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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jane Snider

April 30, 2013

This is the 29th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJane Snider lives in Milbridge, Maine. This is her 20th year teaching elementary art. Her first 9 years were in Washington County, SAD #37. Jane taught in 5 elementary schools with an average of 550 students. She had an art cart in each school and went classroom to classroom. It was a challenging job, but she loves a challenge and made it a successful experience. In 2002 she downsized to one school In Hancock County, Hancock Grammar School (HGS). She was so excited to have her first “art classroom”. Jane is still teaching at HGS and as a result of the consolidation of RSU#24 she also teaches K-8 at Lamoine Consolidated School.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I love sharing my passion for art and life with my students. I love teaching and guiding them in “seeing” their world. Watching the development of each student from year-to-year is fascinating. I feel lucky to have many of the students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The relationships that are formed through art learning are very rewarding. The thoughts, ideas and insights that my students share with me, inspire me.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. A committed, passionate, knowledgeable teacher who believes that the arts are fundamental to the human experience.
  2. Students that love and appreciate the arts. Their advocacy is essential for parental, administrative and community support.
  3. Financial funding support is also an added bonus!

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment in elementary art has always been of interest to me. How do we assess or score something that is personal and subjective? I believe we assess our teaching objectives. I use many formative assessments in my teaching. I try very hard to dialogue with each student about their process. Most of all, I want students to love what they are doing. I want students to feel good about their work. I want to instill an appreciation for art. We must self-assess our learnings to nurture our growth. Student work must be exhibited. It needs to go up on walls or out in the community. This allows the students an opportunity to quietly self-assess. As the teacher, I ask the questions “Did the student learn the concept or skill being taught? Does the artwork reflect their knowledge and skill?”  Assessment is attached to the validity of a subject. If we want arts programs to be successful we must assess the outcomes.

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

The MAAI has been a great experience. I have met some wonderful colleagues to collaborate with across Maine. I have learned so much about assessment, teaching and learning. I have been able to reflect on my teaching practices and make changes that will help students be more involved, accountable and successful. MAAI provided me with the training and opportunity to share this information and knowledge with my local colleagues.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the curriculum and program that I have built for my students. Stories from students, both past and present, have let me know I made a difference in their lives.

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

I am always striving to be the best teacher I can. Time is a challenge, I wish I had more teaching art time with students. More time to collaborate with other teachers would be helpful.

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

I have worked hard to develop a strong arts program. My classes go quite smoothly do to years of learning about child development, teaching and learning practices, classroom management techniques, organization and flexibility.

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

LOVE WHAT YOU DO! CREATE your teaching experience. Enjoy it, know that you are making a difference. Advocate for the arts and yourself. Never stop learning about  education and students. Find out what motivates and inspires arts learning.

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

$500,000 ???? I would become mortgage free!  I would find or build a building to start an art co-op to exhibit local artisans and their work. I’m getting closer to retirement so I would probably do more of my own artwork and offer art classes.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I have no regrets, my life has been full, rich and rewarding. I have had some incredible tragedies, some amazing opportunities, the best friends, family and colleagues. I have shared with many what gifts I’ve been given. I have learned much, laughed often, loved with all my heart. I found my purpose in doing what I love.

Thank you Jane for sharing your story!

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