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          I believe that studying and making art teaches students the same underlying principals of understanding structure, building meaning, and self-reflection which build any successful practice from business management to scientific research.  Through learning to continue to work through building the conceptual understandings and the technical processes needed to create successful images, students learn the life skills necessary to be successful in any part of life.  As I teach, I push students to understand one core concept of visual art at a time, slowly building each concept on the foundation of the previous unit, giving my students the opportunity to delve deeply into their understanding of each concept.  I structure my lessons to allow each student individual instruction, meeting them at their skill level and helping them build on their strengths while tackling their weaknesses.  I give students clear objectives for their work which address the specific concepts we are working through, providing my students with clear goals for assignments, while freeing them to meet those goals in their own way.  Through carefully sequenced lessons, individual instruction, and providing clear goals, I teach my students the skills to analyze structure, build meaning, and use self-reflection to improve their work.

          To create the best learning environment for my students I use carefully sequenced and planned lessons which allow students to focus on one new concept at a time and receive individual instruction.  I strongly believe that in order to build comfort and success for my students the first step is to build their skills incrementally, so that as we reach more difficult concepts, my students have a strong foundation of visual comprehension to carry them through.  By chunking the content of my courses into distinct concepts which build on one another, my students are given the space to truly understand and become comfortable with their work.  Students need to be met at their individual skill level and given instruction which meets their needs.  With art specifically, students will enter the classroom with very different personal relationships with their own work.  Because of this, students must be given the appropriate support to move them forward whether they are highly gifted or struggling.  Through careful planning I create a structured and safe classroom which supports growth.

          My students are given clear objectives for every assignment which can be met in a number of ways.  For instance, when grading my students first charcoal drawing, their objectives listed specific techniques to be displayed, including showing the edge of an object through tonal contrast instead of line, showing a clear direction of light, and using spray fixative when the drawing is completed.  These objectives are straight forward and focus on the new concepts learned when first using charcoal.  My objectives specifically do not mention proportion, detail, or composition because those where not our new concepts.  By leaving many aspects of the charcoal drawing out of the listed objectives, my students were able to safely explore the new techniques and concepts they were learning, while having room to explore their interests through subject matter and meaning.  By assessing my students' work using clear goals and providing opportunities for self-expression, I provide my students with the safety of knowing how to succeed and the independence to explore their own interests.  

          When I see my students grow their skills and their level of investment in their work, I can see that the work of creating a structured environment with clear goals and room for individuality is serving my students.  Through careful instruction I work hard to nurture every student who passes through my classroom.   By nurturing the skills and cognitive processes necessary for art-making, I give my students the skills to pursue any of their passions. 

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