Monthly Mentor

Daniel Humphrey (August)
Daniel Humphrey is an art educator that is just starting his young career. He is currently entering his second year of teaching and works at Holy Name High School in Parma Hts., Ohio. Dan has also had the privilege of working with youth who are at-risk/incarcerated at detention centers in the greater Cleveland/Akron area—an experience that he constantly researches and presents at both state and national conferences. Dan continues to develop his personal practice—showcasing his works in numerous galleries and collaborating on community murals. He was recently awarded the New Professional Art Educator of the Year at the 2014 NAEA National Convention.

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Friday 08. 1.14

Be a ‘Real’ Teacher

As summer is winding down and the school year is just around the corner, I am starting to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I will be starting a job at a new school—with a different environment, a different staff, and most importantly, different students. In order to deal with this sense of anxiety, I reflected back on letters and conversations I had with the kids at my previous school, and one particularly stands out.

An 8th grade girl once told me, "Mr. Humphrey… you’re not a ‘normal’ teacher. You’re a ‘real’ teacher.  Do you know what I mean? You actually care about us, you joke around with us… you poke fun at us and we can poke fun right back at you. You not only teach us stuff about art, you teach us stuff about life and being a good person."

It is a simple, but often overlooked task. Teaching isn’t so much about the subject, but rather the relationships. Kids take away what they want from your class, and let’s be honest, the majority of your students probably won’t become fine artists; however, they will need that out of the box thinking in whatever career they choose. Most importantly, they will need that 21st century skillset the rest of their lives. So teaching isn’t so much about the memorization of a subject, and art education isn’t about training your kids to be the next Picasso or Warhol. Teaching is about providing opportunities for your students to grow into well-rounded members of society. Teaching is about being there for your students, helping them through the sad and happy times. Teaching is about being ‘real.’

It might not always be the best way (depending on your definition of best), but I always try to be ‘real’ with my students. By being ‘real,’ I mean that I tell them how it is—how the world works. I make accommodations in order to spark their interests and connect with them on a personal level. I take time to talk with every student, make eye contact with each one, and poke fun at a few of the thicker skins. I build a relationship with them in which they know nobody is perfect—including me. I do what I need to for my students. They are with me the majority of the day; therefore, it is my duty to give them the information that they need. If my students want to learn to change a flat tire, you know I am going to do what I have to in order to connect changing a flat tire to the world of art.

A wise man (and by wise man I mean my cooperating teacher during student teaching) once told me “teaching is about getting the students what they need, NOT what they want.” Sure, we all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad days; but at the end of the period, week, quarter, semester, etc., if the students walk away with the knowledge that they truthfully need, I think it is safe to say we did our jobs.

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Monday 07.28.14

Artists and Influence

Last week, Joshua Wolf Shenk wrote an article, The End of Genius, for the New York Times. In a nutshell, it discusses the idea that was propagated in the nineteenth century of the solitary artist genius. While we now know that the great artists worked alongside other artists and ran workshops with many artists, the idea of the artist genius still holds on with some. As the museum I work in has works of art by most of the major Spanish masters I want to explore the idea of artists and influence as a teaching concept in your own classroom.  

The Meadows Museum is fortunate to own three paintings by the 17th century Spanish master, Diego Velázquez. We also have six paintings by the 18th century painter Francisco de Goya. Goya was privileged as an artist to have found an appointment as a painter at the court of Madrid while he was in his 20s. Having access to the royal palaces meant he had access to the great collections that today make up the foundation of the Prado Museum.  Goya acknowledged three masters: Rembrandt, Velázquez, and nature. Goya’s study of Velázquez is clearly documented in a series of drawings he made after the great paintings by the master in the royal collections. He created the drawings with the intention of creating a series of etchings that would be reproducible and therefore make the work of Velázquez better known. Goya was influenced by a number of different artists from his time. Some scholars believe that works in his famous print series, Los Caprichos, were influenced by prints made by the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo who was also working for King Charles III in Madrid.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), Prince Balthasar Carlos as Hunter (after Velázquez), 1778-79. Red Crayon over preliminary drawing in pencil. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett (38540). Photo by Christoph Irrgang.

