Going into Windsor High School, I was a little intimidated about the age group. However, after my student teaching experience, I would love the opportunity to work in a high school. The students were really able to engage and work for long periods of time and create art that has personal meaning to them. It was great to hear about the diverse interests throughout the classes and see the variety of the final artworks. I finally got to see the complexity and depth that goes into creating a successful work of art.
I feel my biggest successes were the relationships I built and the artwork produced from my lessons. I really felt I was able to connect with most of my students. Though it seemed like a short placement that flew by, I got to know a lot about the students both inside and outside of class. Also, by providing choice in the concepts of the projects, I felt that my students were self-motivated and excited about their works of art. Based on student feedback, many students appreciated the opportunity to create art that was relevant to their lives. Many students came in during their free time to work on projects as they were excited to finish.
What I learned the most out of this experience was all that goes into being a teacher and how to manage a class. Being a teacher is constant work, and with art there is so much prepping each day. Whether it is getting out materials, loading the kiln, or setting up for critiques, there is never a dull moment. Also, the PLC meetings and involvement outside of the class is another important piece. After this experience, I really understand the importance of planning and using time wisely. Another thing I learned a lot about is management. Though it felt odd at first reminding the high schoolers to stay off their phones, I finally got used to being in the role of the teacher. I learned a lot about how to interact with an age group that is so close to my own, and how gain their respect.
In my own class, there are a couple things I would like to do differently than I did during my time student teaching. I would really like to find a more successful way to integrate critiques. Students do not feel as comfortable talking about others' works of art, so it was difficult to get them engaged. I hope to do more critiques, orally and written, so that students can understand how to critique and why it is an important process. Also, when I get my own classroom, I will be much more confident. I feel I spent too much time in the beginning getting used to the management and the setting that I did not show my excitement and passion for art as much as I could have.
I do not think I could have asked for a better student teaching experience at the secondary level. I was able to teach subjects that I enjoy and work with many students. This experience has impacted my choice in what level I hope to teach in the future and I have seen how a great classroom is ran.