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Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Lisa Marin

May 22, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an educator

This is the tenth in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Lisa Marin is a K-12 Visual Art teacher who has taught for 16+ years at Jonesport-Beals High School and Jonesport Elementary School. She teaches approximately 140 students per year, between elementary classes and high school art 1, 2, 3 and some years art 4. All levels of high school art are taught together in each of the three periods. Lisa is a Teacher Leader with the first phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

What do you like best about being a visual art educator?

Getting a chance to work with young people to, hopefully, make a positive impact on their future, where ever life takes them. Offering a safe place where they can express themselves.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  • Focusing on what you find most valuable to teach
  • Creating a positive environment that nurtures students to take risks
  • Making connections within your school and wider community

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

They give me a sense of an underlying direction, framework, and goals for my curriculum and teaching. I am able to have a more meaningful dialog with my colleagues, making connections across content areas for assessment and student learning. Additionally, students have greater, and deeper understanding of what represents quality work and can then set personal goals to achieve those results.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Coming from a district where I am one of two arts teachers, and the only visual art teacher, can feel isolating. This initiative has given me the opportunity to work intensively with colleagues to think about challenging issues in arts education, both inside as well as outside the classroom. I really enjoy being part of something bigger than my own small corner of Maine. I feel energized to boost the quality of my teaching. This is not an easy task for anyone who has been teaching for many years. There’s a tendency to fall into the ‘rut in the road’!

What are you most proud of in your career?

Early in my career at JBHS I established the Jonesport-Beals High School Fine Arts Scholarship Fund awarded to any senior who wanted to pursue higher education in the arts. I have received a lot of community support in fundraising efforts and have been able to substantially increase the dollar amount awarded in recent years.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time, not enough of it! Especially lack of planning time with fellow teachers.

Apple or PC?

Ten years ago never would have said this but….. Apple all the way! Laptop initiative changed my life!

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Level of quality in my students’ work. Having to be a cheerleader to challenge my students to give their best effort. Quality comes with a determination to work hard. Talent is an amazing thing to have, but I’ve seen many students who weren’t the most talented produce really creative, self-revealing work, because they were willing to hang in there with me and go the extra mile to do their best.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Keep a sense of humor. Try not to take anything negative too personally. Find ways to keep your teaching fresh and forward thinking.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Travel! To exotic and not so exotic places.

I invite all who care to, to check out my wiki. There are a lot of links to lesson plans and assessment ideas. I love feedback, and suggestions for new postings.
www.newartassessmentswiki.pbworks.co.

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to tell your story!

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