Goal I: Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
Exhibit A – Lesson on Watercolor
Exhibit B – Reflections on Human Development from EDUC 550
Theorists – Bruner, Piaget
Courses: EDUC 550 and EDUC 505
Teaching is so much more than a job. The choice to teach is a way of life. Our students become our main focus and their success a tribute to a job well done, not only for them but also for the teachers. Our job is not really to teach but to assure learning and understanding occurs. How can we be sure what we are teaching is getting through? How do we know if we are effective? We must constantly assess, ask questions, listen, reflect, and strive to view the information through our student eyes. Until we see the “Aha!” moment visible on their faces, our job is not complete.
As with any goal, we must first know exactly what it is we wish to achieve and what goals we want our students to achieve before we know what and how to teach. I learned the method of backward design in EDUC 505 Instructional Theory. Backward design of unit and lesson plans teaches us to first determine exactly what we want the students to learn from the unit and then design the unit plan around the ultimate goal (McTighe & Wiggins, 2005). One example is my lesson plan on watercolor developed using backwards design beginning with the standards from the Missouri grade level expectations (see Exhibit A). When we determine exactly what it is we want the students to understand, we can backtrack to cover all of the necessary steps we must take in order to achieve understanding.
In addition to understanding how to cover the information, we also must know our students. Teaching high school students is different from any other age level. As I learned while enrolled in EDUC 550 Human Development. Students between the ages of 13 and 19 are experiencing many new stages of human development. There are many difficult and trying developmental milestones adolescents must pass through between these formative years. However, there is also an upside to this age. Piaget believed that the beginning of adolescence marked the entrance to the formal operation stage, during which young people are first capable of hypothetico-deductive reasoning (Berk, 2007). (see Exhibit B) As an effective practitioner, I think of this as an invaluable opportunity to teach my students how to use these new skills and perfect practice makes perfect. I tell my students repeatedly, “Creating a piece of artwork is about problem solving and being resourcefuleciding how to move what is in your mind onto the paper and express your ideas.” This process utilizes the new cognitive skills of deductive reasoning.
Teaching art effectively is unsuccessful without hands-on experience. It is not productive to learning for me to lecture about how to create the artwork. I start my lessons with a brief background on the type of artwork we are going to be creating, as well as show my students several examples of artwork and artists relevant to the lesson. I strive to not let this stretch beyond one class period. It’s imperative to get the tools in the students’ hands while their curiosity is sparked. As Bruner states of scaffolding instruction, “Where before there was a spectator, let there now be a participant” (Bruner, 1960).
Berk, L. (2007). Development through the lifespan. Boston. Allyn and Bacon.
Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University
McTighe, J., Wiggins, G., (2005). Understanding by design. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.