" kind of viewing experience.
The second piece however requires more exploring to receive the message. The subject matter is less distinguishable until you back up. When the viewer gets closer to the work it can be discovered that the image is "drawn" using text, "Open your eyes" it says. More information is gained from the extension of attention and exploration of detail.
I strive in the future to push my students to put more "easter eggs" in their work. Add details for the audience to explore, question, discover, unlock, etc. Your work can become much more complex just by simple details that present your concept in a different light.
This week I've been thinking a lot about what I have learned thus far to become a teacher and how that information is going to help me in the future. I was talking to one of my colleagues whom I was placed at my middle school with about the types of situations we have encountered so far. There have been multiple occasions where we felt very lost and unsure of what to do. Our school is a low income high risk area so many if not most of the kids have experienced/are experiencing a lot of trauma. When the students have opened up to us about certain challenges they are facing or have faced it is difficult to know what to say or do.
As I reflect on my experiences with emotional advice or coping I have seen significant change as I've aged. The stakes have become much higher now, and saying the right thing becomes much more vital than when you are giving a friend advice in high school. I used to live off of helping my friends and getting them through hard situations, so I felt prepared. But once I faced the actual situation in the position of a teacher, I nearly froze... and fumbled my way through the conversation. I ended up helping the student but felt as if I was extremely unprepared to know what to say in that kind of conversation. Could I have helped more? Did I address the situation properly? Was my advice the best I could give?
As my colleague and I had this conversation we came to the conclusion that having emotional wellness education would be almost more helpful than extensive homework and information on lesson planning. Some things come more naturally than others, and especially for those who have a passion for teaching--we have a pretty good basis of what to do when it comes to creating lessons. But if we are going to really connect with our students and have a classroom that is safe, I think educating teachers on proper emotional counseling skills, what to do when a student is in "crisis", and just being an advocate for safe and proper mental health care practices is vital. I have learned in my education courses that the interpersonal connections you make with your students are what make your lessons most successful, purposeful, and pertinent. If we can't connect to our students and make them feel heard and safe, what is the point of having a six-page lesson plan? What they have happening outside of school, or even my classroom, is going to be a huge factor in the success of my lessons and whether or not the students are engaged. I believe knowing how to deal with those kind of situations is something I must learn before I ever even entertain the thought of having my own classroom.
For my art piece this week I chose to reflect on a collection I created in college versus a drawing I created in high school. As I have learned about art and communicating a narrative I believe my art has improved significantly. The first drawing from high school was meant to exude a sense of sympathy and sadness for the figure depicted. My goal was to “depict beauty in ugly moments”. I remember my instructor giving me feedback about not being able to see the “ugly side” I was talking about. I still liked the piece in the end but my purpose of creating it was not significantly fulfilled.
later on in college I received an assignment to creat a body of work using 8 different but conducive sculptures to depict a specific narrative of my choosing. I decided to focus on an article about anxiety and depression in young adults. I had participated in a CSU study for the matter, and was feeling particularly moved to create some kind of work about my discoveries. Through thorough planning and careful execution I was able to tie my narrative together and receive mostly accurate feedback from my audience during critique. I also entered the pieces in the CURC exhibition and was awarded the second place honorable mention for the arts category. Having your message heard is very important and I finally felt like I was “figuring it out” in terms of making my visual language understood. In terms of my future vision, I see this discovery to be an important part of communicating about mental health and emotional wellness with my students. An activity like this could show them I care and open their minds about how they might express their experiences through their artwork or verbally if needed. I think art is a great outlet for populations like I’ve been working with as they often need somewhere to just unload their shoulders. I felt that when I was in high school and did not quite understand how to do it successfully until college. Providing an outlet for conversation through social issue projects is a great way to start breaking down those emotional barriers they might have, in a more gentle way.
This week I selected and interviewed two of my students out of a technology class I am observing. I created a list of questions to ask them that I thought would be insightful and give me a little more information about their personalities and educational needs.
1. Where are you from?
2. Who is your favorite teacher and/or class and why?
3. If you could choose to do anything for a day, instead of school, what would it be?
4. What is something that helps you learn or makes learning more enjoyable for you?
5. What is something you think I should know? Or you want me to know?
6. What do you want to do once you graduate?
1. From [void].
2. Current favorite class is band. I really enjoy playing an instrument. I play a euphonium.
3. Stay home, eat sushi and donuts, and play games with my brother all day.
4. The only reason why people say I'm so smart is because I'm a fast learner.
5. I'm definitely not a regular girl. You know those girls that are like, "ew?!"--they're so annoying. I'm honestly more of a gamer person, as soon as I get home I'm on the computer.
