Thesis Update: Inclusive Art Education

12105689_10153189495548067_5084349331891914391_nHi, my name is Avery and I am a current graduate student in Art Education at the City College of New York. I worked as an editorial photographer for many years but changed careers so I could better connect with youth, art, and community. Now I work as a Family Programs Facilitator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and as an Art Educator at the New-York Historical Society. I am also a Teaching Artist Apprentice for Urban Arts Partnership and a volunteer for the Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art program.

averyAs a career changer, I am diving into the field with an enthusiasm for the various ways art education is provided in New York City. Most of my new roles are with outreach programs that partner with local public schools to enrich their core subjects and provide time for creative expression. I love that as an art educator, I am able to work in museums, schools, and with various organizations, all with the goal to foster creativity and youth empowerment. I am working toward my initial teaching certification so that I may also have the option of being a full time public school art teacher. In addition to sharing my love for art, I also enjoy biking around the city, getting outdoors for a hike or ocean swim, and searching for tacos comparable to those in my hometown of San Diego, CA.

 

img_0763I am passionate about inclusive education and figuring out ways to include all students in the artistic process, regardless of their labeled challenges and special needs. For my thesis I am looking at how differentiation of instruction is carried out in New York City inclusive public middle school art classrooms. I am defining inclusive to align with local policy of providing a Least Restrictive Environment where students with and without Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) learn alongside one another. I chose this topic while examining national education policies that continue to increase the number of students with special needs learning in inclusive classrooms. I began to wonder, as a pre-service teacher, how I would be able to differentiate my instruction to make each learning experience accessible to every student. I wanted to learn more about how middle school art teachers in the field balance policy, curriculum, and instructional demands while also considering the socio-emotional challenges of adolescence.

screen-shot-2016-06-28-at-12-31-28-pmThrough my research, I have found that many art teachers feel unprepared to teach students with special needs and unsupported by public school inclusion policies. There is very little research on inclusive art classrooms, and I hope to add to the conversation so that stakeholders can better support the creative growth of all art students.

I think art has the unique ability to engage and inspire various types of learners. The challenges students may face in their core classrooms, may become assets in the art room. Art is an opportunity for self expression, experimentation of ideas and materials, and community building through collaboration. I am so excited to continue to grow as an art educator and learn more about fostering equitable, inclusive environments for my students. img_2596

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