Our school admissions team gives prospective parents tours of the school as part of their introduction to The American School in Japan. They often come by my elementary Art room to see what we are up to. On one occasion, a parent asked me how I liked teaching art. I gave them a very simple answer. I said, “I have the best job in the school. I get to create and play with kids all day.”
I truly believe that I do have the best job in the school. I get to work with students as they create, use their imagination, make things, get covered in clay and paint, problem solve, talk about cool stuff, laugh, listen to music, see amazing art, hear great stories, use technology, and be proud of their finished work. I am very lucky because kids want to come to art and WE have a great time while they are there.
This is very important to me. I want my students to have a good time and to feel safe when they make something. I want them to not be afraid to take a risk, make a mistake, or try something new. I show them that many of the skills they learn in art can be used in their other subjects as well. Art is not something that stands by itself, but is all around us in both practical and beautiful forms.
Each year is different; I don’t like doing the same projects over and over again. I give myself and the students new challenges such as learning about and implementing technology. As my students learn, I do as well. I am constantly trying out new ideas and techniques. I learn about them and change things to better suit my students. Art becomes boring if you only do the same things. Art is always evolving and so should a good art program.
I have been teaching art to students for 23 years now. Seventeen of those years have been in international schools in Venezuela and Japan. I have taught elementary, middle school, high school, special education and even adult classes. I truly don’t have a preference because each level of students has its own rewards and challenges. To be able to teach art to anybody is a gift.
I am very lucky.