My name is Zoë, and I am currently in my last semester in the Art Education program. Graduation lurks teasingly around the corner, yet it still feels like there are mountains to climb before I get there. I did my undergrad in theater design and have worked as a costumer for years, but it was my love of working in children’s theater that inspired me to take the leap, and jump feet first onto that crazy road of teaching.
When I think about teaching, it’s both terrifying and mystifying. Never knowing quite what to expect is all part of the intrigue, and although it seems I discover something new, insightful, and wonderful almost daily, I also discover the perplexity of some of the challenges teachers face everyday in the classroom.
I think about all the art projects I can do, all the engagement strategies I can create to keep my students motivated and excited, and like most Art teachers I’ve spoken to, have a brain full of grand ideas. That is all very well and good, but what happens when there are too many snow days, or there are 650 students to one art teacher? What about if you only see your students once a week because of the school’s elective scheduling? How does that impact student art making? On the other hand, you might be one of those lucky teachers who get to see their students several times a week, or is actively encouraged by their schools to collaborate and integrate the arts throughout content areas, but then curriculum content becomes an issue as you have to create more units to do. I had no idea how different scheduling and structure could be so different throughout schools.
Whilst I’ve been student teaching, these questions have been ever present in my mind, especially as I take on the role of the teacher and realize 45 minutes isn’t enough time to get it all done, that projects take weeks to complete, and for those classes unfortunate enough to fall on a Monday, well… they can fall weeks behind due to school closures and class turns into a game of catch up.
It started me thinking: if there are so many structures and schedules out there for art courses across the country, what are the impacts on student art making and learning, and what do other teachers think about all this?
I feel a thesis coming on…
Starry Night project with my first grader’s.