Velázquez was also influenced by his master Francisco Pacheco, who he trained with in Seville. He worked and met many of the major artists of his time including Peter Paul Rubens, with whom he shared a Madrid studio in 1827-28. While traveling in Italy, Velázquez met with the Spanish master Jusepe de Ribera.  The artist whose influence might be the strongest on Velázquez is the Venetian painter Titian, whose work he was able to study in depth in the Spanish royal collections. There is a distinct softening in Velázquez’s painting style after he viewed the works of Titian and other Italian masters.

I mention all this to say that art is about influence, and invention is really born through what is learned and adapted from others.  While I am sure that we often encourage students to copy after other artists, we do not do enough to encourage the kind of sharing and building, and, in some cases, freely stealing in order to invent and create something new, as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque often did.  I say this also as an artist myself who often will take what close artist friends are doing in their work and try it out in my own. Of course there are times when something I make reminds me too much of someone else’s work. However, after a while, artists will assimilate what really works for them and it becomes their own again. I hope you will take the opportunity to discuss the idea of artists and their influences with your students and come up with unique ways to get them to look at art and find what really inspires them. 

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Wednesday 07.16.14

Strategies for Facilitating a Conversation about a Work of Art

We all know that how we interface with each museum is a little different. Most often students interact in a gallery experience with a volunteer or possibly a paid gallery teacher. The teacher in the museum experience will most likely provide information about a set of objects, sometimes through questioning strategies, or possibly activities. While for many years, educators in museums crafted questions to investigate a work of art, today many in the art museum education field approach teaching with works of art through a facilitated discussion. In this entry I will discuss some ways to begin thinking about opening up the conversation and making a level playing field for talking about a work of art in your classroom.

You will want to select the work of art that will be discussed. It should be a work that you are familiar with and know a good bit about. A work I often use for this purpose in my own museum is Juan Carreño de Miranda’s Portrait of King Charles II, ca. 1675.

  Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614-1685)
Portrait of King Charles II, c. 1675
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase Thanks to a Gift from Jo Ann Geurin Thetford in Honor of her Sons, Garrett and Wyatt Pettus. MM.2010.02
Meadows Museum

Begin by giving students time to examine the artwork in silence. It may seem like a long time, but give them about three minutes. After a minute or so they will most likely give you a questioning look, but direct your attention to the work of art and generally they will also.

Following looking time, if you think you might have difficulty getting students to talk about the work ask them to turn to someone close by and discuss something they noticed in the work, or something they have a question about. Give students about five to seven minutes to discuss with their partners, or wait until the discussion dies down and then invite the group to share what they were discussing about the work. This is a great ice breaker for warming up the group for discussion.

When students give observations about the work respond by paraphrasing what they have said back to the whole group - such as in the case of the Portrait of King Charles II, students often say, “I noticed a young girl dressed in black in an elaborate setting, and I want to know what she is holding in her hand.” A good response to this is “You noticed that there is a young girl who is wearing all black and standing in a richly decorated space, and you have a question about what she is holding in her hand.” Rather than offering an answer to the question this poses the question back out to the group. Also this type of response validates the student’s observations by not correcting about the gender of the individual in the painting. Generally, the group will begin to question whether the sitter is a boy or a girl, and will begin to notice other features about the person in the portrait.

Continue to allow for student responses, and make paraphrasing a habit in how you respond to their observations.  Paraphrasing is key to the process because it requires the facilitator to listen and process what an individual says. It validates the response and allows for clarification of what was said for the entire group.  

Avoid responding to students with phrases like, “That is a good observation!” or “I am so glad you noticed that.” Responses like these set up the idea that you are looking for a correct answer.  

When opening up the conversation about the work give a good bit of time to listening and paraphrasing before introducing content. When students begin to make observations that lead to an interpretation of the work of art, then you can begin to provide information that is relevant to the observation. For example, in relation to the Portrait of King Charles II, once they have established through their own observations that he is a person of importance, some often speculate that he may be a prince or a king. Once the idea is brought up by someone in the group it is fitting to introduce that he is in fact the last Spanish Hapsburg King and that the letter in his hand is a paper of authority and symbolizes his administrative duties.

Don’t feel like you have to tell them everything you know about the work. Only provide information that is relevant to the observations made by the group.

Allowing for an open discussion about a work of art as a group will result in rich and interesting ideas to explore with your students. Introducing class discussions of works of art will also help to spark ideas in your students’ own art making. 

