Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Adventures in Art Instruction

From the first time I ever trained someone on a job I've been told that I have a knack for communicating ideas to people in a way that made it quick and easy to grasp. I've often ended up being the primary trainer (officially or not) in job settings including my last command in the Navy where I trained several hundred young officers on their watchstanding duties. I've known that I wanted to teach art since undergrad back in the mid to late 90's, and I'm in grad school partly because I want the opty to teach art on the college level.

SCAD-Atlanta Summer Seminar
This summer I was given the opportunity to teach a summer seminar to high school students at SCAD-Atlanta. The summer seminars are essentially a big recruiting thing, and the kids get a chance to try out the school. There really isn't much that you can fit into one week, but being that it was my first experience I spent more than 2 straight weeks developing lesson plans. The class was "Cartooning and Sequential Art" which is a huge topic for a one week seminar that lasted only 2 and 1/2 hours each day, but I tried to pack as much into it as possible. I developed a character design lecture, an inking lecture/demo and workshop, a basic 2D composition lecture, and a cartoon acting workshop.

Being my first time I was pretty nervous to begin with, but my first day with these kids was more than a little unexpected. I was expecting terrors who wouldn't shut up or sit down, but what I got was a room full of serious kids who were on time, polite and quiet... too quiet. They just sat there and loomed at me in silence. For the first few days I couldn't figure out if they were getting anything. No one answered questions or asked questions. I quickly adjusted my approach and started forcing participation by putting them on the spot in as fun and positive a way as possible. Before the week was out they were laughing and joking with me and seemed to be getting the material down.

In the final analysis I had a great first experience and developed some great lesson plans. I learned a ton of new info while I was researching those lesson plans, too. When I was developing those plans I showed them to my professor, Shawn Crystal, who liked them enough to allow me to present a few of them to his class when I was his Teaching Assistant in the Fall.

Fall Teaching Internship
I did a Teaching Internship with Shawn Crystal for Visual Story Telling 1. I was actually a little disappointed to find out that there were only 4 students in the class, but in many ways that turned out to be great. It gave me a chance to try out my teaching techniques on a small group where I could gauge the results pretty easily. Shawn gave me a lot of great feedback and guidance and gave me a lot of class time to do several of the same lesson plans that I did in the Summer Seminar (with some changes and improvements). He also asked me to develop a digital painting presentation. Digital painting is still fairly new to me, but I was able to pass on the little bit that I have picked up over the last 6-9 months.

This was one of the best experiences that I've had in Grad school. Thanks to Shawn, and thanks to the students who actually made this a really positive experience. I hope you got as much out of the class as I did.

In the Spring I'm going to be living in Savannah, GA for a few months to do another teaching internship, this time with the irrepressible John Larison for Visual Story Telling 2 which should be a nice follow up to Shawn's class.


Shawn Crystal said...

Thanks to you Pat! You were an integral part of that class.

ChrisNeuenschwander said...

Finally getting out there and teaching? great to hear Pat! Now lets see some more art... haha