“Technique is very important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see” Henri Cartier Bresson
The journey of the student learner is filled with personal growth and discovery, difficulties and challenges, but success is always within the student’s reach. There is balance between guiding the learning process and teaching a student to take responsibility for his or her own education. The core of my teaching strategy is to provide challenge, mentor effectively, promote critical thinking and respect individuality.
A firm technical foundation is an important beginning to photographic image making. During the first few weeks of class, students learn the fundamentals techniques of the core subject area. This is a magical and challenging time in my classes and students are always amazed that light creates a latent image that can be brought to life though chemistry and/or digital processing. Once a student feels comfortable with the technical processes involved in photography, they become free to investigate and evaluate the imagery and ideas contained in that product.
I believe that students learn best when they take an active role in their own education. Students gain their intellectual independence through active involvement rather than passive reception. Behind my lectures and classroom discussions is a conviction that the practice of photography is a liberating activity. I believe that every photograph has the potential to communicate and express and students are encouraged to play freely with their imaginations, to experiment and to sometimes break the rules. Students in my classes enjoy a sense of intellectual community. I have found that when students feel responsible to the entire class of student learners they feel as though their contributions have more value and it dignifies their efforts.
Students learn best when they are actively engaged. One of my greatest attributes as an effective teacher is the enthusiasm and energy I bring to the classroom. In addition to being an effective educator, I am also an exhibiting artist and photographer and frequently share my work in progress (as well as past work) with students. I believe that my multi-faceted experience, in and out of the classroom builds credibility and trust as students are interested in the complete picture. My enthusiasm for the photographic arts does translate with students into a positive learning environment. I encourage students to keep a journal and write down ideas as they have formulated. Journal records enable a student to repeat positive results and help troubleshoot problems that might occur.
My instructional method explores the relationship between photography and other art media. I actively strive to make my classrooms a supportive environment in which students feel encouraged to take intellectual and creative risks. The best learning occurs when students feel comfortable and safe with their teacher and their peers. Classroom critiques and discussion are important elements of my class and I encourage, solicit and require student participation. I believe that if I want students to open their ideas, beliefs and values for self-inspection then they have to feel safe with me. That means trusting me to respect their ideas, avoid embarrassing them when they speak up in class, and to care about what happens to them both inside and outside the classroom.