Above all else, I believe the most important part of being a teacher is connecting with students. While I understand the need for practices such as lectures and note-taking, I prefer to leave plenty of space for students to make art, discuss it with their peers, and think critically about the process.
I strive to provide students with time to discuss their work with me one-on-one, to ask questions, to seek advice from their classmates, and to deeply engage with their art. This time to create and think together allows students to build community amongst themselves and with me.
Ideally, this engagement will also lead to deeper and more constructive criticism that will help students to create work that is more conceptually effective and more technically accurate. This will help students to grow as problem solvers, thinkers, artists, and scholars.
I would base my ideal arts class around a few inspirational guidelines, such as technical concepts or the works of a famous artist. I believe students can and will make more diverse work that better reflects their experience if they are given more open-ended assignments.
While creating very particular, specific assignments with detailed rules and restrictions can prove students’ understanding of concepts and techniques, more open-ended assignments allow them to create art that is more meaningful for their own identity formation. It also gives them an opportunity to think creatively to fulfill assignments in original ways.
I believe that producing work is often the best way to prove that students understand how to execute technical skills.
For students who are passionate about the arts, written assessments may not always be a fair way to determine their proficiency. Examining their work for technical accuracy, and considering their explanations of their work’s intent and execution can lead to more effective evaluations of their understanding of core concepts.
That said, I utilize a variety of assessment styles, including tests and written assignments. These methods of evaluation can be particularly effective for those who are new to the arts. They can therefore demonstrate their understanding of technique and conceptual material before they’ve mastered the practice of those skills.