Welcome to the New and Improved Art Room!

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another amazing school year! This is Emily, the K-8 art teacher here with some beginning of the year information. As we settle in to this new campus, each and every one of us is exercising our “flexibility muscle” quite frequently. As a result of unforeseen construction for example, my classroom had to be shuffled around at the last minute, leaving me with no classroom for the first week of school. In order to lead by example, I decided to create a lesson called “Visual Charter”, which touched upon place-based art, grounding into a new space, impermanence, and social-emotional health. Please check out the blog post on the GWS website here!

At this point, our room is still a “work in progress” and we are all working with uncertainty. The students are taking all of this in stride, entering my classroom with a growth mindset and amazed at how much more space they have to work. In addition to being about three times larger, our new space also features a sink (!), air conditioning, and a brand new digital kiln! We are so fortunate to be here.

As we begin our classes in the art room, each class is slowly immersing themselves back into the role of “artist”. Through a series of grounding activities and exercises, students are given the opportunity to shake off the energy of where they are coming from and bring themselves (body and mind) into the art studio.

I have so many amazing things planned for our wonderful students this school year, and look forward to partnering with each of your as we explore this school year together! Please feel free to read on below to learn more about my teaching philosophy/developmental framework for each grade as well as volunteer opportunities for the art program this year!

Overview and Teaching Philosophy:
The art program at Gateway is rooted in the exploration of the “Studio Habits of Mind” through the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) approach to Art and Design Education. Throughout their years of study, students will have opportunities to practice many artistic skills and behaviors (including inquiry, idea generation, problem-solving, and materials use/care). Artists will discover how to express personal ideas, explore different media and materials, and relate to the work of others. Using a growth mindset, students will learn to work through challenges and look at their artwork holistically, recognizing patterns and evolution within their bodies of work. My job is to act as a guide, offering my support, suggestions, and knowledge of art and design. My overall goal is that students leave my class feeling supported, confident, and excited about who they are as artists.

What are the Studio Habits of Mind?
The arts are an incredibly important aspect of a child’s education. In the past decade, it has been lost in increasingly more schools as they cut their arts funding in favor of test preparation and other ‘academic’ or ‘practical’ programs. In response to this trend, and in an effort to validate how important arts education is, a group of art teachers tied to Harvard University’s “Project Zero” collaborated to study and articulate exactly how making art benefits our students. Through extensive research, they discovered patterns in thinking and behavior practiced within the art room. These can be applied to life outside the studio and strengthen children’s ability to think critically, understand themselves and others, and work through challenging situations. They are: Envision, Observe, Stretch & Explore, Develop Craft, Understand Art Worlds, Express, Engage & Persist, and Reflect. Known as the “Studio Habits of Mind” or “Studio Thinking”, these eight skills and behaviors will guide our explorations throughout the year and deepen our understanding of what it means to be “artists”.

What the year will look like:
Throughout the school year, I will be introducing individual centers within the art room, each consisting of a specific type of material and tool options. I seek to provide sensory experiences that entice students to ask questions, develop their skills and discover their interests, as well as provide a communal and supportive art studio experience for all. Through the frequent revisitation of certain materials through different lenses (in relation to the elements and principles of design, Studio Habits of Mind, and curricular connections), students will understand that materials can be used fluidly, and that there are unlimited ways to experience each medium. Through experimentation, artists can discover new ways of combining materials to express ideas creatively, aiding in the development of personal style.

Developmental Appropriateness:
According to Viktor Lowenfeld, artistic development occurs gradually as a person’s brain develops. The stages of artistic development are generally broken down into the Scribble Stage, the Preschematic Stage, the Schematic Stage, Dawning Realism, the Age of Reason, and the Period of Decision (some resources may name them differently or have slightly varied age ranges). Although every child is unique and will develop in his or her own way at his or her own pace, these stages are roughly correlated by age, and are thought to progress linearly. I strive to utilize the characteristics of these stages as assets to the art program, and seek to design content that is developmentally appropriate, engaging, and inspiring for each student artist in my classroom. The following are general guides to my teaching philosophy related to each age group.

