I work harder to create classroom structures, routines, and management.
When I was a DBAE (Discipline-Based Art Education) teacher, creating and prepping for lessons was incredibly easy. It was a recipe. I set up all the materials for my students and steps were pre-planned. The lesson objective was centered around an element of art, technique, artist, or art movement. The lesson objective was met by my students creating with only the materials provided to them. For example: If I wanted my students to know warm colors, I only left warm colors in the table boxes for them to use. Because, it was easier! Did my students truly know the difference between warm and cool colors? Nope. They knew how to follow the recipe I presented before them.
My classroom was a factory with disengaged minds.
When I made the transition to TAB I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. I remember having moments of feeling defeated. I felt that I have failed with lesson plans, classroom set-up, assessment, etc. It was being a new teacher all over again! But my students kept me going. They had a spark of excitement when they came to class. They were no longer robots moving through the motions of recreating a work of art.
I realized that I had to become an expert at teaching my students how to work in the studio. This included making routines and structures. I also learned that I had to create lesson plans that encompassed all types of artist and apply to everyone in the studio. (I found the Studio Habits are amazing for this!)
When my assistant principal was conducting my end-of-year evaluation, we had a meaningful conversation about my classroom environment. She has observed my classroom and the transition to TAB over the past eight years. She has a very good understanding of what my classroom is.
Colorado’s teacher evaluations consist of a rubric with four standards. To obtain a higher score, the observer will have to see what the students are doing. I feel like I am at an advantage with this rubric because of my learner-driven environment. I asked my assistant principal
if she thought I can score higher because my classroom is student-directed. She replied that my classroom is the way it is because of ME.
(Here is a snippet of the Colorado Teacher Rubric)
This got me to thinking…what does it mean to be a TAB teacher?
First and foremost, remember that Teaching for Artistic Behaviors is a philosophy. It consists of three sentences: 1) What do artists do? 2) The child is the artist. 3) The classroom is the child’s studio.
I believe that the student is the artist. I try my best to push aside my personal aesthetic and ideas to honor the students’ ideas, aesthetics, and style.
I admire my students’ process and guide them along the art making journey.
But…this does not mean that I am always in full choice mode. I believe in maintaining a classroom with good management. I know that works best with a gradual release idea when opening the studio for my students. (And, occasionally, I do have those things that I need to do for assessments or the school.)