So, how do I keep myself updated? A balanced approach towards my professional and personal wellbeing is what helped me grow and improve as a person and as a teacher. The path to self-improvement though is not a fixed one; it is different for each of us. These experiences worked for me as an art educator, hopefully some will work for you too.
Retain your excitement and know your passions
To incorporate passion into your teaching, you must be able to retain your excitement. I started this practice during COVID – recollecting successful teaching moments, events, and activities; this gave me the fuel to take on fresh challenges and walk that extra mile. Remember the excitement, because that is what will help you stay motivated and transfer to your students as fuel to ignite their passion.
From a gym enthusiast, to a passionate cyclist, to a biker, my journey to learn and follow my passions helped me overcome hurdles in my profession as well, so take time out to do what you like.
Be part of peer communities
Being part of the community of art educators, practising artists, art collectors and appreciators has helped me brush up on pedagogy to stay relevant. Being a teacher has also provided me with the insight and perspective to broaden my vision, challenge assumptions, and uncover new opportunities and trends. Furthermore, teaching has helped me develop confidence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence to enhance communication, collaboration, and leadership abilities.
Change and evolution require self-awareness. I keep a checklist and make notes of what worked well and how simple modifications can help me perform better. Detecting that something is wrong is the first step towards improvement. I determine what areas of my teaching need the most attention. Before setting up goals or planning and executing my curriculum, I keep in mind my strengths and weaknesses and see how I can create the best learning environment for my students. I challenge myself with some key areas of growth every year and commit to them.
This has been a key element to my lessons and helped me grow as a facilitator. Teaching is especially demanding and consistently changing, so being able to respond effectively to an uncertain environment is widely considered an essential ability. I communicate regularly with my students with special abilities to understand their diverse learning needs and sometimes keep my lessons open-ended so that I can handle unexpected situations in the classroom and make changes according to the need. Being able to adjust to new conditions reduces stress and anxiety, and as a result, contributes to the educator’s well-being.
As I have mentioned earlier, classrooms are unpredictable environments, and consequently one of the many tasks of the teachers is organizing and preparing for what might come up unexpectedly.
Generally, organized educators promote effective learning environments, which will benefit the students. When my classroom runs smoothly and efficiently, that orderly atmosphere contributes to an efficient transfer of knowledge.
Moreover, planning provides a comforting sense of control to me, I feel more confident in my methods and strategies. That is, advanced preparation allows me to consider the possible consequences of what may happen in the classroom. And because of this careful planning, I can avoid overwhelming and stressful situations, which could negatively affect learners’ performance in the class.
Visual art lessons require innovation, imagination, and creativity.
Am I an innovative teacher?
• I can think in unique ways to make learning significant and fun.
• I am willing to try new strategies and techniques to achieve students’ academic success.
• I can identify potential student struggles and challenges (loss of interest or focus, lack of understanding, low engagement, demotivation).
• I can find new ways of motivating and encouraging students to successfully meet their objectives.
• I can focus on improving their performance in class.
• I can teach students to question and help them become critical thinkers.
• I can encourage students to take artistic risks.
• I can promote collaborative work.
Finding humour in daily tasks can be the greatest form of art practice. This helps in building relationships with learners. Relationships build trust, which adds to the comfort levels and enables risk taking in learners. When learners are not afraid to try new things, it builds their confidence which is imperative to a successful visual art lesson. Most importantly, it builds strong individuals with strong problem-solving skills who will become successful contributors to society.
Build an idea bank
An idea bank has always helped me during those days when I am out of creative ideas. I devote a few hours every day to updating myself about new ideas, skills, materials, and products and how these can be incorporated into my teaching practice. This idea bank is a resource from which I just keep mining. Keep collecting and researching, it adds to your learning.
In conclusion, I can say that when a teacher is versatile and willing to develop their craft, they bring into the classroom a flexible learning atmosphere that fosters students’ motivation and engagement.
The author is a specialist educator in the visual arts in Pathways school, Noida. She has been teaching for nearly a decade now and has experience teaching in both urban and rural settings. She can be reached at email@example.com.