My classroom is open, supportive, and inclusive. I begin the semester with a “community agreement” exercise in which students write about their most positive and negative learning experiences and how they will contribute to the classroom community. We create a list of values like “treat others the way you want to be treated, be accountable for the impact of your words and actions, maintain self-care and prepare for each session to avoid feeling stressed and overwhelmed”. During the course, students build agency through written and verbal assessment of the work of their peers as well as their own. I implement collaborative projects and small group peer feedback sessions to foster flexibility/adaptiveness and meaningful face to face social connections. Students learn the importance of peer relationships, preparedness, self-reliance, and taking responsibility for their own success.
I help students achieve their goals by challenging them to think deeply, stay curious, and do their best work. I meet students where they are along their individual pathways and refine my teaching through student-centered feedback. My assignments support the different ways students learn by offering incremental challenges through the creative process. For example, in 3D Design and Sculpture I they begin with creative brainstorming, drawing, visual research, constructing maquettes, and testing materials before moving on to larger projects. It is demanding yet incredibly rewarding teaching to drastically different levels of exposure to art, comprehension of complex concepts, and technical abilities. I hold myself to a high standard of meeting the challenges through adaptation, flexible strategies, and patience.
I approach teaching with the idea of ‘goal-oriented play’. Human ‘play’ behaviors, like building sandcastles or in organized games, are similar to art making behaviors. There is no real survival need to make art yet is an integral aspect of being human. In the classroom, I balance playful activities with structure by providing a framework for the creative process of wildly imagining something new into existence through setting goals, planning, hard work, risk-taking, learning from mistakes, and finding solutions. While my assignments are clearly defined, I leave room for revision, spontaneity, and ‘learning by doing’. It is important to me that each student feels supported to test ideas, fail, and try again.
I inspire students to think in three-dimensional terms by examining our nuanced and complex relationships to architectural, social, and environmental space. I ask “what are we making?”, “how are we making?” and “why is it important?”. Materials range from paper and recycled cardboard to wood, plaster, clay, plastics, small metals, found object assemblage, and soft sculpture materials. In my Space and Materiality and Integrated Design courses, digital tools include drawing/collage with photoshop/illustrator and 3D modeling with Fusion 360. I am fascinated by the next generation’s relationship to both traditional and emerging technologies.
In art historical and contemporary art presentations, I reference the work of women, minorities, non-western traditions, and bring in content from popular culture that is relatable to students lives. I find opportunities for learning outside of the classroom such as field trips to museums, galleries, and public spaces, as well as to artists studios. Students connect to the world at large through sketchbook observations and reflections on sensory experience. For example, a “monument” project requires students to scout a location in person and write extensively about their phenomenological experience before designing a new monument. Through classroom community, intellectual curiosity, playfulness, self-reflectiveness, and conscientious interactions with objects and space, I prepare critical thinkers to enter the world as responsible creative citizens.