As a student teacher supervisor, I am simply in awe of the difference I see between art rooms in North Texas as I visit my student teachers. Perhaps because as art educators we have more leeway than other disciplines, I see a wide range of methods. In Texas there are specific standards for every grade level, and there are tests that cover many of them, but because most districts don't have art tests, the stakes are not as high for the art teacher to cover specific content. I believe that is why there are more diverse methods and ideas in art rooms.
I have been in 36 different schools in 9 different school districts. The most radically different classrooms are those that embrace key parts of the 21st Century learning curriculum which aim to develop independent thinkers and therefore require self-directed learning in their classroom.
This week I observed one of my student teacher's lessons for an introductory course at an IB (International Baccalaureate) High School. The class was diverse in age and ethnicity, yet they were all motivated to create their own artwork to answer self-defined visual problems. One junior told me that she joined the class because she wants to learn to be a conceptual artist. Really? Most people do not even know what a conceptual artist does. Although she had just completed her first small drawings, she has the important notion that in art, the concept is most important. I had another student teacher who was lucky enough to student teach in a choice-based elementary art room. The teacher had set-up her classroom so students could choose the medium to work with and the subject of their artwork. This classroom seems like it should feed into a IB high school, but it is in a different school district all together. Art teachers are an independent lot and students benefit from multiple experiences with different kinds of instruction. Hopefully all students get a chance to create with a teacher that enables them to solve visual problems on their own.
I tell my student teachers that they are fortunate to be starting their careers in North Texas because in this amazing growth area there are new schools and jobs popping up all the time. Texas requires fine art in all student's schedules from kindergarten through at least one year of high school and I get to see what's happening in places far and wide.
|My student teacher seminar group meets to share ideas|