My artistic practice is an essential part of who I am as an artist-educator. My classroom instruction is directly informed by my experience in the studio and I believe this experience as a practicing artist is absolutely vital to the role of an arts educator. An important aspect of the creative process is the exploration of ideas and I find that my own interests constantly weave themselves into my teaching, as do the interests and ideas of my students. This process of exploration allows me to continually learn alongside my students as they develop their own artistic practice, which is one of the reasons I love working in the classroom.
My classroom is a student-centered environment where students are actively engaged in their own learning experiences. My role is to facilitate those experiences by allowing opportunities for students to interact with and manipulate materials and ideas in meaningful ways. The arts can be a great connector, building bridges between student learning in a variety of subjects. They can also be a powerful conduit for social change and self expression. In all of my instruction, I attempt to package key concepts and enduring ideas into engaging lessons that help students develop conceptually as well as technically. I emphasize multicultural and global perspectives throughout my curriculum. Students are exposed to arts and cultures from around the world, including and especially those that have been underrepresented in traditional art history cannons. Additionally, I frequently integrate technology into my instruction and provide opportunities for students to utilize it both as a supporting resource and as a medium they can use to produce their own content.
At the core of my teaching is the belief that all individuals are inherently creative. The arts are and should be accessible to all. Another guiding conviction is that all children can succeed. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to meet the diverse needs of every student in my classroom by accommodating and modifying for various learning styles, developmental levels, English language learners and for students with disabilities. The arts provide an opportunity to enrich the lives of all students, including those with mental or physical challenges. Additionally, I favor a proactive behavior management strategy with an emphasis on positive reinforcement. I strive to create a safe, supportive learning environment by building positive relationships with students and emphasizing mutual respect.
The benefits of the arts in education have been widely researched and documented. Artistic practice can strengthen critical thinking processes and enhance problem-solving abilities, communication and inventiveness. The arts allow students to express deep personal meaning and to explore consequential ideas. Students also develop an appreciation of diversity in both culture and perspective. In a world where technological and economic landscapes seem to be continually shifting, art and design play a major roll in stimulating innovation. We are increasingly immersed in information. The arts offer a way of building comprehension and understanding out of this oversaturation of data and media. They can help us to collaborate, manipulate, organize and create. As such, I believe the arts should be included with science, technology, engineering and math to move from STEM to STEAM. A strong foundation in the arts can greatly benefit each student, regardless of the career path they might choose to follow in the future. As an arts educator, I aim to provide my students with more than just a cursory experience in the studio; I believe that the arts can help provide skills that will better equip the next generation in solving the complex problems our world currently faces.