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 07. 8.14

Visiting the University or College Museum or Art Gallery

For much of my career I have worked at large museums that see a high volume of K-12 students through their doors each year. For the past seven years, I have worked at a small university art museum, the Meadows Museum, located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU). The campus is positioned about five miles from downtown Dallas where the arts district is located which includes a group of art museums and numerous performing arts venues. I often find myself making the case for visiting the Meadows and SMU. I thought I could use this forum to speak to the benefits of visiting your local university or college’s museum or art gallery.

There is a range of different types of museums and art galleries to be found on university and college campuses. Many have smaller gallery spaces that are used to showcase student work and/or contemporary art exhibitions. Some larger universities have accumulated extensive encyclopedic art collections. Others, like the Meadows Museum, house more intimate and focused collections, in our case, Spanish art spanning primarily from the fifteenth-century to the present. In addition, most of these museums or galleries have changing exhibitions on a range of art topics that can be useful in engaging your students in discussion and activities with real works of art.  

One of the best arguments towards visiting an academic art museum or gallery is that you can pair your visit to learn about and view real works of art with a campus tour to introduce students to a university/college setting. Ideally this works best for secondary students, as most universities or colleges are prepared to provide tours for high school students, but there are also opportunities for middle school and elementary students on a college campus as well. I am fortunate to run a grant funded program that brings high school students from a local district to the campus to visit the Meadows Museum and then to tour the Meadows School of the Arts here at SMU. At times, when there is a specific art discipline being engaged, we can customize the tour so that students can visit the print lab or ceramics shop, or visit student studio spaces. We have also had opportunities to engage with performances with other arts disciplines with groups visiting the campus. Other times we introduce students to a broader campus tour, where they can see where students live as well as see the different academic areas that the university specializes in. It is always good to keep in mind that not all students in the art class will pursue a degree in the arts.

Students observing a demonstration of the intaglio print process at Meadows School of the Arts, SMU

Do keep in mind that when touring discipline specific schools on a university campus sometimes smaller groups are preferred, while a more general campus tour can often accommodate larger groups.  This is also true when visiting special collections (most often housed in libraries) on the university campus.  You can often schedule an opportunity for smaller groups to see rare manuscripts, maps and drawings. At the Meadows Museum, appointments to see rare prints held in the collection can be made for smaller groups. This makes a portion of the collection that is not usually accessible available for viewing. 

Students examine prints by Francisco de Goya in the Meadows Museum  

Often a trip to a local university or college campus to explore art and introduce the academic setting can be a customized experience for you and your students. It is worth looking into the opportunities afforded by recruitment through the university and the specific colleges or schools on campus. See what is being offered at your local university museum or art gallery and see where there seem to be natural connections with what you are already teaching in the classroom. The most valuable selling point I have learned through working with teachers at an academic art museum is when seeking approval from administrators for a visit away from school, the combined visit to an art museum at a university or college isn’t hard to sell.  
 
-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 07. 1.14

Making the Most of an Art Museum Visit

Although I have spent twenty-plus years working as a museum educator in art museums, I was trained as a K-12 art educator. This has led my work in museums to be dedicated to working with K-12 audiences, writing curriculum and teaching a range of ages in diverse museum settings. K-12 teachers and their students are one of the most important audiences for museums. A great deal of attention and effort is made by most museums to reach K-12 teachers, and often there are groups of teachers who utilize a museum and its workshop offerings for teachers, taking full advantage of the resources provided. 

Over the course of this month’s NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog, I will be writing about ways to make your trips with students to museums insightful and engaging. While I know many of you probably already take your students to museums and may already engage some of the ideas and themes I will discuss, I hope this might be an opportunity to inspire you to think differently about how you utilize the museum experience in your classroom teaching.

In this entry, I will not be discussing logistics of field trip planning, but more of how to begin to get to know your local museum and how you can go about incorporating the museum experience as part of your curriculum.

If you haven’t already, go to your nearest gallery, museum, or arts center and find out what programs they are offering. If you are in a larger metropolitan area, most museums, as I have mentioned, have staff dedicated to school and teacher programs.  They often provide materials at the beginning of each school year that list upcoming exhibitions and programs for teachers that can engage your own personal learning about art and aspects of their exhibitions and permanent collection. Teacher training in museums is most often focused on you as an adult learner and not just you as a teacher. These programs are valuable for your own personal engagement and rejuvenation with real works of art. In addition to the opportunity to slow down and think in a different way outside of the classroom context, museums most often provide curricular materials or activities, along with images for your use in teaching back at school. One of the most valuable aspects of teacher trainings in museums is the shared learning experience with other educators, and sometimes from different discipline areas. Most teacher training programs offer the opportunity for idea sharing amongst teachers, and I feel it is one of the best ways to get new ideas for use in your teaching.

