Greetings from the art world!
My initiative for teaching a new philosophy and different methodology, Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), was inspired originally by attending the National Arts Education Conference in New York City (March 2017). I attended a presentation about Samantha Varain’s MA thesis, Choosing Creatively: Choice-Based Art Education in an Inclusive Classroom. Ms. Varain’s research showed 100% engagement by students in a choice-based learning environment. When I attended the Northwest Arts Council workshop at EdAdvance (Spring 2017), the TAB model, which was originally founded in Massachusetts over 35 years ago and is a “nationally recognized education approach in teaching,” was also a top topic of discussion.
Through TAB, students experience authentic exploration and learning practices that are interest based. Centers may vary but often include: Drawing, Painting, Collage, Fiber Arts, Clay/Ceramics, Sculpture, and Printmaking. In the Region 6 elementary art classroom, an additional center may include Mixed Media, in which more than one material is used in the artmaking process. TAB aligns with the workshop model that promotes student-centered choice-based learning through centers in the art room. Choice-based art experiences support multiple intelligences and learning modalities, which in turn generate student engagement.
All elementary students are now on the journey of art center-based learning. Primary grades have more modeling and introduction to skills for the success of experimenting with various tools and materials, while the upper grades have more independence in designing and implementing an Art Project Plan. There is an openness and willingness to make mistakes and to be reflective of self and peers during the process and the final product. While one objective is to strive to develop Craft (quality work with use of materials), other objectives include: Engage and Persist, Envision, Express, Observe, Stretch and Explore, Understand the Art World, and Reflect. These Studio Habits of Mind objectives are credited to The Art of Education, which link directly to the TAB mindset.
Students have been unpacking centers by experimenting with tools and materials and generating artwork that does not necessarily look the same as everyone else’s. There may be times that students create a similar project to learn a new skill, but more often than not, the art experiences may be messy as a means of revising. The TAB journey allows for mistakes, revisions, and abandonment of a project (at times) to allow for authentic and real-world experiences.
As past practice, most 2D art projects will come home, as a collection, in a portfolio in early June. The portfolio allows for work to come home undamaged and to house a body of work throughout the academic year for displays, art shows, and assessment. Students will keep sketchbook journals to include drawings and reflections of their process.
There will be projects and/or practices in the trying out of tools and materials that come home from time to time, but the real journey will be in student exploration of projects of interest. Please do not hesitate to volunteer in the art room or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much.
Of note: Donations of materials such as magazines, newspapers, cardboard, egg cartons, etc. are always welcome.