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May I have your attention, please


I am continually noticing how many similarities there are in teachers and artists. In their book, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education (2007), Winner, Veenema, & Sheridan identify eight studio habits of mind. One such habit is Observe--giving attention to visual contexts. Yes, we as artists must continually develop our acuteness to visual elements and implications. The first step in the art critique process is also looking closely and describing what we see.

A great teacher habit of mind is also Observation. One effective tip I gleaned from the book Teaching with Love and Logic, by Fay, J. & Funk, D. (1995) is the "I notice..." Begin to closely observe that student that you may be having difficulty establishing rapport. Then each day, without attaching an opinion or value judgement, simply begin to say, "I notice...." Perhaps you notice a style of dress, or a way of working out an artistic problem, or interest of popular movies or music. I have a fond memory of a student teacher telling me of her frustration with an 8th grader at the beginning of her internship. She decided to experiment with this strategy. At my final observation, this same 8th grader was volunteering to help with her car maintenance!

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