I want students to leave my classroom with an appetite for continued discovery, feeling accomplished and empowered with the ability to think critically, solve problems, and test new boundaries. It is my desire for them to become able, industrious agents of expression and creativity. To satisfy these expectations, I implement several instructional approaches and personal practices that are a combination of experience in the classroom, research of new methods and practices, influence of past instructors, and continued observation of colleagues.
Believing that students need a firm foundation to stand on as they mature as an artist, each assignment, process, and material introduced is a building block for the next step, whether it is the next project, the next class, or future artistic activity. I begin each project by teaching safety, procedure, and technique for proper use of tools and materials. Very specific objectives for each assignment are outlined which include material and process, as well as design elements. In addition to hands-on projects, I use lectures, presentations, interactive discussions, demonstrations, and research and writing assignments to deliver valuable information to the student.
Keeping these objectives in mind, I emphasize good craftsmanship, value effort and work ethic over talent, and expect excellence, so that students develop high expectations for themselves. Allowing students to do and think independently encourages student-guided problem solving and learning from failures, however, I can also identify when an obstacle becomes too great for the student to overcome on their own, or when expectations are set too high. By asking questions and giving suggestions to guide them to a solution, I offer support for optimal student success. I strive to create a positive atmosphere that is inclusive, bolsters creativity, and builds confidence. Promoting encouraging interaction among the students creates a space that is community oriented, where every student has valid ideas and a safe environment to express them.
I constantly reevaluate my instruction methods, expectations, and course content. At the end of every semester, I update assignments to ensure the material stays fresh and exciting, while still meeting objectives and the overall goals of teaching art production, art criticism, and art history. In my own art making, I lead by example. Practicing daily creativity, research, and experimentation, I hold myself to the same high standards and challenge myself as I challenge my students. The energy and passion that are put into my own work are then transferred to the students through more engaging instruction and innovative ideas.