Today is June 20 and I am officially 10 days into my “summer vacation”. As most teachers will tell you, the descriptor “vacation” couldn’t be further from the truth. When students leave the building, it is a time for reflection and learning. While this may not seem like work, I treat it as a full time job.
As I finished my first year teaching English and my ninth year teaching art from a choice-based approach, I knew it was time to consider how I can push my understanding of the pedagogy that drives Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) into the English classroom. Choice-based teaching and learning delivers in-depth curriculum in the context of student-centered work. My own learning begins with a question: How can I use my art teaching experiences to deliver in-depth English curriculum in the context of student-centered work?
Initial answers to the question arose at the Midwest TAB Retreat, now affectionately known as “TABStock 2016”. Here I met with art teachers from all over the Midwest to reflect and share best instructional practices in the TAB-choice classroom. Our first break-out session focused on my question – using the context of student-centered work in other content areas. Discussion focused on the four pillars of TAB: Personal Context, Pedagogical Context, Classroom Context and Assessment. In addition to laying a foundation for the translation of practices, my peers made some suggestions for professional connections and the seed of my #PLN was planted with @donwettrick.
I just finished reading Don Wettrick’s Pure Genius. The concept of an Innovation Class partners so well with the TAB pedagogy. Wettrick defines an Innovation Class as one in which “students can have time and space to create their own learning experiences and collaborate with experts….a place where students learn by doing and creating, rather than passively listening to a set of directions” (2). This is precisely what is happening in my TAB art room.
I will continue to rethink my classroom practices and policies this summer. And while my PLN grows in size, so does my reading list: Writing Without Teachers, Drive, The Innovators Mindset and Teach Like a Pirate. I will read, collaborate, learn, and reflect. When I return in late August, I will do more to innovate, build, create, and disrupt my current instructional practices.