If it is not possible to attend workshop offerings, try to speak to someone on staff in the education department of the museum. Usually there is a dedicated person who works specifically with teacher audiences and they can often refer you to areas of their collection that might best fit your curricular needs. They will also be able to guide you to curricular materials and image resources that can be useful in introducing the art museum to students.

The most important aspect of preparing your students for a visit to the museum is building excitement and interest before the trip. Make sure you introduce something from the collection or some aspect of the museum before they visit. This could be done quickly by simply showing a few images and letting them know what they might be seeing, or actually assigning them a work of art from the collection to research before the visit. Each time I have had the opportunity of working with a class where students have some prior knowledge or engagement with the works of art they are going to see in person the experience for them (and for me as a museum educator) is completely transformed. This builds ownership and interest in the object before they see the real thing. This approach provides a whole new aspect to the dialogue with the object, comparing expectations from what was viewed in reproduction and what was learned before the visit, to how the object looks in person, and what about the object is revealed by examining the real thing.

The engagement with real works of art is one of the most important opportunities provided when visiting museums. It was in fact a high school field trip with an art class that ignited my interest in art and led the way to a career of working in the arts.       

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 06.17.14

Planned Procedures

As we head into the new school year it is important to think about our expectations. Not only do we have expectations of the art they will make but we expect students to follow our class procedures.

To begin with class procedures, an art teacher needs to realize that what works for one teacher might not work for them and that is okay. There are several areas of procedures that a new teacher should plan out for the beginning of the year. With that being said, I still reflect each year on what was successful and what needs to change.  I also think about what I was able to sustain throughout the school year and where I became too relaxed with procedures.  Every year, I spend the first day of art talking to each class about procedures. I found that as the day went on I was finished earlier and earlier. I don’t know if I talked faster or I just started cutting stuff out because I was forgetting things. I created a Prezi last year to help me keep track of everything I wanted to say and it helped with keeping the students’ attention. Here is the link to my presentation: First Day Prezi

Entering your classroom – I have my elementary students enter, sit in their assigned seat and be focused to the lesson and instructions for the day. I start right away as I know I will only have their attention for so long.  When I taught middle and high school students, students entering the room early in the passing time were able to get supplies and their artwork but when the bell rang, everyone needed to be seat and ready to participate in the lesson. 

Student seats – Assigned seats definitely helps with learning students names. For elementary, I have eight tables paired together. I have assigned the tables a color by placing a colored supply tray on each table (plastic silverware trays from a dollar store spray painted). In placing the colors, I matched them up as complimentary colors. Red and Green tables are together, Purple and Yellow tables are together, etc.  I even use black and white.  There are many ways to label tables such as by artist or shapes. For seating arrangements, I make it simple for myself, the first four students listed on the roster sit at the first table (red), the second four students sit at the next table (green) and so forth. I do change some students’ seats as there might be a boy surrounded by girls or vice versa. Younger students seem to have a problem with it but older students usually don’t mind. I do change seats for students that are not working well at that table (off task or bothering others).  

Teaching your lesson – In your lesson plan you will have a plan on how you will execute each lesson: demonstration, whiteboard, or technology presentation. In my district we have a requirement that we elicit 100 percent participation. It is essential to start the year being very strict about when you are speaking-the students do not. If you do not require this at the beginning then it will be very frustrating and will only get worse throughout the year.  The old saying, Don’t Smile Until Christmas, doesn’t REALLY mean you can’t smile but there is wisdom in keeping a strong commitment to your high expectations on how students should conduct themselves in your room.

Getting and keeping their attention – For the little ones, I do use the ‘Mona-Lisa’ response. I will say, ‘Mona’ and the students will respond with ‘Lisa’. I found it last year on Pinterest and it works every time. Each of our classrooms uses some type of Whole Brain response and my students think it is pretty cool that I use an art one for them. Students have their lips closed, hand still and eyes are on me while I am talking.  If I see that my younger students are getting squirmy while I am talking I find that when I change to an English, Southern, or ‘Pirate’ accent they love it and want to hear more. I get to keep teaching and they are listening- works for me!  

