As an artist and educator I value the importance of an arts education. My objectives as an educator are to create an environment in which creative expression and risk is encouraged and to facilitate constructive critiques that foster learning and growth. I push my students to be productive artists and citizens, thinking outside the box and taking the initiative.
As an educator in both the high school and university levels I’ve learned that it is important to build a good rapport with my students. When students trust and respect you they will work for you, be honest with you and also provide feedback. Music is a part of my studio because it usually loosens students up and they can focus on their work, and in some of my most enjoyable college classes I remember music being played. It also starts conversations both with each other and me.
Components of my practice as an instructor include demonstrations, powerpoint presentations, videos, print handouts, museum and gallery visits, and reading. Every student learns differently and their needs change as they evolve as artists so it’s important to use a variety of methods in teaching and learning. Providing a variety of techniques and opportunities for learning ensures success and growth which allows for creative expression. While teaching at the university level I learned that even at that level students thrived through in-class demonstrations and asked for it. When students are given the opportunity to grow and learn in a variety of ways, they become more comfortable in expressing themselves and taking risks in their work. Risk taking happens when they are exposed to variety and encouraged to express themselves.
Critiques are a very important part of the art studio. Students need to be able to verbally express themselves and defend the choices they have made. In my classes we have a variety of critiques including individual, group and silent critiques. They are never used to embarrass a student but to facilitate learning and feedback. Students are usually nervous about them at first but they eventually learn to use them as a tool, especially when they have hit an impasse. Each project requires a half-way critique which gives them the opportunity to get feedback and use that to improve their work before turning in the final. Each class I walk around and talk to each student individually about their current project so they feel comfortable talking to me and are thinking about their choices while they work, instead of just cranking something out. Silent critiques are a good way to mix things up. Some students are much more capable of articulating themselves with a written critique rather than verbal, so silent critiques give those students an opportunity to write down their thoughts. And it is a different way of receiving information which can be beneficial to students. I have been in several critiques as a student where I left them even more confused so my goal is to facilitate constructive critiques so that students continue to grow as artists.
There are so many more strategies I could talk about but the two above are the ones that I feel are most important in an art studio: creating an environment where creativity and risk-taking can thrive, and facilitating constructive critiques.