PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
Teaching is a complex calling. It is an important calling, a courageous calling. It is my calling. As an educator, I believe that all willing, young artists have the creativity, skill, and power to succeed. I believe that it is my responsibility to facilitate this success by defining the classroom environment, developing engaging curriculum, utilizing diverse instructional methods, guiding individual learning paths, and promoting professional practice opportunities. In my educational philosophy, developing the individual is as important as inspiring the artist.
DEFINING THE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT
I value traditional educational models emphasizing literature, research, writing, and studio assignments. Structure and deadlines are important parts of the growth and learning process. However, I also view the world as a classroom and encourage students to seek life experience beyond classroom walls. I believe the best artists and designers are well-rounded individuals with experience, knowledge, and expertise in outside disciplines. Effective education provides ample opportunities for learning in both traditional and non-traditional environments and allows for the pursuit of any and all types of knowledge. A classroom, of any sort, should be inviting and invigorating. It should be a comfortable place for students to push creative and intellectual boundaries.
DEVELOPING ENGAGING CURRICULUM
I believe that creative instruction should cover technical topics, presented in logical progression, and linked to both historical and contemporary references. I strive to develop a designer’s eye and an artist’s mind in each and every learner. Students should receive classroom lectures demonstrating artistic technique. Objectives for these lessons should include strengthening a student’s talent and pushing their abilities to new limits. A historical review of the discipline is necessary to understand the methodologies behind technical skills and should be included in each lesson. Likewise, effective curriculum will connect classroom topics to current events and solidify the material in contemporary culture. In addition to strengthening artistic technique, I believe that good curriculum should include training for a creative career. When writing a course syllabus, I incorporate lectures and assignments focused on practicing artistic skill, research projects reporting on artists of the past, class discussion of current events, and career worthy activities such as internships and job shadowing.
UTILIZING DIVERSE INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS
My instructional style is ridged yet fair. I believe this to be a highly profitable approach to successful teaching. I connect with students by utilizing combinations of verbal instruction, visual demonstration, supportive literature, and practical experience. For any one topic, I will discuss objectives in lecture format, show examples with visual aides, designate relevant reading or research, and arrange hands on laboratory or studio style opportunities. I engage students in multiple ways to accommodate differences in learning style and to reinforce lesson topics. I present specific topics first as individual units, then connect concepts as larger scale projects or practical learning experiences. I introduce a foundation of building blocks and present the challenge of connecting them together.
GUIDING INDIVIDUAL LEARNING PATHS
I provide flexibility in classroom evaluation. Each student experiences a unique life and learning situation. Some students might be exceedingly talented but poorly motivated. Some may exhibit highly studious behaviors, excelling with both attendance and assignment completion, yet lack artistic finesse. Others may have the desire to learn, but face unrelated challenges that effect their ability to do so. Thus, I choose to evaluate my curriculum on an additive scale. Students are rewarded for what they are able to do well, rather than penalized for substandard classroom efforts or poor project submissions. By utilizing an additive evaluation system, I level out the differences that students undoubtedly face.
PROMOTING PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES
I believe that learning by seeing and learning by doing are essential aspects of any career training, and imperative to that in the artistic disciplines. I choose to lead by example. I frequently share my own successes and failures to help students grow from my experiences. I keep myself informed of changes to industry standards, and keep a hand in the professional practice of my discipline as to never become stale in the instructional ability of such. I invite and encourage students to assist in my professional practice and that of other working artists, increasing their hands-on learning opportunities. Furthermore, I believe that it is an educator’s job to assist students with developing resumes, organizing portfolios, preparing auditions, and composing artist statements. I emphasize these tasks in course curriculum.
DEVELOPING THE INDIVIDUAL, INSPIRING THE ARTIST
In my teaching, I aim to develop the student as an individual just as much as I aim to inspire the student as an artist. I believe that students in any arts field should be immersed in all things creative and all things inspiring to artistic work. Technical lessons in painting, dance, theater, music, history, and literature are fundamental. Visitation and observation of museums, arts venues, galleries, performances, backstage and studio sneak peeks are essential. Interdisciplinary educational pursuits are invaluable. Students should be guided toward and exposed to as many inspirational opportunities as imaginable. An immersive creative education will transform students into artists. Yet, as is the truth with many educational tracks, not all successful learners will continue on professional paths in their chosen discipline. For this reason, I believe it is equally as important to lay an educational foundation that will reach beyond a learner’s student tenure to any journey that may lie ahead. Through my curriculum and instruction, I strive to develop the student as a communicator with strong written and verbal skills. I aspire to cultivate the student as an organizer, keeping consistency and pattern in life tasks and life environments. I seek to grow the student as a creative thinker, taking initiative and enterprise in one’s tasks. I work to sculpt the student as a collaborator, working well with others, both as a leader and a learner. I attempt to mold the student as an adaptable problem solver, quickly finding solutions to difficulties. I desire to shape the student as a self-manager, motivated by their own curiosities and ability to complete tasks at their own doing. I make an effort to encourage the student as a skillful learner, proficient in seeking knowledge and unknown answers to life’s questions. With these skills, a student can achieve to the fullest potential in any arena.
Teaching is a complex calling. It is an important calling, a courageous calling. It is my calling. I look forward to inspiring your students and advancing the educational atmosphere of your school.