Getting artwork – I have students get their own artwork from the drying rack or storage area for artwork expect for kindergarten to third grade.  In grades 4th through 12th they are mature enough to handle this aspect if they are doing it in some groups. Instructing the whole class in general to go their work will create an unsafe pileup at the drying rack or cabinet. I have done this!  I see disaster ahead so I say, ‘STOP, my fault, everyone sit back down so we can try this again’. There is nothing wrong with stopping and redirecting when you see something is not working. What I find that works it having small groups at a time get their artwork, supplies or even be dismissed. This can be done by table, gender, what color they are wearing, the list goes on and you can have fun with it.    

Getting supplies – I only have pencils and erasers on the table. I find that if I have items such as scissors and glue out as well, they become items to play with while I am teaching.  As supplies are needed, students will get them and put them in the trays for the class.  I have jobs for each seat at each table.  This is the area that I do relax on and I shouldn’t because the elementary students like having an important ‘job’. 

Clean up and exiting – In addition to entering, students need a safe and controlled procedure to exiting your classroom.  The end of class procedure should allow time for cleanup. It is hard at first to be tied to the clock but you must allow enough time for the students to have the room ready to go for the next. Then students can sit in seats and wait to be dismissed by table. This will ensure that you are able to see the room and ensure artwork, supplies and materials are properly put away and ready for the next class.  You don’t have time between classes cleaning tables and tools, putting away artwork, or organizing materials. I am a stickler about ‘If you get it out-You put it away’ and ‘You can be as messy as you need to be- But...you will need to clean it up before you are dismissed’.  Don’t short change yourself on cleanup time. Students can be amazing artists but they are still capable of taking responsibility for the supplies and tools in the art room at every grade level, kindergarten through high school, and it will make your job easier as you have enough other things to get accomplished.   

Have a plan, try it out, make adjustments and enjoy a little less stress throughout the year by having solid procedures for your classroom.

-Connie Ferguson, M.ED, NBCT

Monday 06. 9.14

Planning Ahead

As a new teacher or a teacher transferring to a new school, it is hard to wait until school starts. I am sure you want to get started! There are a few things that you can do this summer that you will need this fall.  

Create a Website Plan
There aren’t too many schools without websites these days and most have links to departments and teachers. If your school does not have a designated webpage for teachers, you can create a blog to promote your program. There are many wonderful blogs and websites by art teachers that you can be getting ideas from to incorporate in our own site or blog. Angie Nestor listed several in last month’s mentor blog. In some schools, like mine, websites are required and must be updated frequently. This is a wonderful place to showcase your art room, curriculum, and student achievements.

•  Art Room- This is a great spot to post art room rules and grading criteria. If you haven’t thought about your room rules and procedures, this summer is a good to do that so you start the year off with consistency. With that being said, I change my rules and procedures from year to year. If it is not working, I have to figure out why and create a new solution. My school has four basic rules that can cover everything; Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful and Be Prepared. At the beginning of the year, I explain each one and how it would apply to the art room.
•  Curriculum- This is a tab or link that you can create to highlight what you are teaching at each grade level. There are several options; list lesson plans, show pictures of student work, or post your yearlong plan. The yearlong plan can be posted by quarter so that if you make changes you can do it frequently. There is a nice planner called Planbook.com and it does charge a small fee but it is very handy if you want to go paperless. It works on a computer as well as a tablet. You can screen shot of your week and post it online. There is a link that can be shared with parents as well.
•  Student Achievements- Everyone loves pictures and this is a great way to show how your students shine. I really focus on this part on my Website. Look at other teachers’ websites at your new school and see how they are adding photos. Keep that in mind when you are planning your website. Three main areas you can focus on for photos are: Students working in the art room, Showcasing Artwork, Awards and Events.
•  Web Links – These can be links to art museums, online art games, etc. Summer is a great time to explore these because it is hard to find time during the school year.
•  Write an ‘About You’ Bio. List a few things about your education, one or two sentences about how you feel about art and maybe what you like to do while not teaching
•  Another item you can write now is a ‘Welcome Message’ for the front page of your website. I did this for several years but last year I created a message with Tellagami.  Now I change them for new messages. Whether you write it or you an App it is best if you make it short and show your excitement
•  Create a QR Code to fast track to your website (once you have it online) My website is through the district and it is a set template so there are not a lot of creative options but I do get showcase the students and their work so I post those QR codes on any communication I send home and on posters for more exposure. Here is a link on how to create a QR code that I made for teachers at my school.
•  Now is a good time to set up an Artsonia account. This is a fabulous place to showcase your students work. I also use it to incorporate my writing goal with artist statements. You can use the same Bio as what you plan for your website. Also, you can get your Newsletter ready to go for fall. Artsonia has a template you can use. Create a QR Code for your Front Page for Artsonia and you can use this along with your school website QR Code. 

