January 27, 2020
This week I was given the prompt to reflect on the learning and teaching perspectives from my past, how they stand in the present, and potential applications for the future. In analyzing individual teaching styles, it is imperative that we ponder and attempt to verbalize a set of key teaching philosophies. The topics and characteristics I find important for a classroom should be integrated into my practice and future classes--so understanding what those might be and how I would like to implement them is important to my growth as an educator.
My teaching and learning perspectives in the past were pretty rigid and simple. The only knowledge of teaching I had was from what I experienced in class each day. There was a specific way for tasks to be taught, learned, and completed. It seemed very cookie-cutter, and certainly not differentiated at all. Particularly in my math class I was only allowed to solve algebraic equations one way, even though mathematics has the flexibility to solve equations in a multiplicity of approaches that can all reach the same answer. It was frustrating to not feel like an individual student, but rather just a cog in the whole machine. I believe what I experienced was meant to simplify learning, making it more straightforward, but rather complicated the process and lacked inclusion of all types of learners. My art classes were always enjoyable--never had a "bad" teacher. I valued the class environment and flexibility in interpretation. My creative courses, art and music, were the only courses that I felt truly valued the individual student. My use of a simplistic, common interpretation of a flower signifies my struggle to branch out of the rigid guidelines I experienced in school. Even though I enjoyed the content and felt I succeeded in the arts, where tasks were differentiated for me, I was still struggling to find a sense of individuality in my community.
My second piece represents my perspective in the present. Throughout my three years at CSU, I've gained a lot of information about what it means to be an educator. I was able to take many art courses that I had never experienced before, and the explorative process was really vital to establishing my sense of self and individual style. There are copious theories and studies that go into the understanding of education, no matter the age. Learning about child development and cognitive skills, in relation to art and the creative process shed a whole new light on my understanding of teaching. It is not rigid, or something you can teach from a book. It is learned through experience and the relationship you have with your students. They are all at different stages of development, learning, understanding, maturity, etc. This information was really a whirlwind for me and I felt confused but excited, nervous but ready to learn more. I created a geometric style flower to represent different approaches to be creative, or even learning for that matter. Interpretation is called such because it is individual, not rigid. The petals fit together to make a circular form representing how my new knowledge is falling into place and connecting in interesting ways I never expected. The center of the flower is folded to contain a small glimmer of tinsel material, representing the idea that I am aware of how much I have yet to learn, but I am sure it will be revealed to me as I gain more knowledge and experience.
My perspective in the future is visibly much different than the present. The flower changes into a three-dimensional form representing my new found love of sculpture. It was a completely new approach to making artwork that I became quickly enthralled by. I felt taking three-dimensional courses in college was a turning point for me where I really felt that my boundaries and options for creativity were pretty endless. It is much different than my past work, and this representation has transformed and grown from where I began. The tinsel has now been revealed and sprouts erratically from the center of the flower. This new knowledge is nurtured by the surrounding petals which represent my future students. The large leaves serve as a cradle for my class, providing a supportive environment for them to thrive and grow.
After thinking about the key elements I found influential in my education as a K-12 student and my experience as an undergrad, I compiled them into 10 key elements in my personal 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)
Going back to these standards once I enter my teaching career will be very important in establishing a community and healthy learning environment for my students. I want my students to feel that their education is in their hands. There has to be a certain level of vulnerability where my students will feel that they can try new things and fail as many times as they need to reach the goal they have set. I will be learning along the way as well, and do not want my students to think I have everything figured out...because nobody does. If I make mistakes, I am fully responsible and vice versa. Having open discussion and an inclusive environment will be vital to their success as students and my success as their guide.
For more details + documentation of my artworks created to accompany these blog posts, visit my instagram!