Ever since I was young, the art-making process has been essential in my life and development. Art was, and still is, my outlet and comfort zone. Finding an alternative way to express myself helped me find confidence. I want my students to feel the same ease and acceptance while creating art that I did as a young learner. I believe that allowing students to freely experiment with their materials, their environment and their own curiosities will let them feel a more personal connection to their work as well as help them develop as confident individuals.
I also believe that the art making process helps foster empathy towards others, something that students should learn to develop early on. The art making process forces us to ask questions about ourselves and to take risks to further understand ourselves, as well as our neighbors at home and across the globe. Students will only move in this direction, however, if the environment in which they’re learning and growing is comforting, positive and accepting. Setting a positive tone in the classroom, one marked by kindness and humor, is extremely important to me. If created early on, I think a positive tone can benefit every other aspect of the physical classroom space, such as the visuals (resources, diverse representations of all types of people and experiences), seating, classroom set-up, artwork displays, student interactions, etc. Letting my students know through my words and my actions that I am learning right alongside them will help create an easy-going and supportive atmosphere.
I believe that the teacher is also a learner. Through developing a collaborative learning environment where peers learn to communicate respectfully with each other, I seek to encourage students to become independent learners, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens within the art classroom. By being open with students about my thought process, reasoning, and experiences with troubleshooting I hope that my classroom can be a place of experimentation, honesty and growth for everyone.