Boy- this semester flew by and so much was completed but I am feeling a bit behind. Fortunately, I am at home today due to the ice storm so I have some time to sit and reflect and slightly panic on all that needs to be finished. With finals week approaching, my students will need to finish up all projects, and start to take home or I need to store works of art for upcoming shows/competitions.
Now- one thing that has been reoccurring in my head is the structure, evaluation, demand, and quality that I can accomplish. I want to find more balance in my life and still be a successful art teacher, artist, mom, wife, gardener, dog mom, and community project activists.
I am the only high school art teacher in my school so the weight of teaching all the different courses and preps in the same studio is a challenge. I would love a clay studio, print/draw studio, and a painting studio with another passionate art educator to share the load. I am dreaming….I have always been pretty much my whole career: the single art teacher teaching at my level.
I am also evaluating my style or methods of teaching all the time too. The expectation of the role of an art educator in any school culture varies. The National Standards for teaching art and the expectations for AP Art weigh heavy on my full plate.
I am an experienced art educator and from all the students who have gone on to art school, tell me I prepared them well. So what am I fussing about…. EDUCATION is changing so is the methods and expectations. I am also learning more about what my graduates are doing and learning as art majors in college. It’s interesting how some programs are structured. It amazes me how much it depends on the high school program to help the art students have a good footing. That is a lot of pressure. Plus, the art schools get the advantage of a collective of similar types of artists vs my hodge-podge of students in my classes for a semester at a time. I do not have the luxury of a level skill set of students to work from and I’m not even mentioning the students motivation to be enrolled in my studio. Some are in the studio for the creative output, knowledge, skill development, etc. others are looking for a collaborative experience, and a more relaxed environment where they can produce work in a different way. It’s hard to be everything to everyone and still meet my expectations.
I am not upset but I am wondering where this all shakes out in the end for me as an art educator. Where will this lead me and where do I spend my energies? I have been reading blogs about Process VS Product and Project Based Learning, and my studio has always functioned as a mixture but I don’t have a label for what I would call it. I want students to be success, I have a role to reach all the students in my studio, and I have art skills, art history, art techniques to expose to all of my students. I allow for my students to have individual growth and choices within the lessons; while I maintain the quality of the program by coaching and motivating them. I am the instructor, coach, facilitator, mentor, and artist in the studio.
One thing I am thankful for is the art teachers who keep me motivated, informed, and supported. I know many are online and I don’t really know them personally, it makes a difference. When self doubt and motivation runs thin, it takes only a few kind words to spring me back to action.