Thesis Update: Teacher Talk in the Art Classroom


Greetings!  My name is Kendra Grady.  I am looking forward to being a proud graduate of City College’s Art Education Master’s Program in less than two weeks!  I have been teaching elementary art for eight years, in the South Bronx.  I have spent the last three years teaching art at Heketi Community Charter School.  There is never a dull moment in working with five to ten year olds.  They come into my classroom with such a sense of curiosity, excitement, and imagination.  I often find myself wondering, what experiences lead students to make declarations like: “I love art”, “I’m a great artist”, “I don’t like art”, or “I’m not an artist”.  Among the many factors that contribute to individuals’ beliefs about their capabilities and that of those around them, I am interested in the ways art teachers’ impact students.  I have decided to examine the implications of art teacher talk on students’ attitudes toward learning and making.  Elementary art teachers are the first to plant seeds about what art is, what it means to be an artist, and create art.  The visual art classroom is such a unique environment because with every task and interaction students can document their thinking, process, and unique personality.  However, research on what actually takes place in the art classroom is scarce, especially at the elementary level.  Much of what I have learned in the field of art education research with a focus on classroom discourse can be attributed to Teresa L. Cotner.  She leads in the only recent research specifically related to discourse in the art classroom.

I decided to approach my inquiry by conducting a case study, with two elementary art teachers and their students.  It was essential to get inside an elementary art classroom during the time of instruction and art-making.  By focusing on teacher talk in the art room, I am filling a gap in existing research about students’ experiences in visual art classes.  I’m excited that my research has taken on a more balanced approach, by looking to elementary students for insight.  My research supports the notion that there is much to be gained from investigating individuals’ earliest art experiences.  I hope my research will help art educators improve their practice, and help the field of education value the trans-formative work that takes place in the art classroom.

Stay tuned for more information about my new blog, on, ‘Art class with Ms. Grady’.


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