JULIE NISKANENTeaching
 
           
           
           
     
Teaching Philosophy
   
           
              Being immersed in an art environment is completely energizing and the art classroom, studio, or gallery, provides the best opportunity to share my love of art with others, and help them set out on their own art journey. As both an artist and teacher, I bring knowledge, experience, and dedication, along with enthusiasm and sense of humor into the classroom. As a highly energetic person, my approach aims to keep students interested and engaged in the learning process.

        The most important role of a teacher is creating a positive, challenging, and stimulating learning environment. Students should be comfortable working at their own pace, while also being encouraged to explore and challenge themselves. As students are working in the studio they are guided to interact with each other to enhance their learning experience. Students are provided both group and one-on-one interaction. I have found that the one-on-one interactions help me to relate to my students on a more personal level.

        As students work through assignments, they teach themselves, and my role is to facilitate their learning. Teaching art is unlike teaching a subject in which every problem has an expected answer. In the art classroom, students practice conceptual building skills and search among a variety of solutions to each assignment. Art courses such as drawing and design help students develop analytical and critical problem solving skills, which are useful in other life situations. I help them acquire the techniques and tools they need to express their ideas and to find the process that inspires their greatest inventiveness and creativity. The classroom experience should help students become independent and self-motivated to explore and challenge themselves both in and outside of class. Once students have developed basic skills in a particular method, they are encouraged to find their own direction using assignments as a guideline. This allows them to explore, while allowing me to teach them how to clarify their ideas.

        Group critiques and individual discussions help students gain an understanding of what they are doing successfully, where they can improve, and what their work is communicating. Students are challenged to develop their concept visually while defending its relevance both historically and in contemporary art. By exposing students to contemporary art and art theories, they are better able to develop their own artistic vocabulary in the context of the current critical art world, and understand visual communication’s role in society.

        It is important to prepare students for the art world, not just academia, by providing them with useful tools for their professional art careers. By having students attend conferences, workshops, gallery openings, and other events, they will be more in tune with the contemporary art world. I strive for excellence and push professionalism in the classroom. In the studio each student is held to a high standard; each student must keep the studio clean and respect the studio equipment and supplies that are shared by others. Students are taught how to take slides, mat and frame, enter shows, apply for grants and residencies, apply for graduate schools or jobs, and to practice good craftsmanship.

        I have lived in several areas of the country, and have traveled enough to be appreciative of the diverse academic, socio-economic and ethnic variety that students bring to the classroom. This rich variety of backgrounds adds an important element to learning experiences in group settings. Each person brings with them a unique experience, perspective, and way of thinking, which contributes to a dynamic and exciting learning environment. To address this diverse environment in the classroom and reach each individual student and his or her particular learning style, a variety of teaching tools are used, such as giving slide lectures, critiques, demonstrations, showing successful and unsuccessful examples, and one-on-one discussions. A fluid teaching approach can help fill a gap of understanding if a student is struggling to keep up, or encourage exploration beyond the basic assignment if a student is working at a more advanced level. Ideally, teaching methods should adapt to each student’s needs, facilitating learning and providing useful tools that can be applied in many aspects of life.