What does good teaching (artist work) look like?

While browsing the shelves at Mercer Street Books, I found an intriguing book for teaching artists which I can’t wait to share with my department.  There are so many useful ideas in the book but to start I wanted to share with you some observations about what good teaching artist work looks like:

Students were making something that seemed important to them.

This is something I’ve been working on for years, finding ways to create projects that don’t end up in the trash, that have meaning for my students.  Ideally, I would love to move towards a TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) model in my room where the students generate the projects but for now, I try to listen for clues from my students by facilitating dialogue to find out what is important to them.  I’ve used free-writing prompts and quotes to generate ideas but it’s still a daily struggle for me.

The teaching artist seemed to relate to the students as artists.

This is so important!  The students need autonomy as artists, they need space and freedom to make decisions on their own.  Sometimes I catch myself lurking around students and I have to stop myself from intervening so much. I think it’s easy to think that if you are not saying anything then you are not doing your job.

The students seemed to relate to the teaching artist as an artist.

I’ve started this thing where I sometimes work alongside them.  I have my own projects and I also ask for feedback from my students.  This works well with my AP students.  I think they really enjoy helping me.

The students were working as intentional and conscious artists, and were enjoying it.

The last part is key! There are times when we struggle to make art but the larger feeling should be one of enjoyment.


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