Assessment in the arts usually equals teachers assessing student work and performance. Let’s discuss assessment from another angle: assessment of the teacher/student relationship. Creating positive student relationships in the classroom sets the stage for learning, so effective teacher/student interactions are a necessary positive foundation.
If students do not have a positive experience in school, it can leave a lasting impression.
How many times have you heard an adult say that they are not musical or artistic? And they explain that the reason they are convinced of this is because long ago, a teacher made a terrible comment about their “talent” or, lack of talent many, many years ago? Yeah, I’m sure you have heard it. I know, I cringe when I hear these stories too:
- I can’t draw a straight line, a high school teacher made me drop her art class I was so bad at drawing!
- My second grade art teacher told me I had no artistic ability, so that is when I stopped making art.
- My music teacher told me not to sing in the chorus, just mouth the words, it would sound much “better” that way.
These words stay in a person’s mind for many years. If those teachers were self-reflective, they would have been more connected to their students. Building positive student relationships helps to improve teaching and learning.
What is the climate like in your classroom? Do you reflect on your teaching practice?
If you are a teacher, you know that you need to have one (or more) formal observations a year. Many teachers dread these days when their administrator comes into the classroom to observe and score the teacher on many different indicators. The last few years my district has used the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) for formal observations. This tool measures connections between effective teacher/student interactions that improve learning. When these positive interactions with students are effective, students learn more because their behavior and peer relationships improve.
I actually look forward to my observations now because I truly do get more out of them. Positive interactions with students in the classroom really do matter! When students are motivated and connected to each other, that is good news. This means that the overall climate of my art room supports enjoyment, mutual respect, and varied points of view. And in my opinion, that is what elementary art should be about.
How do you create positive relationships in your classroom? Have you reflected on your teaching practice? Learning and growing as a teacher will benefit students: do it!
Amy Traggianese is an elementary visual arts educator and has been an art essentialist at a Connecticut Higher Order Thinking (HOT) School since 2001. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has over 25 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the art curriculum. She presents at local and national conferences and at HOT School Summer Institutes. Amy is also an active educator voice on Twitter, helps to facilitate #CTedu on Tuesday nights, and loves to connect with other educators through social media.