Teaching Philosophy

︎Elanna Honan

As an art teacher, I hope to generate an outlet for students of all ages to tap into their inherent ability to express themselves creatively. My teaching practice is centered around open-ended but structured activities intended to constantly validate the students’ explorations of their own experiences. Students in my classroom will feel safe and supported throughout their artistic exploration and will leave my classroom each day with a better understanding of themselves, their creative abilities, and their role within the community. As Susan Stinson writes,

I am reminded how important it is for young children to see themselves as creators, as makers, as inventors--give young children many opportunities to be creators: to make their own shapes (not just imitate mine). As they become more skilled, they take on greater responsibility for creation. At this point, children are not only making choices within structures I provide, but actually creating the structures (Stinson, S. 2002.)

One of the unique aspects of an art curriculum is that there are no wrong answers or single ways of executing a task. I will emphasize to my students that their work is not supposed to look a certain way, or replicate a teacher’s or another artist's work. Instead, I hope to foster children’s ability to tap into their problem-solving skills and engage with their creative state of flow where students feel most self-aware and validated of their personal experiences.

I believe that the art classroom can be a place where the most important life-long lessons are internalized. Students will have the chance to engage with their creative-thinking side which will aid them throughout their life as a successful functioning adult within society. Students should be given many opportunities to discover the importance of being skillful and saying, “I did it!” Art should be about exploration not imitation. My job is not to generate hundreds of artistic masters, but instead to create deep thinkers, empathetic listeners, fascinating storytellers, and engaged observers who will have the ability to always navigate problems creatively.

In my teaching, I intend to engage students in my lessons with meaningful hooks and important messages that they will return home to their families at the end of the day and be excited to share what they have learned or created. While feeling connected to the work, students will also feel connected to their peers. As art emphasizes individuality it also emphasizes the importance of being part of a larger community. Artwork should be a container for an important life experience that extends beyond one’s self and aesthetics. The take-aways from the lesson should be more than an afterthought and will root a learner in their individual experiences within the greater community.

A growth mindset is the most powerful learning tool one can internalize throughout their life; I allow students the ability to try new things and to learn from their mistakes. I invite students to take artistic risks, even those that result from what seems to be a temporary failure. Practice and problem-solving skills will feel second nature to my students as my expectations for them will never waiver. I will not only require this of my students, but myself as well. I will always continue to strive to do better, adjust my teaching each year with the feedback I receive, and to constantly engage with and learn from my mistakes. ︎