Missouri Teacher Standards
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Content knowledge aligned with appropriate instruction.
As an arts educator, it is necessary to stay up to date on the latest trends, practices, and ideas in art education as well as those within the world of contemporary art. The importance of attending artist lectures, gallery openings, and festivals expands my knowledge and therefore has an impact on the content I teach in my classroom. Careful investigation of objects, color, line, texture, form, all contribute to a child’s critical thinking skills. Having students look at works of art and interpret meaning helps them learn to see. As art critic John Berger wrote: “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Giving children the tools and vocabulary to express what they see is at the heart of art education.
The need for open dialogue and eagerness to ask questions is encouraged. When I do not have the answers it is an opportunity to research and learn as a class. Art extends beyond the visual practice. Other content areas that frequently cross over into art curricula include English Language Arts, geometry, music, and chemistry. Allowing students to find relevant connections to these other subject areas is one of my primary roles. Allowing students to access a variety of materials and introducing them to different historical periods and cultures will ensure they receive a well-balanced art curriculum.
Last year I had the opportunity to travel to India. While visiting the state of Kerala I attended the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. This is the only art biennale held in the country and hosts a significant number of local and international artists. A powerful contrast exists between the contemporary art and historic location, Fort Kochi. There were two installations I found particularly striking while walking through the dimly lit spaces of the venue. I first noticed a large restroom. Upon careful investigation, I realized the material was folded paper. Indian artist, Dia Mehta Bhupal, uses meticulously folded scraps from old magazines to construct life-size spaces. The detail and precision of her work was utterly incredible. A few minutes later, I walked into a room with a bright, colorful mural on the opposite wall. On a bench near the wall were containers of ground pigments and stacks of brushes. I heard the artist, PK Sadanandan, speaking to a couple in Malayalam. I did not want to disturb their conversation, so I spent time studying his work. The gorgeous line quality and blending of color was breathtaking. I left that evening feeling I had experienced something unique and sacred. Upon returning to the United States, I have spent time researching more of the artists from the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale. A life-long learner, I am constantly searching for new information and thrive from being exposed to different experiences. Although I may not be able to take my students to a foreign country, I will bring the ideas and inspiration from those trips with me into my teaching practice.
Student Learning, Growth and Development
Student growth is the primary function of our education system. In a room full of students with different backgrounds, resources, and needs, it can be hard to know how to plan for the amount of diversity in one class. As an educator, I recognize that having an initial plan is necessary, but equally important is knowing how to adapt that plan. Being sure learning goals are attainable for every child requires meeting students where they are and then helping them grow from that point. Differentiated instruction is the primary model for this type of learning environment. Within the art education community, differentiated instruction can be aligned with the TAB (Teaching Artistic Behavior) classroom model. Young artists in TAB rooms are given full autonomy when it comes to materials, subject matter, and concept behind a work of art. This structure closely aligns with how professional artists work; it also encourages problem solving with limitless creative solutions.
Recently I had the opportunity to use differentiated lesson design for one of my summer camps. Many students enrolled in the class were interested in acting and script writing, however one of the students had a greater interest in visual art. My co-teacher and I decided that I could work one-on-one with this student while the other instructor led drama activities. Together we created small dioramas using materials I had brought from my studio. The two of us worked alongside one another but this student was completely engaged in her project. She was able to problem solve any issues that arose without my assistance and worked diligently the entire afternoon, creating the interior of a diner (pictured below). It was obvious that her prior experiences in the art room and skills as an artist aided in her final product. The piece was finely crafted; she paid close attention to detail, from the intricate floor tiles to hand-drawn Coca-Cola sign above the counter. The experience taught me that when students are left to explore, the end product can be truly amazing.
Example of student work
Long-range curriculum planning ensures that educators give appropriate thought to content taught throughout the year. Using enduring understandings and essential questions helps educators determine the overarching themes to be taught before zoning in on the specific content of a lesson. This type of preparation guarantees that lessons are formulated from main concepts and ideas, as opposed to a series of “one off” projects with no unifying concept. The other components of Missouri Teacher Standard #3 include formulating lessons for diverse learners and using effective instructional strategies based on the student’s needs. Getting to know your students plays a vital role in making sure lessons are tailored to their unique learning needs.
The unit plan, Contemporary African-American Artists, is designed for a sixth grade visual art classroom. Within art history, the story often told is that of white, male artists. This is an unfortunate occurrence since there are so many other narratives that need to be heard. A primary motivation for this unit is that the artwork being shown and discussed will be a reflection of the student population at my school. Having a curriculum that outlines which artists are covered over the length of a school year will allow me to assess whether multiple voices are being represented. If students understand the value of listening to and learning from people of different backgrounds while in school, then it will lead to tolerance later in life. My hope would be these children grow up to become compassionate and empathetic members of society. In terms of content implementation, this curriculum pulls from various state and national standards, including: Core Art Standards, Missouri Learning Standards, Show-Me Standards, and Missouri GLEs. Over the last year I have grown more familiar with the standards and grade level expectations for young artists in grades K-12. As standards continue to change and evolve, I plan on making those adjustments to my curriculum as well. This will allow me to stay current with the latest techniques and approaches to innovative learning.
It is crucial to have varying instructional strategies that will encourage student learning beyond the classroom. Giving students opportunities to learn in the community will help them become aware of the local arts scene and/or be exposed to cultures they may not have experienced before. Teaching students from an early age to utilize free cultural resources, like the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, and Missouri History Museum, will give them educational experiences that encourage creativity and critical thinking. The unique programming at these institutions and resources they offer enhances student learning in an alternative setting.
