Collaborating with Colleagues: Artist Statements

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What does collaboration look like to you? I’m not just talking about in regards to your students. But what does collaboration look like in your own practice? Do you find that you’re a consumer? Finding things off of Pinterest and teachers pay teachers? Do you find that you’re a creator? Starting from scratch for each lesson or unit? I find that most educators are somewhere in between those. I also find that there’s not enough actual collaboration between educators in our creation of teaching content and activities.

I am quite literally the luckiest educator on the planet. I have an incredible PLC that I meet weekly with virtually. Our focus is on UDL and our practice using the guidelines to provide access for all students and the removal of barriers. But within that PLC I also get to share my initial ideas and get feedback. Even if I’m not sharing specifically with the entire group, I will ask for feedback from others.

I am also incredibly lucky because I have so many other partners in education. One of my favorite partner is Jaimee Taborda. She is a powerhouse art educator who shares generously. She and I can talk for hours upon hours about so many things – education, equity, choice, and student voice. She has an AH-MAZING website set up for students that I have modeled my own website around hers and she is just all around incredible.

I had been trying to figure out how to shift my students’ artist statements to feel less like a step by step process that they shared to a true artist statement, an uncovering of their intentions. I was pleased with the results from students’ statements but knew they could be improved. I’m unsure if I had asked Jaimee about her process or if she shared it out first. But it was amazing. So I became a consumer – and tweaked it for my students.

Here’s her original share: Artist Statement Presentation. It’s amazing.

Now I needed to tweak it in order to work for my students, I also adjusted some of it from being purely online to also having things printed off for students.

Here’s my version:

I’ve not changed anything major but provided some added supports for my students. I also printed off the slideshow for students because we weren’t super tech heavy.

Students wrote so clearly about how frightening the spider was. After reading and listening to the artist statement, which I recorded and played for them, students’ ideas shifted. I also wanted them to engage in this discourse with one another – so I really pushed them to share with a neighbor and then share on Seesaw.

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After engaging in Bourgois’ work and artist statement, I wanted to ensure students knew the purpose of the artist statement and what it looked like in galleries and museums along with what it’s purpose was within those spaces. We looked at a view different galleries and how they displayed the artist statements – in the future I will find more to share and for them to engage in. Students began to understand the context and the why behind the need for an artist statement.

After that I wanted to ensure that their sharing on Seesaw was happening in a more professional manner. I had not gone over this clearly at the beginning of the year – taking a photo flat and centered, etc. – because I wasn’t even sure I would like Seesaw. So I definitely needed to create some better parameters around their posting and my expectations. I used Jaimee’s examples of student work and artist statements because they were strong. I will use my own students’ work next year.

I love how students grew to create better artist statements and clearly understood their own purpose in making and sharing work throughout the year.

I am looking for other artists to do this activity with so I’m not constantly focused on Louise Bourgois. I think there are many artists who have work that is helped with an artist statement and context. So creating this inventory of contextual artists for students is necessary.

I also printed off the entire slideshow and put it up in my classroom for reference for students. It was helpful for them to look at it as they completed pieces or when they needed feedback on their photographs of their work.

How do you get students to write about their work in an authentic way? How do you encourage collaboration with students? How do you collaborate with other educators?

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