Sometimes I like to think I don't fit the "traditional" mold for teaching. I try to think back and remember how my teachers were when I was in high school and what about them made me like them. What did they teach me while I was there? How did they relate to me?
And I realized something. I realized that my favorite teachers weren't the ones who did the traditional crap. The teachers that made an impact on my life were the ones who shared real parts of themselves with me and taught from a passionate place. My favorite teachers were people who turned out to be more of a mentor and less of a lecturer. A friend, if you will, while still maintaining good boundaries.
Take my German teacher, for instance. Frau would share stories of her life, she invited us over to her house, she involved us in her thoughts. She was never overly organized and probably the least professional (in only the best ways) and she did her best to lift us up and make us feel smart.
I had an English teacher that I also really enjoyed, and he treated us in a similar fashion. He was a little more organized and professional on the business end of things, but he taught us in a fun and relevant way. He used youtube videos and humor all the time.
My history teacher junior year was a young teacher, like me, in maybe her second or third year. She was knowledgeable about her subject, but she kept history interesting. We would start out the day with "On this day in history" and if there wasn't anything good she'd pick a student's birthday during the summer or a school year break that we wouldn't get to and read that one instead. It was always a fun environment to be in, and when kids are able to have fun and still learn then that is when you've hit the magic mark.
So sometimes I get a little worried that maybe I share too much or I'm not professional enough and I don't conduct myself in necessarily the right manner, but then I realize that's completely stupid. I have to be myself or i'm not going to be good at what I do. My art teacher in high school was very strict, she kept her classroom quiet, she marked you down for talking, she made sure that you did the assignments to her specific outlines - no deviating.
And I hated it.
I hated her.
My goal is to create a learning environment where students are free to express themselves. Where they feel like their teacher not only knows what she's talking about, but allows her students to learn from her in a non-stuffy environment. I want my classes to be fun and entertaining as well as educational. You do your best work in a place where you feel comfortable, and if you can't be comfortable in an art classroom then something is gravely wrong with the world.
You don't have to be good at drawing or painting to be an artist, you just have to be willing to open up the creative side of your brain and let it spill all over your page. And that is what I want for my students. A comfortable environment with a passionate teacher and an end goal to become the most creative they can be.
So far, I think I have a real good start on that.