Archive for December 10th, 2020

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Getting There, Part II

December 10, 2020

MECA MAT students

This is Part II of a blog post about the Masters in Arts and Teaching (MAT) students and along with Part I a snapshot of their program this fall at Maine College of Art (MECA). Students presented their work in an exhibit called Getting There, November 28 – December 7 at the college in Portland. Included in the exhibit was a piece that connects each artist and future teacher together. Called Team Awesome, artist Cooper Binette created ten 6×8 inch portraits, oil on panel, of each student. Included in the piece are statements from each of the ten. Their words, below, say it best.

Cooper Binette

Team Awesome 

Cooper Binette

10 6 x 8in Oil on Panel 

I’m getting there…

The journey from artist to teacher has changed my outlook on everything I thought I knew about the subjects. Through readings, guest speakers, field work, and our amazing community of teachers and students, we are all bettering ourselves and deepening our knowledge of the practice. The education system is designed to condition students out of their creativity and to discourage mistakes. The only way to combat this is for teachers to encourage exploration while fostering a safe environment where students can not only make a mistake, but learn from it and discover something new. 

Through this MAT program, I have developed a completely new outlook on art as a whole. My art has always been inspired by a deep interest in the traditional academic style of painting. I was enveloped in the ideas of “mastery” and obsessed with learning different techniques to accomplish what I was trying to convey. These ideas and techniques work for some people, but I have found that each and every student learns differently. There are so many different tastes, styles, and students. The teacher has to have a wide variety of skills and knowledge to help foster an inclusive environment where all students can learn.    

The teacher candidates I work alongside at Maine College of Art have such diverse and creative backgrounds. To capture this I painted each teacher candidate and had them concoct a paragraph describing where each individual is at in their studies. The Masters of Art for Teaching program has introduced me to many incredible new people and ideas. It is my hope that through our study of inclusivity and best practice we can reform not only the future of teaching, but the future of all of our students.

Trent Redmon

“My biggest takeaway from the MAT program is that passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Art is the most important thing in the world to me, and any time I work with a group of students, I try to make that evident to them through my speech and my actions. I believe that demonstrating passion for art can go such a long way towards motivating students to embrace creativity, have fun and grow.”  

Seth Baron

“While I have spent the past few months studying best practices in teaching. I have also found myself more and more passionate about becoming a full time educator. Alongside incredible mentors and peers, my understanding of the world has broadened. Constantly tackling new challenges and living outside of my comfort zone for the past few months. Has kept me on my toes and taught me the vitality and emotional intelligence that is necessary for teaching a classroom of any demographic. I am looking forward to becoming employed in Maine and continuing this life long learning process.”

Lauren Anderson

“I entered the MAT program with a surface level understanding of why I want to be a teacher. I simply had hopes of inspiring my students to make art. As this program has progressed I have gained a better understanding as to why I am here today. Each student deserves to be treated as an individual, and to feel comforted in the classroom. Every student has unique abilities to bring to the table that will allow me as the teacher to continue to learn as well. I want to inspire students to create art, but I also want my students to feel cared for, unique, and to teach me new skills as I am teaching them how to find their voice through their artwork.”

Philippa Adams

“The most important thing to me as a future teacher?  That my students will feel safe and respected in my classroom. Lessons are only successful if students are ready to learn. I am eager to be a teacher who creates accessible learning environments for all students, and turns the idea of “accessibility” away from something we do for some students into something that benefits all of us.”

Sean Dillon 

“Something the MAT program has made me aware of is just how little time you have with your students.  They’re with you, and before you know it, they’re gone, with the whole rest of their story ahead of them.  As teachers, we have a brief window of time to make a meaningful impression on our students and send them off with something good.  I’d like to make sure, as I emerge from MECA a fully certified art teacher, to remain constantly aware that every moment is fleeting and to make the most of my time with my students.”

Audrey Robidoux

“When I first came to the MAT program I had a clear idea of the rest of my life. I wanted to work with elementary kids. But as I learned more, I realized my strengths would be better utilized with high school students. I am excited by art history and complex art projects, by long term sketchbook assignments and critical thinking. I want the opportunity to be a mentor to students about to go off on their own in the world, and equipped with the tools to succeed in adulthood. High School can be the most difficult time during childhood, and I hope that my new knowledge of mindful teaching and the Universal Design for Learning will allow me to best teach them in a meaningful way.”

Shelby Pyrzyk

“My biggest takeaway from the MAT thus far is that I believe I’ve found my life’s calling. This program has made me realize how much I enjoy teaching children art and seeing their excitement when they’ve created something. I’m truly excited to see what the future holds for me after this program!” 

Sophie Olmsted

“The MAT program has encouraged me to step into my power as an artist-educator. I have come to believe that art is the answer. Art provides us with connection, beauty, reflection, laughter, honesty, reckoning, healing, and hope. Everyone needs a little more of it in their life! I feel so lucky to have discovered this program and have so much appreciation for my cohort and their creativity. I am excited and ready to jump into student teaching and put theory into practice!”

Madison Mahoney

“In the past 5 months I have developed a teaching philosophy that is centered around Social Emotional Learning and creating a supportive learning environment. In this environment, experimentation and play is not only welcome, but encouraged. Through my BFA course I am reminded of what it is like to be a novice and how frustrating and exciting the making process can be. It is these kinds of experiences that I believe keep us grounded as educators. I can’t wait to keep embracing challenges and growing with this cohort.”

Rachel Somerville

Dr. Rachel Somerville is the Interim Program Chair of Art Education, Assistant Professor at MECA and works directly with each of the ten MAT students.

“I am in awe of ‘Team Amazing.’ This group of ten entered the MAT program with a curiosity and drive to learn how to teach a subject that they love. Their passion for art has sustained them through a rigorous graduate program and during a very uncertain time. Despite the many twists and turns we have had to take due to the safety protocols instituted in partner schools and community organizations; the cohort has remained flexible, positive, and open to the conditions brought forth by the pandemic.  Each teacher candidate has remained committed and enthusiastic to their goal of becoming a teacher.  I’m quite sure that they are gearing up to change the world, and I’m grateful to be pictured here among the stars. ” 

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