- Meredith Blackerby
Lesson Planning is one of the biggest concerns I hear from people when they are considering switching to TAB. In college, lesson planning was burned so deeply into my brain that I don't think I will ever be able to unlearn it. We planned down to the very last detail and thought of every possible outcome. If that is how you still do your lesson planning, I applaud you! But many in-service teachers will tell you that this is not exactly realistic. We don't have time to actually sit down and write out multiple pages for every single lesson (because let's be honest, who's got time for that?). The main purpose of lesson planning is to lay out your goals and make sure you have a plan in place to hit those benchmarks.
The same basic principals apply to TAB lesson planning. The only difference is that many of your goals become more skill-based and focus less heavily on content and vocabulary. I still make sure I spend time on the important art basics like the elements and principals of art, important art movements from history, etc. But I also do many lessons or demonstrations that are based around learning new art skills or techniques, how to deal with problems that might arise with your artwork, and the 8 Studio Habits of Mind**.
**If you don't know the 8 SHoM, here is a link to a great article about what they are and how to start implementing them into your classroom routine!
These skills are not only important to teach, but also to demonstrate in the classroom. Students need to know how to solve problems, improve on their artwork, and work collaboratively with their fellow artists. In short, they need to know how to behave like an artist. They also need to be exposed to new styles and techniques so that they feel comfortable to venture outside of their comfort zone and try new things throughout their artistic process.
To assure that I am covering all of the concepts that I find most valuable, I start every school year by creating a list of learning goals for each individual grade level. These learning goals can range from anything like "I can name all of the primary colors" to "I can use important works of art to inspire my own artwork". Starting with this list of concrete goals gives me a clearer path to my lesson planning for the rest of the year.
I then break these goals down into quarterly progressions so that I can prioritize which ones need to be taught earlier in the school year. Some of these goals will need to be revisited several times throughout the year and some will only need to be covered once.
This list of goals helps me to create a rough outline of my lesson plans for the entire school year. I say "rough" because I like to leave some room for spontaneous changes based on student need or interest. For example, I had one class this year that was showing a lot of interest in creating drip art with liquid watercolor paints and eyedroppers, but many of them were not feeling confident in their ability to use this material. So I swapped out one of my pre-planned demos for a demonstration on watercolors to allow these students to gain confidence in this technique.
In the classroom, our mini-lessons are called "Skill-Builder Time". I tried to get away from the use of the word "lesson" because I found that it had a negative connotation with my students. With "Skill-Builder Time" it can instead be presented as a time to improve as an artist and add more tools to our artist toolbox (see picture below). Students are encouraged to apply new skills or techniques to their own artwork, but are not required to do so.
There is no perfect system for Lesson Planning in any type of classroom. Whatever feels comfortable for you is most likely going to be the most productive option, but creating goals for yourself and your students is always a good place to start!