by Secondary Art Teacher, Josiah Phelps
Art has always been a passion of mine. I knew it was a career path when I was a little boy. My philosophy is everyone can be taught some form of art. We all have a gift that we have to explore and unlock. When I teach, I let my middle school and high school students know I wouldn’t give them anything they could not handle. I always begin with the history of the subject that teaches them the foundation of the assignment. This gives the students a clear idea of what to expect when they are working. Each famous artist had to start at the beginning.
When I started teaching at Seattle Christian, I was very nervous of what I was getting into with the students. My thoughts were “Will they have the drive to learn how to use their creative side?” After the first few weeks, I began to see their excitement in their work. Fellow teachers were telling me how students were in their History or Literature classes drawing and doing art assignments. I even had a few parents come to me and say “I watch my son work on art for six hours instead of playing video games,” or “I’ve never seen him so engaged and excited for art”. These comments let me know that God placed me here at Seattle Christian for a reason and I made the right decision to teach here.
“In all the art classes I’ve taken here, I not only learned a lot of new art technique and theory, but I also learned new ways of looking at art as a whole. Mr. Phelps pushes me and the other students to branch out and put our best effort into our assignments. Because of that I’ve grown so much as an artist and have produced my best works in his classes.” Ashley Gramann, Junior
In my art program, the first thing I do is put faith in my students. I always make them aware they have to potential to do any work that is given to them if they put in the effort. When students first enter my classes, they automatically say, “I’m bad at art” or “Art is hard, but it’s an easy A”. I tell them, “Thirty minutes to an hour at home will improve your skills tremendously and it’s not an easy A”. By the middle of the semester they are talking about how they’ve signed up for another art course for next semester.
Another thing that I do is push students to do their best. The word “can’t” is a not vocabulary word in my classes, so there are no excuses if students truly work hard. I am always there to guide them if they seem to not understand the assignment or skill. I always ask “What is something you all would like to learn in this class?” and most say the basics like “drawing a portrait” or “just to be able to draw in general”. I make sure that I hold myself to that goal in teaching those students what they expect from my courses.
When I was in college, I learned how constructive criticism “focuses on providing constructive feedback, supported by specific examples, to help you improve in some area”. Constructive criticism should be offered in a friendly manner with good intentions. When I teach at Seattle Christian, I teach constructive criticism so students can learn and support one another. I make sure students only say good critiques to help boost the confidence in their peers. By doing this, my students now have the drive and faith in themselves to produce their best work.
“Art has never been my strongest subject, but over the course of my class with Mr. Phelps, my skills have grown exponentially. He drew out the artist in me and made me appreciate the subject of art.” Brett Richard, Junior