|About Art Partners|
Underpinnings of the Art Partners Program
The Art Partners program operates under the assumption that all children can learn and that all children can find personal meaning in art experience. Art Partners is based on the belief that art is profoundly educative. Children with special learning needs due to disability and/or risk of school and social failure benefit from art experience for the following reasons:
Art as Preventative Medicine: An underlying premise of Art Partners is prevention through the development of positive self-concepts in growing children. If children can approach their teenage years with strong and healthy self-images, then they may be better equipped to withstand negative pressures and make better personal decisions when confronted with tough choices. Such children stand a better chance of maturing into adults who can function as productive, satisfied, and contributing members of society.
Improving Teacher Training: Art Partners addresses the need to provide teachers in training with greater opportunities for diverse, real life field experience before their final student teaching assignment. Under the direct guidance and mentoring of a faculty instructor who is an active member of the Art Partners teaching team, students can experience the application of theory to practice, and receive on the spot feedback for problem-solving as real situations arise.
Three purposes served by this early field experience are:
The unique aspect of Art Partners that brings a college instructor out into the community to work alongside students is based on the belief that teacher education faculty need to remain timely and relevant in their preservice instruction, especially in light of the changes taking place in schools of the 21st century. Regular activity out in the field also provides college faculty with opportunities for applied research in which they can involve their students as co-researchers, simultaneously serving as role model and collaborator. Results of this work allow faculty to assess, update, and augment curriculum for courses taught back on campus, increasing relevancy and connection between what is taught in college and what is needed in the community.
Partnership Between College and Community: The Art Partners program supports collaboration between higher education and the community in the delivery of educational service to all students. Through their involvement, teachers and staff at the schools Art Partners serves receive a form of inservice training while also joining the teaching team as consultants and collaborators. We need new solutions to the unique problems of educating and raising up children in a global world that is rapidly changing and often in chaos. In addition to educational needs, school teachers are becoming more and more involved in the development of children's social and emotional intelligence, and they need to be well equipped to do so effectively. The Art Partners program strives to answer these challenges while building a bridge between higher education and schools.
The Art Partners Program Format
The Art Partners teaching team, comprised of faculty coordinator and several student teachers from Buffalo State, present weekly art experiences at their host school. This year, we are serving fourth and fifth grade students at Broadway Village School 57, and teenagers at the Community-Based Special Education program housed in McKinley High School. The younger students are divided into small groups of three or four, each under the charge of the same student teacher all semester. This allows the student teachers, most of whom have little or no teaching experience, a chance to try on the role of teacher without feeling overwhelmed. In the process, they gain increased understanding of the children's evolving needs and the kinds of teaching strategies needed to ensure their success. The children benefit greatly from the constancy that this caring relationship provides.
In addition to providing education in art, the experiences offered through Art Partners are closely aligned with the teaching and learning that is taking place in the children's regular classrooms. Based on collaboration with the host teachers, and in consideration of established learning and developmental goals and objectives, the team works together to design thematic units of study that address identified areas of need in art education and other subjects such as social studies, living skills and language arts. Once a unit theme is established, individual lessons are created to promote the goals of the unit.
Lessons are presented weekly during a regularly scheduled double period. Each lesson is written and presented using the following format:
The Opening: This segment is lead by the BSC faculty team member for purposes of modeling effective teaching strategies for the BSC student teachers. This segment opens with our Hello Song (for younger children) and introduces the day's activities to the group as a whole. Opening activities include appropriate art history and art criticism content (viewing, discussing and learning about artworks and the artists who created them), and any other preliminary motivational strategies that provide a basis for informed art production.
The Middle: This segment is the art production part of the lesson where the students use art materials and processes to make art objects. For this segment, the younger students work with their assigned student teacher in their smaller groups. Older students work one-on-one with BSC student teachers rotating within the environment. The faculty coordinator helps orchestrate the flow of activity and is available for on-the-spot assistance to any student teacher who needs help. Student teachers are encouraged to call upon their faculty coordinator without hesitation so they can benefit from model teaching and problem-solving strategies as situations occur. Everyone helps with clean up and display of work at the designated time.
The Closing: For this final segment of the lesson, all (BSC team, teachers and children) reconvene as one large group. The faculty team coordinator leads the closing activity. This includes time for display and discussion of work as well as interactive summarization of the lesson's major concepts. Providing the children a chance to share what they have accomplished reinforces learning and retention, and strengthens self-concept. A brief description of what's on tap for next week, and singing our Goodbye Song (for the younger children) brings the session to a close.
After the student teachers have some experience under their belts, they work with a partner to write and present an entire lesson, themselves, as the coordinator observes and supports their efforts. Their colleagues give feedback to the student teachers during the staff meeting, which follows every session.