6. I was thinking...I had an idea. We took a quiz at school last year and it had a possibility of what we could be, and I had an idea to begin with before we took the test. I was thinking I could be an astronomer. I have a sister who is studying right now to be a doctor. I've always liked space a lot.
1. From [void].
2. Probably Miss [void], for ELA--a language arts class. I like that class because she makes us sit wherever we want, as long as we work and brings snacks. And we do fun things in there. Tomorrow we are going to play games if we get our work done.
3. Get out of town. I would probably go to Mexico or New York. Mexico because I haven't been there, and my grandma and grandpa are over there; and New York because I want to see big towers.
4. Talking with a group and doing experiments. In this class, I wish we would make things...starting to make things. I don't like these, making paper airplanes. You have to do lots of research on them--like you have to do "does it fly good or not, make the sizes"...I don't like that. It's boring. I would rather start making things, but then we have to make a bunch of research. The things he wants us to do are boring. I get that, when we started making the rules... I'm fine with that. But then it started getting boring. We don't get to use the tools.
5. Like I said, it's just boring. We barely get to do nothing. It's just paper, instead of using the tools.
6. I want to get a job. My mom said that when I was little I wanted to be a doctor...and I might.
| Conclusion |
There were many things that stood out to me about these interviews but I think two of the most important concerns were a) learning styles and b) purposeful activities. I am sure it's difficult to get to know every single student on a deeply personal level, but it's necessary to at least gather information about their learning styles so you can accommodate properly alongside what they are interested in and how much you should challenge them. If these kids are planning on growing up to be astrologers and doctors, they want more of a challenge. They know when the project is useful to them, and when it isn't. Some classes, sure they won't be interested right off the bat because it just "isn't their thing". That's why making every lesson tailored to spark their interest in some way is really important! When it came down to S2's frustration about the current project, I felt partially at a loss due to material funds. I'm pretty sure we choose more material simple projects because our availability and access is low--however I don't believe that's an excuse for boring projects! Based on these kids and their interests, I think there could be a greater complexity for the projects. When S1 said, "People think I'm smart because I'm a fast learner", what happens when you aren't? What happens when she isn't? I've seen it. The teacher became incredibly frustrated and thought she was acting out, when in fact it was because she is a perfectionist (Reference my last blog post). You've GOT to know your kids and know their learning styles or they will be drowning or bored in .05 seconds, and just making it easy is not your only option. With explanatory demonstrations, specific instructions, and encouragement to ask the teacher or their peers questions...there is so much room for incredible growth in these smart and capable kids. We really need to leave more room for conversation.
For this week's art project, I decided to do a self portrait. The use of black and white ink is representative of the structure of the public education system, seeing learning in a "black and white manner" or "one size fits all". The use of geometric shapes and lines push the boundary of standardized learning, yet remain trapped by a border of chaotic red lines. I see the struggle in my students to gain more from their educational experiences, yet there is no outlet or opportunity for their voices to be heard.
Last week, I was working with a student individually as she was having trouble making headway on the current project. In a previous class session she was incredibly distressed with the proposed assignment; to say the least, she seemed bored out of her mind. She did not see the purpose behind the assignment and to be honest, neither did I. It was not my classroom, so the projects are out of my hands. What do you do at this point? I figured if I couldn't control the assignment, I might as well see why she wasn't making any headway and try to push forward.
As I sat down and started working with her, I noticed she became easily frustrated with the folding process (The assignment was "building" paper airplanes). Each student was given a packet of instructions on multiple plane designs, photocopied from a book. The book had apparently come with paper that had printed and labeled guidelines for the folds--clearly their recycled printer paper had none. So here, we faced the first problem: resources and proper demonstrations of the project. I have noticed a lot of my kids struggle simply because they do not understand how to complete the assignment, ugh! The instructions were so complex I could hardly understand them. As we worked through it together, she gained confidence in her choices even challenging my interpretation. I noticed she indeed came up with her own approaches to folding a multiplicity of designs--in ways that worked and were applicable for her final designs. Here is problem #2: what the student was really struggling with was a lack of confidence and encouragement. With every 'not perfect' fold she instantly gave up--throwing her hands in the air in frustration. I told her, "This is just practice, not your final design! Don't get frustrated, right now we can make mistakes and figure it out together". Right after I said this, not even kidding, she swiftly folded an entire design, without looking at the instructions. I said to her, "That looks great! Why don't you move onto your 'final building paper'?" only to hear in timid response, "Well... I think I need to practice it a couple more times before my final one". I knew that she knew how to do it so I said, "I think you are ready. You folded that without even looking at your guide!" Just me telling her that I believed in her ability to successfully fold her final plane was all it took. My kids come from a variety of households, but many are at risk. They may not get this encouragement at home--or they might have a diagnosis from previous trauma that requires extra attention. I retrieved the paper and she instantly kicked into gear and made the best "slice" airplane I'd seen in the class. Just sitting down with her and doing these things was about all it took.
