“The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or debates in congress.” --Hendrik Willem van Loon
I believe that the classroom is a place where students learn to push the boundaries of how they view and experience the world and art is a vehicle for making sense of world. Art education is vital to society's understanding of the past, and the recording and confrontation of our present culture and society. An understanding and appreciation of the arts will lead to a richer enjoyment, greater comprehension, and deeper reflection of life. Art education promotes fluency in a global language for a globalized world.
These beliefs lead me to always consider the following three tenants when I approach my task as an educator: I believe students must be encouraged to exercise their position as active, self-directed and reflective learners; I believe content must be relevant and applicable for students of the 21st Century; and I believe interdisciplinary curriculum and collaboration foster creativity and the innovation necessary for students to succeed in our globalized world and communities.
Like John Dewey, I believe teachers serve as facilitators of experiential learning, helping to identify learning experiences for students.
As a facilitator of learning, I believe students must be able to experiment, take risks, collaborate, have opportunities for self and peer-evaluation, and be provided time for reflection. Schools must foster classroom environments that are engaging, safe, supportive, and that promote open inquiry (Jensen, 2005).
I believe that students should be active participants in their own learning—not just passive receptors of information. I strive to help students develop as self-directed and reflective learners. The most successful learning experiences occur when students actively bring their individual skills, interests, culture, and personal experiences to the classroom. When students share their unique viewpoints and are provided the opportunity to let their strengths shine, they are enabled to build a supportive classroom community, helping to teach and learn from one another.
It is our differences that unite us in combining our diverse skills to achieve together, what we could not achieve alone. Developing this awareness helps us to understand our places of responsibility in our various vocations as employee, family member, community member, and as civic activists (Veith, 2002).
I believe that teaching metacognition is essential for optimal, active learning as students think about how they learn. When students know how they learn, they can discover learning strategies that work best for them, allocate their time and resources, set goals, recall background knowledge, and evaluate their own learning to become self-regulated learners. In terms of the human brain, Daniel Pink insists that we “learn how it works before we learn how to work it” (Pink, p. 4, 2006).
I teach metacognitive strategies by monitoring students’ thinking and progress through their process and work, adapting lessons as needed, connecting new information to former knowledge, and by helping students to deliberately select personal metacognitive strategies. I engage students in open-ended questioning, classroom discussions, respectful classroom debates, group projects, experiments, and the documentation of the creative process to encourage students to think about and evaluate the information they are learning.
I believe that successful teaching for successful learning involves teaching not just traditional curriculum—elements and principles of design, art production, art history, art analysis—but also showing students how to learn. Once students are in the process of developing background knowledge, which serves as a platform and base for future learning and discoveries, I then teach students to think about and evaluate the information they have learned.
My art lessons present situations for engaging critical thinking skills through experiential learning. The goal in my classroom is to offer students the opportunity to gain skills they can use in the future. In my experience working with a student who was not necessarily interested in making art, the student was still able to develop other aspects of artistic appreciation or application of the creative process in order to view, think about, interpret and ultimately make sense of the world. Using the process of art analysis, I teach students not just about producing and interpreting art, but I also focus on students developing empathy, skills they need to think critically, and I provide the tools they need to be innovative in creating multiple solutions to problems.
Creativity and critical thinking are skills students will carry across classroom disciplines and into the world. More importantly, these skills help students learn how to be adaptive and resourceful in our constantly changing, globalized world. I use art to facilitate the development of innovative thinkers who are successful problem-solvers, collaborators, and communicators who are globally competent and self-reflective.
Students must learn how to process and use information to make it adaptable to all areas of life. Puentedura quotes Richard Skemp’s words, “relational understanding is primary (the how and why)”. Jen Roberts' (@jenroberts1) TECH model for redefinition (Schrock, 2015) promotes student interest as developing and driving intrinsic student motivation and along with choice and teacher guidance it benefits student learning. It fosters ownership because students are engaged and are making content applicable to their own interests and future goals. As Puentedura mentioned, it makes learning more tangible and applicable to a real-world use.
I believe in teaching beyond ideas and facts so that students are capable of applying knowledge and skills to real-life situations (Hidden Curriculum, 2014). Digital technology is an integral part of the education system's role in providing students with relevant skills for an ever-changing economy (Selwyn, 2011). This also means we must model the safe and ethical use of digital information (ISTE Standards Teachers, 2008).
I follow the SAMR Model (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) in combination with Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure students engage in higher order thinking skills when using digital technology. I modify original tasks to involve another element of learning to redefine the learning process in ways that were previously inconceivable. I use SAMR to evaluate my use of technology. SAMR helps me to “define tasks that target higher order thinking skills, engage students in rich learning experiences, and impact student achievement” (Common Sense Media, n.d.).
Instruction should match students. As classrooms become more diverse, educators must teach to classrooms of individual learners. While I set the same rigorous standards for each student, I use differentiated instruction to offer appropriately challenging, varied options for students to receive class content, process it, and present the product of their learning (Gregory & Chapman, 2007).
I enjoy learning about my students and discovering their unique passions. I help students learn how to make the course content relevant to their personal interests and future goals by modeling how to find the connections between the topic and student interests.
I believe in interdisciplinary curriculum & collaboration to foster creativity.
I believe interdisciplinary curriculum is beneficial, helping students make broad connections across disciplines. Students learn to use the cognitive skills developed in one class and apply those skills to another class or situation, building strong mental connections. Additionally, when teachers work together towards a common goal, they model healthy teamwork and workplace communication for their students.
When imagination is met with deep and broad knowledge, practiced skill, and grit, students are positioned to think creatively. I believe creative, innovative ideas paired with compassion result in self-worth, intrinsic motivation, and a desire to continue providing something novel and of value to the world.
Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Introduction to the SAMR model [Video file]. Retrieved from
Gregory, G., & Chapman, C. (2007). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn't fit all (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from
ISTE Standards Teachers. (2008). Retrieved July 4, 2015, from
Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Pink, D.H. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Berkley Publishing Group.
Puentedura, R. (2013). The SAMR ladder: Questions and transitions. Retrieved from
Schrock, K. (2015, April 25). SAMR and Bloom's. Retrieved from
Selwyn, N. (2011). Education and technology: Key issues and debates. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
Veith, G. (2002). God at work: Your Christian vocation in all of life. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
I believe a teacher is a facilitator of active learners.
I believe the content must be relevant & applicable.
I believe in interdisciplinary curriculum & collaboration to foster creativity.