What Do Caravaggio and Seurat Have in Common?

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Over the past few weeks, I have just completed the 30 required observation/participation hours for this semester at the secondary level. That’s fancy talk for the 30 hours you must do during your fall term at your chosen high school where you will student teach in the spring. During these hours, it becomes an opportunity to really dive in and learn the ins and outs of the high school’s culture. You pick up on things and take notes on the style and personal quirks of the students, the type of outlook the staff has, and how the neighborhood effects the school.You spend a lot of time with your cooperating teacher and experience his or her teaching style, the pace at which your students learn and the school’s goals for curricula. I’m grateful to have a supportive cooperative teacher, who let me observe not only her classes, but also spend time with the other two art teachers at the high school. This gave me the benefit of seeing how three separate people’s teaching styles address the same population of students. Though their ideas of structure and classroom management are different, the two things they all had in common was using humor and showing interest in every individual.

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During these 30 hours as a teacher candidate, you must teach a lesson plan (some sort of art lesson) to one of your teacher’s classes as well as complete a teacher work sample (a document charting data proving that your students learned over the course of the art project). I was asked to teach the first steps of a conte crayon still life drawing. Honestly, I was pretty shocked at the level of skill and understanding that these students had and how much it related to undergraduate art classes. The teacher and I introduced Caravaggio, who was the master of chiaroscuro as well as Seurat who was known for his individual style of conte crayon mastery. Though still life may not be the favorite of many, I was really excited to share my love of drawing with students and I felt so useful!

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Though this art project was quite traditional, I believe my cooperating teacher does a great job of varying strictly formal projects with others that involve personal and social input. Students have access to great resources including monthly subscriptions to Art News and Art in America, computers reserved only for students and a really active National Art Honors Society.