-Connie Ferguson, M.ED, NBCT

Sunday 06. 1.14

Advice for New Teachers

If you are a new graduate with a teaching job for the fall or a teacher that has a few years  under your belt I would like to focus this month on things  that will make your first few years a little less stressful.

I would like to start this month by addressing one of the first things an art teacher should be doing this month- ordering supplies.

It is very important that you know what the current state of your supplies are in storage. This will affect two areas: ideas for projects and not over ordering on specific supplies. Take the time to do an inventory of the supply cabinets.  Even after almost 30 years, I still take inventory before I begin making my supply orders.

One of the first decisions you need to make is what you are going to be teaching at each grade level.  As a new teacher, that might be hard at first because you do not know what they have learned previously with other teachers. You can start with you lessons that you worked on while student teaching. To make a year-long plan, I plot my out on paper by quarter across the top and by discipline on the side. When complete, I will have lessons in each quarter and a variety of drawing, painting, and 3D projects for each grade level.

I do more of the drawing and painting than 3D but I make sure each grade level gets at least one 3D project if not more. It is hard to judge timing of projects because kids worked differently each year. What might take two weeks last year, might take three weeks this year. This happens for a number of reasons, students might be more detailed and meticulous, students might by the group that is slow – no hurry for anything, or you decide to add to the lesson. List all the lessons that you could possibly do in each quarter, you might not get to them all but at least you will have some choices. I do make a conscience effort to spiral their learning to build upon the prior lesson.

Once you have your lessons planned for each grade level, it is time to look at supplies. It is important to know what you are teaching before you order. There are several companies that specialize in art supplies and if your school does not have their catalogs, you can go online and request them.  You could have them sent to your home if you are not near your school.  Ordering supplies can be daunting because most generally money is tight and you will stress that you won’t order enough to last the full school year. Many times, teachers will save part of their budget for a November or December order so that if they miss something, they will have the money to get it.

• Full year planned: Lessons by grade level -Lessons by discipline
• List of supplies (and tools) needed for the lessons
• Inventory of supplies and tools in your art room
• Talk to your office manager/main admin assistant/head secretary
      o Get Catalogs
      o What is your budget amount?
      o How does she/he want you to submit your orders?
      o What % of discount does your school district get?
• Submit your orders as soon as you can. Your office manager will be very busy at the beginning of school and it is most helpful if you can start the year with the supplies you need.

Enjoy the process of ordering! Even after years of doing this, I love buying art supplies and love opening the boxes even more (like opening presents!).

-Connie Ferguson, M.ED, NBCT

Friday 05.30.14

Professional Development

First I want to THANK YOU for the role that you play in Visual Art Education. Too often we don’t thank educators for their dedication and commitment to providing quality arts education for all learners!

Educators are sometimes criticized that our work is easy with a 9:00-3:00 schedule, plenty of holidays and week-long vacations during the school year and of course, the big one, summers off. If you’ve been in education for any amount of time and are dedicated to your role as a professional, you know how inaccurate these accusations are. You are aware of how expectations of educators have gradually changed and are so much greater than they were 5-10 years ago. It is rare to find young teachers who selected teaching as a career only because they “like children”.

More importantly, teachers understand that a career in teaching includes ongoing professional development. In order to stay current and to continually serve the needs of our changing population, teachers need to be flexible and most importantly be life-long learners. We are never going to reach a point where we can stop learning, and the notion that what is working in our classrooms will always work, is not the case.

We are undergoing an enormous shift in Maine education (as some states are) with recent legislation that requires ALL students graduating in 2018 to be proficient in all eight content areas which includes Visual and Performing Arts. No longer can students graduate having fulfilled ‘seat time’ but they must demonstrate their learning. This impacts high school students entering grade nine in September 2014.

