Art Educator: From Beginner to Novice

Art Educator: From Beginner to Novice

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Wow, April is INSANE for me…but in a good way. I can envision the finish line as to what has been a whirlwind of a semester. I am in my fourth week of student teaching at the high school level out of seven weeks total. At this point, I am teaching all five of my classes, which touch on different disciplines: Drawing/Design 1 and 2, Painting, Ceramics and Art Studio and I’m working with three different teachers. This way, I am getting the full effect to feel and know what it means to be a suburban high school art teacher. With exposure to all different types of classes, I am able to get a better understanding of what students are capable of doing at an introductory level and how much time students need for a project; projects in a ceramics class must be planned and organized different than a drawing class for example. Also, because I am working with all three of the teachers in the art department, I am picking up on their styles of teaching, philosophies and pacing.

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My teachers have been great to offer a balance of help as well as freedom to help me develop my own teaching style. For certain projects I have been teaching what would generally come next in the unit, but I have had the option to use my own ideas as to how I would like to lecture, demonstrate and organize the classes. These became great moments to share the contemporary practices I have been learning through my classes at Columbia with my veteran teachers. One major challenge for me to improve upon has been estimating my timing for how long sections of a lesson will take. I have always ended up putting more into my lesson plan than I ever have time to address, but week by week, my accuracy has been increasing. I also have frequent glances at the clock to orientate myself as to where we are in the period. My cooperating high school has a block schedule, so classes are 90 minutes long and start at odd times, such as having a period begin at 9:23 a.m., so I’m always worried that I’m going to run out of time.

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Between prepping for classes, talking to students before and after class, cleaning up as well as teaching, one main important activity I have learned to revere is reflection. It’s so pivotal to take the time to reflect on how a class or an entire day went and analyze why things rolled out the way that they did. With being so busy and getting caught up in the schedule, reflecting can easily be forgotten. Reflection is needed for me if I ever want to get better at the craft of teaching. It offers me the time to record the successes and challenges of the day and think for the next time around of what I need to address with the students. There are so many things going around in your head while you teach that if you don’t take a moment to pause, all of the great ideas, changes and edits you made while teaching a lesson will be a blur and useless for application in the future.

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I hope this gives a tiny glimpse into my life right now, nearing the end of student teaching. My next blog will be documenting my last day at my cooperating high school! Hopefully by then I will have all of the students’ names down, well, close to all of them.