My teaching philosophy is centered around the importance of creating a foundation for students to build upon as they advance through their education and onward after graduation. I emphasize four teaching elements: technical skill, research, concept development, and critical analysis, and I strive to promote them in an inclusive environment. It is my belief that students must be familiar with these principles in order to be successful in the studio. I combine these elements with supplemental lessons and activities to create a broad range of teaching exercises while building a supportive teaching relationship with individuals.
It is my goal to encourage students to engage and explore technical skill, research, conceptual development, and critical analysis as parts of a group. With practice, experience, and supplemental lessons, students will build confidence in the classroom. Each element is equally important, and I incorporate different amounts of each into assigned projects. All elements are important as exercises, but when combined they provide a foundation for a student to create habits that support self-growth.
Technical Skill is the most straightforward element of my philosophy. It is the hands-on approach of ‘doing’ or ‘making’ and is required of all mediums on some level. It is less subjective and may be easier to teach, but relies on the other three elements to help a student reach their full potential. I utilize detailed, but concise demonstrations to introduce processes and vocabulary. I also use books, handouts, and images to show a variety of methods of making.
Exploration is the most exciting element to share with students, as it can be a very personal process that is fine-tuned for each individual. It is a challenge to help a student take a leap into new territory whether they are working with a new material, process, subject matter, or imagery because each student has a different relationship with risk-taking. I strive to help a student explore their interest and perspective through guided exploration.
I believe it is crucial to help students understand how to develop a concept as they advance. Conceptual development is similar to exploration, but it refines or defines the discoveries from the exploration process. The development process requires a student to make decisions and follow through with those decisions. It is my goal to help students understand there is rarely a definitive end to the process, and the student should be open to continual exploration and reflection.
I introduce these ideas in small amounts through the course of a semester and support them with supplemental lessons that draw connections between projects, lectures, classroom discussions, and situations students might encounter in the studio or workplace. I strive to make my demonstrations, discussion, handouts, and project descriptions as clear as possible by using physical samples that can be handled, images of student and professional artwork, and literary resources. The four elements described above are stages of a cycle and should be repeated. I believe repetition will strengthen the students understanding of the cycle and lead to a higher frequency of positive outcomes.
To ensure the success of the cycle, the classroom should be an inclusive space where students feel safe to learn and experiment. As an instructor, I must have an attitude that promotes a welcoming and diverse environment. I continually adjust my curriculum to create a more open and respectful approach to discussion, development of ideas, and interactions for all participants. I believe supporting an inclusive and diverse classroom is an ongoing process, and that it is my responsibility to constantly explore the resources available to me, along with self-reflection and evaluation, to develop a productive and inclusive space for all students.
My goal as a teacher is to help students make artwork that effectively communicates the message or concept behind it. In my experience, no two students are the same and in order to be a successful teacher, I must always consider different learning and communication styles. I work to become familiar with students’ individual experiences and then draw connections or make adjustments whenever possible. I expect myself to be a good listener, and observant of student experiences in the classroom. I encourage students to achieve as much as or more than they see possible while I provide as much support as possible.