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.

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