Name: Rachel A. Fout
School(s): Licking Heights North Elementary
Grade Levels: 5th grade (15 sections)
Years taught: 15 years total in art education, 7 years high school and currently my 8th year in elementary
Where do you fall on the choice spectrum?
Currently teaching TAB/ full choice. My students keep a sketchbook where they explore different media, materials, and techniques with task sheets. I demonstrate new and old techniques when I open studios, see an interest or trend, or want to change things up. My students keep all of their 2-D works in a portfolio but my hope is to transition into a digital platform next year with Artsonia. 3-D works get sent home unless they want it in the district art show. I challenge students to work in different studios throughout the year but they are not required to do so. My students work with a planning sheet to develop their WOW projects. The planning sheets guide students through the Studio Habits of Mind. The studios I have available: drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, ceramics, digital art, fiber, and printmaking. In the past I’ve offered visiting studios like encaustic painting, origami, book binding, paper making and jewelry.
How many years have you been teaching TAB/Choice?
Two and a half years. I jumped right in after OAEA Toledo 2017. I remember spending winter break rearranging and organizing my classroom. Yes, mid year. Which by the way, I’ve changed every year since.
I started to question my teaching methods when students started to challenge my DBAE ways. The project was sea turtles. Wet on wet watercolor technique of blues and greens for the background and a saran wrap technique to create texture for the sea turtle’s shell. A beautiful display of sea turtles right?! All unique in their own way. Why did I want her to follow my step by step project when she clearly had something better in mind. And even if it wasn’t better in my opinion, it was her art, and I was crushing that spark inside of her. It was then I decided to learn more about TAB and choice. I hit the internet and Facebook groups and boy was it overwhelming! I then registered for OAEA 2017 Toledo and I found the answers to my why. I was hooked!
Do you have your own room, share a room, or travel?
I am happy to share this year I have my own classroom and I did not have to travel. It has been an amazing year so far. In the past I have taught from a cart, traveled between two buildings, and have set an art room up in the hallway. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Our district is reconfiguring next year. So next year I will be teaching 2 sections of art at our 5-6 building and 17 sections of art at the Kindergarten building, so back to traveling and sharing rooms at the 5-6 building. Good news is I will have an amazing classroom at the kindergarten building.
What advice would you give someone transitioning to TAB/Choice?
Visit classrooms! Talk to other TAB/Choice teachers. Everyone TAB/choices a little bit different. Find where you fit best on the choice spectrum. Talk to your administration or curriculum director. Stop making excuses and just get started. Don’t be afraid to change it up if it doesn’t work for you the first time. Be an advocate for your program. Celebrate and share with colleagues, families and community. In the end what matters is that you are challenging students to develop their own ideas, explore media and materials, and celebrate/share the original works they’ve created. Oh, and above all take time to listen to their “why.” Why and how did they create their work of art? You will hear their stories, they will share their emotions, and you will feel it all!
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