Teachers are many things: Instructor + Facilitator + Mentor + Consultant + Coach + Learner. I have taught children and adults. Throughout the years of teaching and developing instruction, I have found many beliefs. I believe in chaos. I believe in students finding their voice in what they create. I believe all levels of learners can be successful. I believe in collaboration between instructors, between students, and between instructors and students. I believe students should have access to new and emerging technology.  I believe students should take charge of their own learning. I believe in developing instruction to pass on knowledge to others. I believe in being a life-long learner
          My classroom is chaos.  At least that is what my classroom looks like to the outside observer.  The classroom may look like chaos, but my curriculum is not.  This does not mean that my projects are set in stone. Room for improvisation is often present in my lessons. For the 3D Modeling course I was teaching, I created a lesson that had students using modeling clay to create a robot. The students then were to use the digital cameras in class to photograph their creations.  As it turned out, there was a problem with the cameras connecting to the computers. To solve this problem, the students ended up using their phones and an app to take the photographs and upload them to the program that we were using to make a 3D digital model of their creation.  This substitution ended up working better than the original plan because it got all the students up, moving around, and cooperating with each other. 
          I often have to do some backward planning to create my lessons. Instructors are often given only standards or goals to meet.  For example, I looked at the state standards for teaching vector-based work in Digital Art.  I begin to think over projects that had been successful in the past and decided to have students create a propaganda style poster. I created a rubric assessment to determine what the students need to know.  From that rubric, I set out to design a project that was made up of several lessons to move the students toward the desired goal. I created pre-instructional activities, a step-by-step guide, and videos to present the information to the students. After a formative assessment, I fleshed out the rubric and adjusted the lessons to meet the students' needs. in addition, I noticed that several students wanted to incorporate their own style into the project. I revised the project to make sure that the students still met the goals of the project, but they were able to adjust or alter certain portions of the project to make it their own. This gave the students ownership of their project and encourages them to find their voice in creating art.
          While working on curriculum for a newly accepted 3D Modeling course, I collaborated with an instructor from our sister school to work out the issues in creating lessons and partnering with her to split the workload of writing lessons and developing videos to teach the assignments. In addition to working together, we sought out other instructors, who were more adept at teaching the same software, to teach us what they knew. This collaboration greatly impacted both our classrooms.
          Empowering students by having them collaborate with me has been a rewarding experience. For several years there was an art exhibition that displayed the work of students next to their instructors.  While this was always a great way to show the work that was created, it wasn’t a true collaboration. When that exhibition was canceled, I asked one of my students to have an art show with me at a local venue. We worked on pieces separately and together. We had to develop a title for the exhibition and the promotional material. This allowed the student to discover how to set up an art show and gave her confidence in abilities. 
          I feel that it is important that all levels of learners deserve the chance to create. I developed a Digital Art Coach course to partner special needs students with other learners to teach them basic computer skills. These students engaged in such activities as sending emails, creating powerpoint presentations, and basic coding skills.  Each student developed a passion for a certain skill and was able to develop that skill further with the assistance of the coach that they were partnered with. In addition, I developed an Advanced Placement Digital Art course for students whose skills had surpassed all the other courses and were ready to create a portfolio of their work.
          I created a mini makerspace where students had access to 3D printers, vinyl cutters, digital cameras, drawing tablets, Arduino, and more. As a sponsor of the Digital Art Club, I have guided students in their pursuit to learn more about technology in the arts.  Students participated in guided lessons from guest speakers, hosted showcases for their skills, took their creations to festivals and learned how to run their own business by running a booth at multiple conventions.
          I have encouraged students to take an active responsibility for their own learning by flipping the classroom.  They had access to a learning management system with materials including videos that I created to teach them about the programs they were learning. They spent the time in class working and making strategic choices, reflecting on their learning process, collaborating with each other, critiquing each other, and submitting constant input. Each student was aware of what they were learning and why they were learning it.
          In teaching teachers, it is my goal to help them see how technology can be another tool in service of teaching. For example, I designed lessons to teach elementary and junior high school teachers how to incorporate technology as a tool into their art classrooms.  This involved created the lessons that their students would be learning and then showing the teachers how to teach it. After the teachers had learned several lessons, I guided the teachers in designing and developing lessons for them to implement back at their school.  I facilitated a discussion with the teachers about what technology they had at their disposal, then they teamed up to design and develop an idea for a lesson, and finally, we came back as a group to discuss the lesson and how it could be evaluated.  This follows that instructional design framework of analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate (ADDIE). 
          In designing instruction for adults outside of the traditional classroom setting, I have held on to the ADDIE model and have learned to be more flexible in creating learning environments. It is necessary to admit when I don’t know something and seek out those who are subject matter experts to assist in designing instruction.
          I believe in both teachers and students becoming life-long learners. Because of this belief, I feel that it is important to continue to be a student as well.  I have attended national, state, and local conferences; been an artist-in-residence at TX/RX Labs, a local makerspace; and regularly hone my skills in many ways, including taking digital art courses at Anderson Ranch Art Center in Colorado and pursuing a graduate certificate at the University of Houston.
          It is my job to empower young people to collaborate, to be creative, and to find their voice in the chaos.  I want help teachers to feel confident in using technology as a tool in their classrooms and to design engaging lessons. I want adult learners to be understood by those training them and have a sense of personal ownership in the process of learning. And, I want to be constantly learning something new because tomorrow looks different every day. 
Back to Top