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Using Art to Reach

The success of any curriculum is heavily dependent on the delivery by the teacher.  It is the teacher who creates the dialogue between the written standards and students.  William Arthur Ward says that “the mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” After teaching students who are considered low achievers and at-risk for several years I have used this quote to motivate me.  My understanding of my role is that I must teach, but most importantly I must reach my students.
The story of Lawrency is just one of many that I have experienced in trying to reach my students.  When each new batch of students arrives in my class I begin to work towards reaching each of them.  The nature of being an art teacher allows me to dialogue with them as a group and individually on all matters.  I use these conversations to get to know them and work on inspiring them as a group and as individuals.  Lawrency came with the usual poor self-esteem and lack of confidence; emotional at times and generally a feeling that much is not expected of him.  However, he fell in love with art since it provided tangible evidence of success.  As he carried out his projects he began to develop some critical thinking skills and most importantly perseverance.  One of the best transformations was the nurturing of belief in himself.  Lawrency, though he had learning difficulties, with what seems like dyslexia being chief among them developed a determination that spread to other subject areas.  He quickly learned skills in the art class and he was able to help instruct other students in what he had learned.  This simple act empowered him. He even challenged my own skills by experimenting with alternative techniques. I also gave him responsibility at times to take care of the art room and trusted him to be there on his own. 

The boost to his self-esteem was astounding.  He took pride in his projects and enjoyed showing them off to his parents and everyone.  It was even shocking to me when I carried out a video interview with him to hear how clearly he was able to articulate his experiences in the art room.  Lawrency stands on the verge of leaving secondary school but has hope and prospects for the future in utilizing his artistic skills.
Lawrency tells his story Link - http://youtu.be/P31Yr8HlhGg