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teaching philosophy

As an arts educator I hold four core tenets that guide my teaching philosophy.  They are:

  1. Teach and learn from a place of excitement and love
  2. How we feel and how we interact with each other affect the art we are inspired to make
  3. There are always more ways to approach a work of art or solve a problem
  4. The artist’s mind doesn’t live only in the classroom / art studio

I start each year, and each class period, by grounding myself and my students in the understanding that art making is a universal and human thing to do.  We should enjoy our work and create things that reflect what makes us feel alive.  Sometimes this means studying the family or painting pictures of animals that we feel close to.  Other times this means teaching arts skills and creating open ended projects for students to discover how to apply the new skill in a way that speaks to their passions.  

Joy and compassion are key tools to any artist.  I put a strong emphasis on creating a safe and supportive classroom culture so that students can relish in their mistakes and try new things without fear of negativity from peers.  Social emotional learning is built into how I plan my lessons, and emotional care and healing are considered part of the learning as much as color theory or design might be for a given project.

With this holistic lens and community of support from peers, students are excited to try new things, even without knowing if they will reach the goal of the project, or goals they set themselves.  When students are stuck, the artist’s mind is tapped as a resource to think about a problem in many different ways.  Children are often very good at coming up with fantastical solutions!  Whether we successfully solve the problem is not the only goal.  The practice of lateral and divergent thinking is a success in itself.

I encourage students to take their learning and apply it in all aspects of their lives.  When they are challenged by a friend, or having a problem at home, we can ask ourselves, “What would my inner artist do?”  From this place, students draw great personal strength and empowerment.  Even if they don’t become artists in their adulthood, my students will all know how to employ their artist mind when they need a creative solution.

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