I saw myself in this student, becoming very hyper aware of her mistakes. "One fold wrong, the world is over. I will never make this plane again!" Learning can be so frustrating; and even MORE frustrating when you are a perfectionist. The teacher was urging her to finish up quickly--she couldn't work at her own pace and the assignment wasn't differentiated for her at all. Problem #3: understanding, empathy, scaffolding. So how do we deal with this situation, when we are teaching or performing? The content area doesn't even matter. You can be playing football, making art, or rolling up a burrito. As a teacher, for this student it was very vital that he gave a clear demonstration of the expectations and guidelines for the assignment, encouraged his kids by checking in with them and giving them attention when needed, and the BIGGEST issue was that he needed to differentiate the assignment for the multiplicity of students with IEPs. These include but are not limited to:
As a teacher, it is being hyper aware of these things and really knowing your students and what they need. The world is an imperfect place, so how do we learn to cope with perfectionism? When working with perfectionists (however that may look) what advice might we as teachers give?
1. KNOW WHEN TO STOP & TAKE A BREAK
This is a tough one. Sometimes when you are working on a new skill or even practicing something you have done before it can feel like, "I need to work at this until I have reached my goal for today". You may have intended on perfecting your a-minor scale on the clarinet that day, but you practiced for so long that you are out of breath and making more mistakes than when you started. Art (or anything) can be the same way--sometimes you need to take a break, walk away, and come back with fresh eyes. Allowing yourself to rejuvenate and try again later is important in not becoming frustrated.
2. FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT
In school, teachers instruct in many ways. Some will always give you meaningful assignments that will push you to learn and grow. Other teachers might just assign "busy work" that has no obvious purpose. As a perfectionist, I faced so much busy work in high school. I was adamant about doing everything THE BEST. But because of having a mixture of good and bad teachers, I found myself wasting time on things that didn't matter to me and losing time on things that did. This is some real life talk--some teachers might disagree with me on this. But I believe, as long as you give the effort required and get it done...you are allowed to choose where you put your energy. A teacher can't expect you to complete an assignment like it is *the most important thing in the world*, if THEY don't assign it with a purpose to help you grow. Find a balance where you are not slacking off, but you are saying "yes" to the things that have the most purpose in your life.
3. YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST CRITIC, GET A SECOND OPINION
Feedback is so important. I plan on integrating critique processes into my future classroom for every project. Talking and providing feedback is an important life skill beyond the classroom. I always want my art to have meaning to me and be perfect--and when I don't see that I can become frustrated. The beautiful thing about art is that nobody will see it exactly how we do. Everyone has their own narratives and opinions that they bring to the table. I have found that the best art I make, is art that starts a conversation. If you begin to feel down on what you are working on, ask around. See what other people think. Do they think it is successful? (Maybe you've been staring at it too long and need to refer to tip #1) Or do they see something that could be improved? Remember that art is very subjective--so get opinions and don't be too hard on yourself.
4. KEEP YOUR WORK AS A REMINDER OF GROWTH
As I have had to refer to old pieces I've made, and through creating my instagram I noticed how much my art has changed and how I have grown. It is important to reflect on where you started in order to boost your confidence, create new goals, and find optimism and growth in failure. Where there is failure, there is room for success.
For my art piece this week I chose to do a blind contour drawing. In high school, my art teacher stressed how these exercises connect the hands to the mind and eyes--forcing you to draw and feel exactly what you see. They hardly ever turn out perfect, so it was always a very anxious process for me. I wanted mine to look G-O-O-D. But if anyone ended up with a "perfect" blind contour, they looked at their paper...and they cheated. I think this is a really great exercise to shut off the "perfectionist voice" in your head and allow your hands to be the artists they are.
For more details + documentation of my artworks created to accompany these blog posts, visit my instagram!