Take a moment and think about what that means. We are talking about all learners, not just some, but ALL students. Bottom line is that the shift is not just about how we teach but how students learn and the responsibility that both teachers and learners have in the educational environment. We’ve talked about standards-based education for years. And, we’ve discussed students in the center of their learning, that they are the key to their success. But it is time for all of the talk to turn into action. We owe it to our students!

Maine teachers and school districts have had the opportunity to prepare for the proficiency-based graduation for the last three years. The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) has taken these changes seriously and the leadership to provide arts educators the opportunity to expand their knowledge to address this shift. During this school year (2013-14) arts educators have had multiple opportunities to attend workshops at the regional, mega-regional, and statewide level. Teachers have discussed, argued and gotten excited as they look at student artwork and talk about proficiency. What does it look like and how do we know when we see it? Who knew that one small but significant topic could cause such a stir for art teachers?!

This summer educators are invited to attend the New England Summit on Arts Education being held at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, July 29-31 where the learning will continue. Three strands are available to meet the needs of teachers. Strand 1 is for teachers who are fairly new to assessment and is foundational in nature. Strand 2 is for educators who wish to attend as part of a team to devise a plan to put in place as they return to their schools/districts. Strand 3 is for those who are advanced in arts assessment and wish to go deeper and wider.

The Summit is available for graduate credit through the New England Institute for Teacher Education, Continuing Education Units through the University of Southern Maine, or 24 Contact Hours through the MAAI.

Since the establishment of the MAAI in 2010 at the heart has been professional development. It is an opportunity to bring arts teachers together to look closely at teaching, learning and assessment. Watching teachers having discussions, processing the research, and exchanging ideas affirms the value of the professional development offerings.

This is a unique opportunity and we know from past summer institutes that teachers have changed their classroom practices and given them the confidence to change others around them as they communicate the ideas and practices. In many schools the arts are at the center of the conversation due to the arts teachers involvement in MAAI. Not to mention there is nothing like summer in Maine! We hope you’ll consider joining us. Register today by clicking here. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email argy.nestor@maine.gov. Whatever your plans are for the summer I trust that they involve some type of professional development. I encourage you to take advantage of the multiple face-to-face and/or electronic learning opportunities that are available. And, make it a great summer!

-Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission 

Thursday 05.22.14

Arts Educators Leading the Way

Something exciting and unique is happening in Maine in visual and performing arts education. In 2010 the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) was established in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, Maine Art Education Association, Maine Music Educators Association, Maine Alliance for Arts Education, Maine Learning Technology Initiative, New England Institute for Teacher Education, and the Maine Arts Commission.

The overall mission is to create an environment in Maine where assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to improve student achievement in the arts.

The objectives include devising a statewide plan for assessment in arts education, which includes professional development opportunities, regionally and statewide, to expand on the knowledge and skills of teachers to improve teaching and learning.

HISTORY – Phase I, II, III – Summer 2011 to present
• Fifty two teacher leaders attended summer institutes on assessment, leadership, and technology, creativity, standards-based and student-centered teaching and learning, proficiency
• Teacher leaders presented workshops at two statewide arts education conferences with over 450 educators attending
• Teacher leaders facilitated over 100 regional workshops across Maine
• Teacher leaders facilitated workshops at 8 mega-regional sites across Maine
• Another Arts Teacher’s Story series (52) on Maine Arts Ed blog
• Arts assessment graduate courses offered by New England Institute for Teacher Education
• Nine arts education assessment webinars, archived with meeting plans 
Video stories of 7 teacher leaders that demonstrate a standards-based arts education classroom
• Teacher Leader Resource Team ongoing development of items for resource bank

Phase IV, being launched this month include teaching artists in the work and a summit that invites all educators to participate in an extended summer learning opportunity.

The MAAI is a grassroots effort that has arts educators finding their voices. They are being recognized as leaders in their individual school districts across the state and being asked to take on a variety of roles. The MAAI teacher leaders have been serving on committees for teacher evaluation, keynoting at district wide workshop days, being visited by other content and grade level teachers to learn about their standards-based work, attending workshops to represent their schools, and being recognized for their accomplishments. Arts educators are leading the way by doing what they do well and naturally. The 21st century is filled with opportunities for arts educators to take the lead.

-Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission
argy.nestor@maine.gov