Here at Rush City High School I, as a teacher in the art classroom have developed my way of doing things. However I am also a lifelong learner and growing alongside the students. I would say that my teaching combines in part both elements of assertive discipline, which was coined by Lee Canter, and choice theory, which is a student-centered approach by William Glasser. I also try to incorporate some of the things Jacob Kounin's terms cover.
In Jacob Kounin's philosophy it's very important to avoid boredom in students and I do my best to that end. I try very hard to keep a smooth flow going within the classroom weather we're in a demonstration, tour, or lesson. As a teacher it's important to have those "eyes in the back of your head" going. If students are misbehaving I deal with it promptly, firmly, and fairly.
While assertive discipline sounds a little scary it's really not. It is simply the right of the teacher to define and enforce standarts of behavior. I say that my teaching is a mix between these two teaching philosophers because while I lay the groundwork for standards of behavior and most certainly ensure that they are kept, the students are able to help make the rules that they follow to a degree which incorporates Glasser's methods. Assertive discipline allows students to feel safe and secure in their classroom environment, along with helping them build and expand on their best traits and abilities. I am clear and firm about what is expected from the students and I promise to follow the guidelines that are set down. I care a lot about my students and wish to establish the best learning environment possible for their growth. In my personal experience when students feel that they are respected and valued members of a community that is encouraging and positive, they strive to grow and do well.
In my classroom students are asked to do their best. They are given opportunities to evaluate their own work and to improve upon it as well. At RCHS we try to show students constructive ways to show their feelings and thoughts through art. I strive in this class to assign useful work that will be applicable in many ways. With almost every project the use of decision making processes, revision, and critical thinking are emphasized.
As far as my approach to grading goes it's rather simple. Due to the fact that these students are still in the development process of their artistic and scholastic abilities we have a basic points system. Students are presented with the expectations for a project before we begin. When they hand the project in I go through the list of expectations, students that put forth effort and take time on projects and assignments typically do very well. I do insist that students at least try all of the different methods we explore in class.
According to Glasser's choice theory students have needs such as love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. In this classroom students are empowered through the opportunities given them to voice thier comments questions and ideas in each project. We have the opportunity for several jobs during clean-up times in our classroom. All of the students are invited to be responsible to clean-up after themselves. These jobs let the students take active and responsible roles within the classroom. It also puts some of the control into thier hands. They are very good at rising to the occasion. With a majority of our projects, students have many choices to make about colors, arrangements, patterns, shapes etc. They are given opportunities to be unique and to have fun through each piece that they create. I am always willing to listen to my students and get their input on what we do. I use my best discretion in implementing some of their ideas. During our artist project students are allowed to choose an artist and research them using scholarly sources.
To facilitate belonging in our classroom we create portfolios and at the beginning of the year. I also arrange the seating chart in a way so as to introduce students to new friends. It is so much easier to feel comfortable in a group of people one knows rather than strangers. We do our best in the art room to intrinsically motivate students so their impetus for doing class work and enjoying it comes from the inside, instead of being motivated by grades or products. While not everyone is an art lover, we can all develop an appreciation and comfort with the materials and concepts therein. It is also important to become familiar with artists in the contemporary field and throughout history so that we may understand ourselves in context. In addition we can develop a sense of craftsmanship with the right attitude. All children are artists, we may have some varying in abilities but that is fine. Not even the best of artists can say that they are amazing at all aspects of art immediately. In our classroom we work to be positive and encouraging.
In my classroom we strive to touch on the sensory-motor, affective, and cognitive domains. This allows for students to learn using all sorts of different stimuli. We play music during some of our work time and sometimes it is silent so that students can focus on the feel of the material they are using. We talk about how our works make us feel, and the processes that are required to make them. Students are often required to write up artist's statements to describe the process and decisions they made during a given project. From time to time we discuss the more technical aspects of art such as the elements and principles of design, as well as art history aspects that contribute to our designs.
In our classroom we try to foster a lead management style where we create the rules together. For example this year our pre-set rules were be respectful, be responsible, be safe. The rules posted on the page on this website are examples of what expectations are. In other words I manage the classroom as a leader not a dictator. As a teacher, I strive to create a warm supportive environment for learning, and I know the general body of students and staff here at Rush City High School do so as well. I pay special attention to the dynamics of our small group tables. If there are problems in the small group we have a "focus area" for those students unable to work well in the small group setting. This is a room set off to the side where they are able to sit and work independently. I believe that the things we do are direct result of the choices that we make either consciously or unconsciously. The choices that are made in the art room are reinforced on a regular basis, good choices are reinforced positively and poor choices receive consequences. I continually remind students that they have choices as to their work and behavior.
It is my hope that our classroom is a responsive and positive learning environment for the students that come through. I believe that they should feel encouraged and nurtured as they grow in their abilities and interests within the realm of the arts. Our classroom is laid out differently than most other rooms in the building and that is simply because our activities require a different set up. We do different things in our art room than we'd do in a math room. We have 12 rectangle tables in the room with 2-3 students around each. This allows the students to have adequate working space. This also allows for room around the tables for students and myself to get around the tables as needed for monitoring progress, gathering supplies, clean up, and manipulation of materials within projects.
Students are engaged in active learning in this classroom. Students are not simply passive beings that are expected to absorb information and therefore learn. We in this classroom explore and create, as well as search for what we wish to know. Our classroom is decorated with the colorful and creative projects done by student artists from this and preceding years, as well as posters describing the elements and principles of art. We also have a set of posters describing careers available that have to do with the arts or being creative. The hallways and display case in the commons often show off the talent we have here at RCHS. We like to display the work of our artists when possible.
A Special opportunity that has come up this year is designing the logo for the music boosters, pep-band, and choirs. Mrs. Holmstrom (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will review the submissions and narrow it down to a few that show promise. After that students in the organizations mentioned will vote on the selections. The winning submission will receive a free t-shirt and be recognized at the Spring Pops Concert