The past year has seen many changes for all art teachers. Cleaning protocols, schedule adjustments, and daily educational adjustments are just the beginning. Many of these challenges are challenges that not many teachers want to talk about again! On the one hand, however, this year of change has allowed new strategies and practices to be invented in the trenches of our classrooms. A lot of good came out this year!
Ten art teachers contemplate unexpected challenges that have created opportunities to rethink art education practices.
As you read the ideas below, see which ones resonate with you, and think about your own practices. What unexpected challenges forced you to think in new ways? What new practices or procedures will you continue to use as you move forward?
1. Create individual studio spaces to help students feel like artists.
Independent student workspaces, whether they are socially distant at school or isolated at home, are a challenge. However, according to Kathryn Davis Hayes, an elementary schoolteacher in Warwick, Rhode Island, they also have some gains. These spaces provide students with a place they call their own, such as the artist’s studio. In a single space, students can make independent choices using materials and technologies. With the rules of social distancing fading, continuing to give students a place they call theirs is an effective interaction tool.
2. Try walking through a plexiglass gallery to make the most of the dividers.
Some classrooms have glass dividers to divide the tables. Katie Borshaw, A pre-kindergarten through second grade teacher in Danville, Indiana, clips of finished artwork into dividers for a walk-in gallery at the end of class. Consider using dividers as a stand, brainstorming boards with dry erase markers, display surfaces, or a place to mount moving sculptures. When these breaks aren’t necessary, you might decide to stick to some to keep building and sharing!
3. Showcase digital art as you talk about careers.
Take advantage of having all of your students on a digital device! Connecting in vector and bitmap drawing teaches transferable professional skills and allows students to create artworks at home without owning or accessing traditional art-making supplies. For example, Terry Stewart, a Kindergarten through 12th grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio, all students use iPads to explore 3D models.
4. Build a database of timeless video resources for future chapters.
Create short video presentations for your students about artists, techniques, and class expectations to consistently include in multiple lessons, for both additional classes and in the coming years. Courtney Jones, A K-5 teacher in Lejeune, North Carolina, loves how pre-recorded introductions give her extra time to clean up from the last class!
5. Provide pre-recorded videos for students to work at their own pace.
We’ve all heard this repeated statement in the last year, “Disconnect my WIFI. Did you miss anything?Just like the previous advice, record short videos for students to refer to if they need to refresh information about a particular process – or if they miss content due to a poor internet connection. Pillar Piller, A high school teacher in Reno, Nevada, allows students to work through videos at their own pace. These clips also provide time to help the class as a whole.
6. Record reflections to allow all students to participate verbally.
Without diamonds, An elementary teacher in San Diego, California, had his students use the microphone tool in swing To record the reflections of inspiration, process, and final piece of art. There is often not enough time in the study period to listen to every student. This tool allows you to hear the opinions of all students! When the classroom is no longer default, consider creating a recording station in your classroom to continue this practice.
7. Plan virtual field trips to introduce students to new experiences.
Students love field trips! Virtual field trips are a way to continue this activity safely. It also opens up opportunities to “visit” museums and “tours” studios all over the country and the world! Sean Gretzmacher, a high school teacher, brought in the influences of the artists who worked on it Crowded place Almost from Australia to his classroom in White Bear Lake, MN! Virtual field trips also give all students with an internet and device access to these experiences, and they are often free. Students can also ask questions that they may never have been brave enough to ask in person.
8. Maintain a permanent record of requests and observations.
Art Teachers Kylie Hagerty, Liberty High School, Pennsylvania Google Classroom To manage all tasks and communicate. Google Classroom, or other learning management systems, provides a permanent record of all data. All student submissions are timestamped, as are all teacher announcements and deadlines. You can quickly write a comment with specific notes and post it to the corresponding assignment. No need to worry about the handwriting being legible or the sticky note or standard dropping! All communications with questions, responses, and comments for future conferences and references are archived.
9. Maximize educational time with digital alternative plans and absenteeism.
Include short recordings in presentations for slideshows of off-days, alternate teachers, or absentee student cosmetic work. Christopher Morris, A primary teacher in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, found this relieves stress from both teacher and students – the teacher has a “backup”, and students increase access.
10. Incorporating real-world issues to foster participation and critical thinking.
Art Teachers Spending less time in class with students, in addition to virtual teaching, makes focusing on technical competence in making art more difficult. Shifting the focus from competency of skills to issues of social justice will positively affect the curriculum. More students interact with the relevant topic, and are prompted to think more critically. When dealing with challenging real-world problems, Chelsea Deepman, An elementary teacher in Marion, Ohio, has discovered the importance of slowing down and making time for self-care through gratitude journaling and long walks to be fully present to her students.
Art Teachers Despite all the changes and turmoil that occurred in the past school year, these 10 art teachers have found ways to flourish and grow in their practice. From changing perspectives on what a studio space should look like to the use of plexiglass dividers, we’ve discovered that physical classrooms aren’t what defines our art rooms. Leveraging technology to record lessons makes it accessible to students at their own pace, whether in the current school year or in the coming years. Overcoming the difficulties of distributing supplies and media by integrating digital art and social justice issues can broaden our knowledge as educators. When we adjust our stance, we can embrace challenges as opportunities!
As you reflect on the past year, what has been one challenge that you have turned into a positive opportunity?
What is one strategy you have used this year that you are sure to continue?
How will your new technological knowledge benefit your technical education in the coming year?