6 Teachers We Love

Local educators talk about the art of teaching and what they've learned from your kids.

Photo by Skip Brown.

Katie Aiken

Art teacher, K.W. Barrett Elementary School, Arlington | Years teaching: 7

❝ I have seven nieces and nephews. I’m always the aunt who gets them art supplies for their birthday and takes them to art museums.

❝ I want students to appreciate art, although a more accurate description of my class is teaching visual thinking skills. Art appreciation sounds like I’m asking them to be bystanders of art. I strive to teach them to be contributors of art.

❝ They say “I can’t draw” when they’re trying to make it look like something specific. They have this image in their head and they really need it to look like that. So I’ll ask, how can we break that image up into different shapes? If it’s an animal, they start with the animal’s head. What shape is that? And we sort of go part by part: If we put a circle here for the head and we put triangles for the ears and an oval for the body, then we can kind of put it together. It just requires them to take a step back and think about whatever they’re trying to draw in a different way.

❝ A lot of students prefer clay. I think it’s therapeutic for kids to be able to change the shape and get their hands on it. There’s really not anything that’s a substitute.

❝ I want to give students a voice. I want them to tell their story through their artwork. There are ESL students, and they’re basically newcomers. But they can come into the class and see what I’m doing and immediately go to their seat and produce something. Even if they can’t explain it to me, I can understand a little bit more about them and where they came from, their identity and who they are.

Categories: Education
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