Last year I took a course focused on Museum Education within the K-12 curriculum. One of the projects for the course was to design a scavenger hunt for students at the Saint Louis Art Museum. I used the theme, Domestic Details, to get students thinking about various objects in a home, including those from the past as well as contemporary objects. The goal of the scavenger hunt was to get students to travel to different sections of the Museum’s collection and ask them to explore a work of art. Instructional resources like scavenger hunts require careful visual investigation on the part of the student and ask them to use critical thinking skills to answer questions. Having students work in small groups, as opposed to solving these problems independently, is another way to get them interested in the subject matter and expand learning opportunities beyond the textbook.
Positive Classroom Environment
The energy and attitude of a classroom influence the type of learning that goes on within a school. It is imperative that students understand the policies and procedures of different classrooms, encompassing the larger guidelines set by the school and/or district. Educators should have an understanding of appropriate classroom management techniques as well as adjusting the pace of a lesson depending on the students’ level of understanding. Allowing students to share ideas with their peers and collaborate on projects will lead to a feeling of community within the content area.
An inviting, accessible space for students to create is imperative for every art educator. In my future art room, I will provide students with a breadth of resources and tools so they can have access to the appropriate materials for any project. Students will be encouraged to research and develop a plan for projects that cater to their individual interests. Allowing choice within my room will lead to a deeper level of engagement from learners and get them excited about the limitless options of making work. Inspiration can come from various sources; I intend to make my classroom one of them. Having my room set up in a way that promotes creativity is extremely important to me. Filling the walls with images of artwork from various time periods and locations will help students make visual comparisons and connections. My clinical teacher this semester has done an excellent job using student examples, artifacts, and color to fill her room (see below). Likewise, I will make a space that welcomes students and encourages creative thinking upon entering the room.
Communication is one of the most crucial components within the field of education. How a teacher uses body language, facial expressions, and gestures effect every child in the room. It is the responsibility of the educator to be aware of these nonverbal cues and make sure s/he is presenting a warm, positive energy at all times. Aside from body language, students are also aware of what teachers verbally communicate. Therefore, a professional demeanor must be consistently employed when working with students, co-workers, parents, and leaders in the community. Another responsibility of the educator is to protect all views and opinions in the classroom, even when they may be in contrast to his/her personal beliefs. Acknowledging differences in opinion lets students know that their ideas are safe within your classroom.
When looking ahead to working in my future school, one of my main priorities is to keep an open line of communication between myself and others in the school community. I want administrators, parents, and fellow teachers to know what content is being taught in my room. One of the ways I plan to do this is fill empty hall spaces with student work. The presentation of students’ artwork lets them know that their pieces are valued. It will also allow them to unknowingly take on the role of the viewer. Making visual art accessible gives them opportunities to form opinions and think critically about the work in front of them. Aside from filling the school with artwork, I plan on utilizing the website Artsonia to give parents quick access to their child’s work. This online platform is described as the “World’s Largest Student Art Museum” and can be used as a fundraising tool to purchase new supplies and/or equipment for my art room.
Student Assessment and Data Analysis
Student assessment and data analysis help keep teachers accountable for their students’ learning progress. When teachers have insight as to what their students know, it helps them construct meaningful lessons that provide differentiation for all learners. Assessments can also be used to develop short-term and long-term goals for individual students.
The use of assessments in an art room may be surprising to some, as this content area is often considered subjective. However, being able to gage student progress is imperative for all educators. I plan to use rubrics as formal assessments when grading final projects. This will help my students know why I assigned them a certain grade and provide a level of transparency when it comes to the grading process. Students will be given pre-assessments and post-assessments so I can have a better understanding of the concepts students are grasping versus areas of instruction that may need to be re-taught using an alternative strategy. I will also use informal evaluations like bell ringers and class discussions to see if students are able to synthesize and apply concepts when it comes to art production. Outside of individual needs, I will be aware of how class dynamics affect the overall energy of the room. Remaining attentive and open to the ever-changing needs of my students will help me construct lessons that best meet their unique needs. Click the links below to view assessments for my third grade unit, Nature and the Environment Around Us. The collagraph lesson rubric applies to one of the four lessons from that unit.
Professionalism within the field of education involves making a strong commitment to lifelong learning. Having a sense of curiosity, seeking out new information, and staying up to date on the latest trends and research within a specific content discipline all contribute to an educator’s growth. Aside from professional learning, exploring new methods of instruction and welcoming change is imperative to a teacher’s success. Resources like the Teaching Channel and The Iris Center provide accessible, innovative learning techniques for educators to use in their classroom.
My personal goal is to grow and evolve as an artist and educator. Using experiences outside of the classroom will inevitably affect the quality of instruction my students receive. These experiences can range from artist workshops, attending programs and lectures at local museums, and reading publications relevant to contemporary art, such as Sculpture magazine, or professional publications like Show Me Art. Maintaining an artistic practice is especially important to me. Working through artistic challenges in my studio and remembering the amount of problem-solving and critical thinking that goes into making a work of art will help me better empathize with my students.
Within the field of education, it is crucial to have an awareness of what is going on in the school as well as the local community. It is the teacher’s job to work with parents, colleagues, students, and community members to create a safe and nurturing environment to foster learning. Keeping the needs of the student as the central focus, collaboration with colleagues should be a regular occurrence to ensure student needs are being met across content areas and grade levels. In order to be an effective educator, it is also important to network with other like-minded professionals.
The picture below represents a collaboration between myself and fellow art educators at the 2017 Missouri Arts Education Association Fall Conference at Knob Noster State Park. Friday evening of the conference attendees were invited to create sun mandalas while swapping helpful hints on classroom management techniques and lesson plan ideas. The collaborative process gave instructors a chance to utilize their own creative strengths while networking with educators from across the state of Missouri. Attending the conference reiterated a previously held belief: learning form professionals in my content area will help improve my craft and lead to continued growth.