When students enter the art room, they bring more than their creative selves. A student brings personal experience, opinions, background, beliefs, culture, language, and distinctly unique abilities. Great educators support and honor the whole student. A multicultural curriculum and the inclusion of counternarratives allow for deeper connections to be made in the art room. I will introduce students to inclusionary curricula and artists with whom they share stories. Honoring goes beyond respect; it demands that we, as teachers, validate and show appreciation for what our students bring to the classroom. The work we do in the art room is for them and when the students come first, everything else falls into place.
I believe in a student-centered classroom that enables students to make personal connections, practice self-expression through art, problem-solve, think creatively, and make meaningful work. Student-centered art rooms create an environment in which students are fully engaged. When art educators develop student-centered lessons for and about their students, students can discover who they are and use their personal experiences to guide learning. Art educators gain more knowledge about their individual students and can be better responsive to students’ needs. This opens up a dialogue and we must seize the opportunity to continue the conversation. As an art educator, I will remain flexible in order to embrace new, challenging, and unexpected conversations with my students.
I believe that art is about connections. Education hinges on empathic connections between student and teacher. When these connections are made the priority, we create a foundation upon which learning is possible. These connections are the key to a safe, open, and loving learning environment.