Every year at this time, just a few days away from the start of the year, I get reflective and introspective. I'm thinking about, as always, what I want my kids to learn and also about what the value of an arts education is. Here's what's on my mind.
Goals for The Year
1. Build an understanding that art is powerful and relevant.
I want to expose my students to art that will expand their world view and extend their thinking. I want to challenge their understanding about what art can be. To do this I'll show lots of current, working artists and find a diverse body of work that reflects an inclusive view of who can make art.
2. Work toward creating personally expressive work.
I believe that communicating meaningful ideas is something all kids are capable of. My role in supporting this is setting students up for success by directly teaching creative thinking. Another key aspect is selecting themes that ask for examining big ideas. In the past I've seen good results with themes like "identity" and "current issues". This year I want to try "freedom" and ask students to look both at what freedom is to them and who lacks it in our society.
3. Make art fun.
You shouldn't have to be one of the top artists in the class to enjoy art or to get an A. In fact, some of the people who my class holds the most power for are those who enrolled to get their arts requirement out of the way. I want all my students to see that art is welcoming and inclusive. I want them all to be successful. We, as art teachers, can't complain about our programs not being valued or funded if we also complain about the ability level of students placed in our classes. It's valuable and necessary for everyone.
So, you want to go TAB? First of all, that’s awesome. I’m a huge proponent of TAB because I feel like it revolutionized and revitalized my teaching practice. It stayed with me, with some major changes, when I made the jump from a high-needs elementary school to a high-performing high school. It’s that flexible and it works wonderfully in both those diverse settings, as well as the space in between. However, it’s very different than many teaching methods, which brings me to why I’m writing today.
There is no lesson plan for TAB, although this is a good way to write one. TAB is first and foremost a paradigm shift. Let me explain. So much of art education is product based. It’s the way I was taught - you start with what the kids are making, or at least the supplies they’re using, and build from there. You are literally teaching them to make a product, step by step.
TAB is different. Yes, there is a product and also teaching and planning. It’s just that the product is not the starting point.
The concept is the starting point.
TAB, or Teaching for Artistic Behavior, is all about making artists, not about making products. The concept might be a theme or an Artistic Behavior or a Studio Habit. That is where your planning starts - with what you want them to know, not what they will physically do. There is more that one way to do this - see here, here and here. To decide how TAB will best work for your students read and study but most of all think about what they need to know to be artists.
Have a great school year!!!!
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.