I am a work in progress and feeling like a tender to the heART of an artist.

16 01 2015

I’ve been feeling like I am a heART practitioner for the past several months. I say that because I feel I am in a phase where I am maintaining my young artists HeARTs…NO that is NOT it, maintaining is too weak, I’ve been fighting for my HeARTS to keep it vibrant, healthy, creating greater accessibility, and implementing a stronger connection to self expression.

Works in progressWorks in progress10000

I finally had my art courses reflect what I actually do and it will make TAB a realization. I have been transitioning to TAB for a while now. I have always been a modified TAB teacher, before I knew it had a label. I have always thought of myself as student centered teacher. I meet my students where they start and strive to push them to new levels.

Yes- there is some fundamental differences in DBAE and TAB. I was trained in DBAE and I feel many aspects of this method are still valuable in the exchange of learning about artists and art history but how students implement ideas, concepts, and materials is different. The past several months have been challenging but I have always faced challenges head on. I am sure many of you who are art educators know as art educators we are always on the battlefield striving to improve our programs, find ways to fund our curriculum, and to justify why art counts. So after 25 years of teaching art in a variety of settings, I feel my challenge was worth the fight. All I wanted was to have my art courses, which are all elective courses, be arranged so all students in a specific course, all had the same class period. Let me explain… I wanted my Drawing class to consist of all levels of students in the same period. I wanted to do away with Drawing and Drawing II and having limitations on my serious art students from being able to enroll in advanced levels in a course. You see I am the only high school art teacher and I have a limit to how many classes I can teach in a day- surprise! This left no opportunity to offer a secondary level in most of my courses. So I would get my Printmaking students all excited about creating prints and then the semester ended, sorry, no more classes to support any more Printmaking! I had students requesting a secondary level of several of my courses and I could not do it. It was apparent to me that I needed to explore a creative way to support what my students wanted and needed. Since I was already working in a TAB format with my classes with differentiated processes, media, and advanced students pocketed in my “first level” course, why not just do that and make it formal? Publish what I am already doing and open up the opportunity for my artists to pursue a secondary level in a discipline with curriculum that I have prepared. Now- all of my Drawing students will be in the same period and I will scaffold the beginning level artists with lessons, techniques, and support along side advanced drawing students who will get advanced lessons on techniques, materials, etc. The idea and concepts will be a similar theme but the materials, size, and interpretations of the themes will vary. Targets and criteria for assessments will be published for students to achieve. All students will participate in working and final critiques so we have a variety of sources in the studio to propel student artists to achieve to a higher degree of understanding and completion. Yes!!! A real working artist studio where an entry-level artist will sit next to an advanced artist and both will benefit. The students will make daily observations of how each other sets up their working space, how they begin to work out a composition, how they may use a particular media in a unique way. All the subtleties we often forget or overlook due to our focus on a bigger idea. Students can learn from other students and be inspired by other artists in the studio. My students will be able to advance in a discipline of their choice. Of course all electives and graduation requirements will still apply and cause my students to be unable to track so perfectly, but now they can enroll in a visual arts course without the stress of having already exhausted the course and have no other opportunity to have a visual arts course. I feel very blessed to have a strong art program with students who want to take art to advanced their ideas and improve their artistic skills. NO- I am not an art school and I do have students who just love art or just love what an art class offers in kinetic movement and the opportunity to work in a visual studio to express them self in a different way. Art is for everyone and everyone needs a creative outlet.

So the rest of this school year, I feel my studio is my own little lab setting and a place for me to try out best practice on a multi-level TAB format. I have my Drawing students all in the same course at the same time. It is working out great and everyone is working together. The work is in the very early stages but I am pleased with the communication and thought process that is playing out in the student’s compositions.

Ivy working

It is great to be able to find new discoveries and challenges for me, the educator, after all these years; I am still a work in progress too. I wouldn’t want it any other way.


We are starting this semester right!

9 01 2015

I have been on a journey to transition to a choice based studio and adopting TAB.  I have been doing my research and setting up curriculum for how I can successfully transition.  I am a student centered art educator so this isn’t a difficult change, but to fully make the change, it requires a global change in the scheduling process.  This required that I educate others on the philosophy of TAB and choice based studio learning and how can it be done in our school environment.  Well, I pursued and presented, discussed and wrote down the idea for me to chart out a plan.  I have been plugging along this school year and over the Christmas break to prepare for the possibility of the change.  I returned to school to begin the new semester with the traditional track for my courses…well I was surprised to learn that a scheduling issue resulted in the outcome in one of my courses exactly the way I have been trying to achieve through my careful planning and presenting.

My journey begins NOW!  It is my Drawing course and it consists of students of all grades and from two levels of Drawing experiences.  Most are Drawing I students with a prerequisite of Foundations of Art and a smaller group of students with Drawing I behind them and entering this semester as a Drawing II student.  I originally had two different drawing assignments planned because I thought I was teaching two separate classes, but now they are in one class at the same time.

I am not concerned…it is my objective to create a lesson to use as a warm up and review, with built in assessments to check on students understanding and skill sets.  So I selected the lesson, I felt would be the best project to engage and support the students enrolled this semester.  I created and published two different target expectations for each level.  I am supporting each level with smaller demos and technique skill building lessons within the progress of the project.  Right, now we are in the early stages of concept building and exploration of materials so our whole group discussions are helpful.  I let the students sit where the students feel they have the best space to work and with whom they can accomplish the best work.  The discussions at the student’s tables are helpful and encouraging without a hierarchy between the two levels.

At times, my more advanced students are leading during discussions and the less experienced students are working through ideas encouraged by the experienced artists ideas.  Then at times my Drawing I students spur on others with inventive ways at approaching an idea with they’re outside the box ideas.  It is a great dynamic and I am predicting that all the students’ works will exceed my expectations and some of my student’s skills will accelerate faster than planned.  “Win Win for all.”

I am trying to maintain documenting the progress and take note of the subtle changes I am doing to challenge and support my students.  This is the ultimate differentiated learning experience and placing the learning on the students.  I’m finding I’m spending more time pushing students to articulate why and what do they want to achieve, than telling them what needs to happen.  Our working critiques seem to have more students engaged and the discussions seem to stir more artistic decision-making.

This is all going on while I am still pursuing all other ways to advance the learning process for all of my courses.  Luckily for us, we do have a new place in town with an exciting Maker Space.  I am approaching the director about how this place can be a used for our visual art courses.  This will be another great opportunity for my students to get their hands on designing ideas with new technology that I will never be able to afford in my school studio.

As usual we are gearing up for Curbside Couture, State Art Shows, and many more opportunities to share our talents with others. I am working hard to stay relevant and document the progress to share will all of you.  I am finding myself forgetting to take photos because the studio time is so much fun and I am often caught up in the progress.  I never feel my photographs really tell the whole story anyways, but I know we are visual learners so having photos to share is helpful, so I am making an effort to get this done.  I hope my next posting will be able to share the results of the lesson theme created for each course.  Sorry, I do not have photos to share on this course as of the publishing of this post.

I hope you all are having a great start after a restful Christmas break.

%d bloggers like this: