As a new school year is underway, so marks a time to refocus your goals and hone in on what types of things you want to impress upon your students.  We teachers get this great perk to our careers – we start a school year fresh, often with a new group of students, optimistic about our skills as teachers and hopeful that we will inspire all the children and young adults that travel our way.  For me, this is also proving to be a great time to reevaluate my own philosophy of teaching.

This September and October, The Inspired Classroom is getting back to its roots, the premise upon which it was built: a belief in the value and power of arts education and integration and I am excited to say that I will be joined my some amazing educators who will guest blog about this ever important topic.

To begin, I thought it appropriate to reflect on my own philosophy of education and explore how the arts play into this.

In cleaning out some old binders this summer, I came across the first philosophy statement I had to write while in college nearly 13 years ago.  Here it is:

My philosophy of teaching is not one that dictates, tells or pushes.  It is one that shows, lets students explore and guides students along in their learning.  The article How I Grew in the Garden by Emilie Barnes is a great parallel to my philosophy of teaching.  It compares teaching to gardening and all that goes with it.

Emilie reflects on how plants want to grow, that they were meant to grow and that she is allowed to be in on the process.  This is the same with teaching.  In gardening, Emilie must prepare the soil, plant the seeds and then weed, water and feed.  As teachers we do the same things.  We prepare lessons, give lessons and guide students in their growth.  Emilie must watch for disease, insects and for extremes of weather.  We must watch for bad habits and misunderstandings.

The parallels don’t stop here.  Emilie understands the importance of patience.  Instant flowers are non-existent.  A lot of work is needed for a good garden.  Teachers as well can’t expect instant knowledge.  Learning takes time and energy for it to be done right.  Pruning, for Emilie seems to be the hardest part of gardening.  There is so much work that needs to go into pruning.  Trimming and weeding are only the beginning steps to the painful process.  However the results are a great payoff.  This is so in teaching as well.  Refining a student’s ability can be a long, hard process but the outcomes are well worth it.

No one said that gardening was easy, but many people go through the hard work to get beautiful results.  As for us, we too are gardeners, but our results can be far more beautiful than any garden.  As a teacher, I hope that I would be a gardener to my students.

This philosophy (though not so well-written) is not far off my mark now.  Our job as teachers is to guide students, instruct them, inspire them and help them to realize their potential.  And the arts can very much be part of this teacher’s style.

So here are a few ways I hope the arts will help my teaching as I tend to my garden of students:

  • To create community in my classroom.
  • To encourage creativity and individuality.
  • To emphasize the importance of the process and stick-to-itiveness.
  • To empower learners by their mistakes.
  • To enrich the other areas of our language arts and other disciplines.
  • To help students discover their own learning styles.

And how?

  • Through musical listening experiences
  • Through music creation
  • Through individual and community visual art making
  • Through art study
  • Through drama, dance and movement activities
  • Through storytelling
  • Through poetry reading and composition

What are some ways you plan to use the arts in your teaching this year?

Arts Integration Series About to Begin
The Arts are not Quick