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Former high school art teacher near Omaha, 2015 art teacher of the year in Nebraska
Always loved art, took art classes when he was young, wanted to go to art school when he was young but decided to teach because his second passion was in teaching, and wanted to combine those. Studied at the University of Iowa. First experience in classroom was at the alternative center. Enjoyed working with at risk kids.
Taught elementary art, traveled to different buildings to get art to as many kids as possible. /taught high school, then worked part time for Art of Ed, now full time for Art of Ed, professional development for art teachers, podcasting, teaching, writing, etc. to promote art and art education.
Loves to paint and draw with colored pencil, photo realist with colored pencils, enjoys large abstract paintings and detailed, time consuming things. As a parent that is difficult to find the time, but does it when he can.
It’s about building relationships with the kids. Kids are generally interested in art because it’s something that’s out of the ordinary and they come in excited. Kids are happy to be there and look forward to that class. You need to do those things to build those relationships. When you can help them feel appreciated, then they respond well. For me, art is a good way to do that and to get that started. It’s always being about kids being a part of that experience and enjoying that environment and building those core relationships.
Art gets overlooked because so many people think of it as something extra or frivolous, it can’t be tested. Principals and lawmakers don’t deal well with that ambiguity. When you don’t have those defined outcomes it can be tough to validate what’s going on in the art room. Because of that I think it’s not as valued. My goal is showing how valuable those skill are. When I travel around, we try and promote those ideas of – these kids need these problem solving skills. These are the skills kids are going to need in the future. I feel like the tide is shifting a little bit, and people are starting to see the good the arts can do.
Yesterday I was at the state capital talking to state senators about the importance of art. There are studies done that show that kids involved in art have higher test scores, they are happier, you have to dig a little deeper. If you can look at those kids who participate in art, or performing arts, they score higher on tests. The arts improve that, and education scores across the board along with all of those additional skills. We can point to data but it’s a matter of trying to get the word out there about what the arts can do.
I think the benefit is from the mechanics of art. It takes work, it takes effort to create good art. We have to stick with things. You see growth mindset so often in the art room. In everything we are doing, we embrace the process of going back and rework, think about things a different way. They need to accept and embrace criticism, accept feedback, make their work better. If we can get our kids familiar with that process and that mindset, it transfers over to other subjects, and they can apply it anywhere and they’re going to be successful in anything they do. The things that you naturally do with art, help make you successful in other areas. Hopefully they can transfer what they are doing in the art room to other areas as well.
We get that a lot- kids who think they aren’t good artists. I say, that’s fine, I will teach you how to draw. It’s vitally important to teach that with enough work and enough effort, they will be successful. Everyone has a different skill set, a different level of talent. I think it is getting kids into that growth mindset; with enough effort they will be successful.
I think the biggest thing is looking for the right kinds of inspiration. I’m not on Pinterest. I think there’s a little danger in finding projects where everything is going to turn out the same. I like open-ended projects, where kids bring their own experience to the project. We focus on giving students choice and voice. What they’re going to create and how they’re going to create it. The biggest things that we need to do is find open ended ideas where kids can give their voice and we give them choices on how to express that. Some teachers run a very open art room, where kids are making all the decisions. As long as there is some opportunity for choice and voice, kids will be successful.
That’s one of the most powerful things about art- kids feel a part of something bigger. If they want to be included and feel successful. The best way to do that is hanging up art and each person has their own take on that same idea. That shows kids that their voice is valued.
Most of what we do is specific to art teachers, but plenty for classroom teachers.
I host the art ed radio podcast, you can find it at artedradio.com