Kindergarten and First Grade:
Our youngest children will be introduced to each material through the lens of exploration. Play is an integral part of art, and these are the years to develop that muscle. As each material/concept is introduced, students will be presented with many opportunities for choice in subject matter and media, allowing for collaboration, no-pressure exploration, and creative thinking. Utilizing concepts from the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood art education, students will be presented with open-ended “provocations” for exploration and learning, opportunities to explore “emergent curriculum”, and given time to truly talk about their work. We begin planting seeds of the “Studio Habits” now, through group discussions, “share time”, and responsibly caring for the art studio, its materials and our fellow artists.

Second Grade through Fourth Grade:
As our artists mature, the studio will continue to function as a choice-based space with optional skill-builders included throughout each unit of study. These will range from technical skills (such as shading or color-mixing) to critiques and references to art history. As each year begins, students will go “back to basics” and experience each center individually, gaining a renewed appreciation for each material and a foundation for mixed media integration. Through the combination of choice and developmentally appropriate guidance, students will begin to understand and take ownership of and their artistic choices.

Fifth Grade:
This being the final year of regularly scheduled art class, this group will work to fully integrate the “Studio Habits of Mind” into their artistic practice. Through the development of their own personal sketchbooks, artists will have opportunities to take responsibility for and reflect upon their choices and growth, while gaining knowledge of technical skills and art theory in relation to their personal style preferences.

Volunteer Opportunities for Art 2019-20 School Year

Emily Jingst (emily.jingst@gatewaysc.org

I’m so excited to get things going and we would love to have you involved! Please see below for a list of current volunteer opportunities related to the art program, and email me with any questions or to volunteer.Keep in mind, our needs may change throughout the year, so stay tuned. Thank you for your interest!

  • Materials sourcing and collection:
    • Donating art materials/recycled materials to be used in the studio:
      Have access to lots of recycled cardboard? Wine corks? Newspaper? Keys? Anything you think could be cool to work with? Please don’t hesitate to email me with any ideas and I’ll be sure to let you know if these materials could be of use to us!
    • Organization, storage, inventory of supplies:
      With all of these materials to keep track of, an organized system is a must. Do you enjoy sorting through and categorizing? Making sense of clutter? I could always use help keeping track of what I have and storing it logically to find it easily.
  • Studio maintenance:
    • Organizing/re-stocking materials in centers:
      The art room is organized into centers that are designed to be visually inviting and well organized. This type of assistance would include keeping our centers stocked and looking great (cutting paper, sharpening pencils, sorting and display)
    • Cleaning and washing:
      Art can be messy, and despite the wonderful job our students do of keeping the studio tidy, there is always more to be cleaned (brushes, palettes, tools, tables).
  • Guest speakers and Community outreach:
    Santa Cruz is a vibrant, creative community and we are so lucky that our new location brings us close to the action. In an effort to connect the arts with the world outside of the classroom, I am asking our community members who have ties to the art world they would like to share their resources with our students.
  • Artistic professionals, guest artists, local art business connections:
    Are you someone who uses the arts in your everyday life and/or career? We’d love to have you share! Help the world of the arts come alive and demonstrate the relevance and value of arts education. This could materialize in a variety of ways, including guest artists to talk about their work and participating in the art world, or even teaching an art lesson!
  • Field trip opportunities:
    With many galleries and studios within walking distance, we have an incredible wealth of art appreciation opportunities to explore. Have a connection with a gallery or studio you’d like to share with us? We’d love to visit!
  • Art Tour (End of year, all-school Art Show):
    • Ongoing planning:
      Throughout the year, a small group of us meet periodically to discuss logistics and preparation for the event
    • Event preparation and management:
      Near the end of the year, we could always use help with immediate preparation including mounting work, putting up/taking down art. Participation opportunities also include bringing food and drink, as well as general supervision/leading of interactive activities.