Art is integral to the human experience and shapes us as much as we shape it. The creation process can be profoundly transformative and it is my hope that through the creation process, students will be better equipped to make life good for themselves and their communities. Art education is most successful when it can broaden students’ perspectives, exercise critical thinking, and provide students with the attitude that they have agency to shape the world around them. These are skills and dispositions that build connectedness and helps us to live rich and healthy lives.
The classroom environment plays a significant role in setting students up for success. From the moment students walk in the door I want them to feel as if they are in a new space—one that is inclusive and free from judgement as well as inspiring and transportive. My 7th-grade science teacher, who inspired me to want to one day teach, was a master at making his classes feel inspiring and transportive. A life-sized model of a Tyrannosaurus rex welcomed students into a classroom where caged iguanas, birds, and other animals as well as a toy train track hung from the ceiling. To add to the magic of this classroom, this teacher’s lessons always felt like a journey. I don’t think it's necessary to match the eccentricities of my 7th-grade science teacher, however, there is much art educators can learn from the element of imagination and creative play that was fostered in his classroom. The environment set in his classroom drew students into the lesson and broke down barriers of judgement so that everyone felt safe to contribute. My experience in his classroom has influenced how I make lessons today. In a lesson with first graders I turned a rug into a time machine and took students on an imaginary journey to the ice age while learning about paleoart. This lesson was a hit because students became absorbed in the imaginative journey and were fully engaged in creative thinking.
A classroom environment cannot be successful without an inclusive attitude from both the teacher and each and every student. When every student is invited into the classroom community and negative judgements are not tolerated, true creativity can thrive. It is vital that every student feels safe to express every facet of their subjective realities and creative ideas.
Art is all about bringing out the best in ourselves and enriching our personal and social experiences. Art educators have a lot of responsibility because there is so much to be gained from shaping and being shaped by art. When an art educator can create an inclusive and inspiring classroom environment, perspectives can be broadened, minds can be challenged, and a sense of agency can be gained. Good art education helps humanity to flourish.
The art classroom is a place where students explore their creativity and make significant discoveries about themselves and the world around them. There are many barriers that can inhibit creativity and diminish the potential for growth, therefore it is vital that students feel they are in a safe space while they are in the art classroom. The teacher must consider the physical space, their own personality, and structures for rules and rituals in order to create an optimal environment for learning.
My personal studio space is organized and free from clutter, has large areas dedicated as work space, and is decorated with fashionable furniture and other inspiring decor like model dinosaurs. These are all qualities that also produce a productive environment in the art classroom. A studio is a sacred space and should promote a creative mindset. A studio that is organized is welcoming and instantly reflects qualities of mindfulness and care. This is an atmosphere that not only provides a calm state of mind, but also forecasts expectations of how students should expect to be treated and how they should treat others. The organization and decor of a space can inspire creativity by letting students know they are in a safe space where they can freely stretch and explore.
The teacher’s personality is the most important component for setting a positive and safe environment. I believe a teacher should have a calm and warm presence and be a reliable source of help for students in all relevant capacities. Students face many challenges, and a good teacher should always approach a student in need with empathy and put considerable thought and care into working out a solution with them. When students recognize that a teacher is truly devoted to their needs they are more likely to commit themselves to upholding the goals and climate that the teacher advocates in their classroom.
Building a community also helps construct an environment where students can enter a mental space where they are ready to learn. Promoting positive behaviors is one step toward accomplishing that. The behavior of students can make or break the success of a classroom and the connections students make with each other and their mentors. Posting clearly stated expectations and consequences can point students in the right direction for cultivating such an environment. In addition, regularly implementing activities where students share their personal identities and reflect upon one another’s perspectives can help students to feel connected on a more personal level. Expressing and sharing are inherent in the art process as artworks are created and exhibited. Through this process, students gain self and social awareness and build a stronger bond with one another.
In all circumstances, the teacher should be consistent and equitable in their treatment of students. A community can only be built if all members know that every facet of their subjective realities are appreciated and welcomed into the classroom community. The teacher can cultivate an inclusive attitude by being an example and making an effort to ensure that every student is cared for, celebrated, and welcomed to participate in group activities. In addition, creating lessons that feature diverse artists and artworks can help each student to feel represented and create a more inclusive and equitable atmosphere.
There are many components a teacher must consider in order to create an atmosphere where students can enter a mental space where they are able to learn. The environment must be well managed, both in the physical space and in the structures for rules and rituals. The attitudes of both the teacher and the students must be inclusive and free from judgment. When consideration and care is taken to cultivate a positive classroom environment, barriers can be broken down and meaningful learning can take place.
Classroom Management Plan