Student autonomy is at the center of my approach to teaching and learning in the art studio. Before I present any content, material, technique, or theme I consider how it will relate to or benefit my students’ overall success both as a young artist and as 21st century learner and citizen. This means that I have moved away from strictly teacher directed instruction over the years to allow for fluidity in my teaching. It is a long journey that evolves with each new student I have the honor of teaching.
My approach to teaching is equally shaped by the students and places I’ve taught as it is by the teaching theories that I have taken the time to study. I was trained in the Discipline Based Art Education Approach, which has four areas of focus: Art History, Art Creation, Aesthetics and Art Criticism. With this as my foundation I do stive to introduce my students to a breadth of artists and artworks throughout all of art history and across all cultures, but I also actively seek out diverse contemporary artists and craftspeople to include as sources of inspiration. In addition, even my youngest artists engage in active conversations about visual aesthetics and artistic analysis referencing both their own works and those of famous artists. In doing so they build connections with the world around them.
Once I began teaching in my own art classrooms, I became more and more aware of other teaching pedagogies, such as Differentiated Learning, Reggio Emilia and Montessori. The similarity among these that most resonated with my instincts as a teacher was the emphasis placed on the learner. Then, I discovered Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), which is an approach that began in the art classroom. I immediately recognized aspects of what I had been slowly incorporating in my own teaching in this philosophy and that there was overlap between this and the other pedagogies mentioned. Learning more about TAB was a validating experience.
Teachers who embrace TAB fall on a spectrum. There is a range of student choice from limited to full. I am somewhere in the middle and that varies depending on the needs of the students I teach as well as the resources available to me. My students thrive with choices, but sometimes when they are learning a new skill, they have to put in the work to demonstrate some mastery before applying the new skill to their own ideas. That being said, even technical skill building exercises become opportunities for exploration, experimentation, and understanding how artists work in the real world. Artists, even the best ones, have to practice. Its part of the creative process.
When considering the creative process, I have come to realize that not all art that a student artist makes has to be polished or pretty. Sometimes it may be messy or unidentifiable and that is okay. Each attempt is an opportunity for growth. For both my students and myself, education is a journey.

I hold a BFA in Painting and Art Education with a double minor in Art History and Creative Writing. I am licensed to teach Visual Art in Massachusetts for grades pre-k to 12 and have been sharing my love of art and learning with students for over fifteen years.