The Choreographer of Instruction begins with an end goal in mind. Backwards design allows the educator to maintain control in guiding students to desired results by mapping each step and anticipating challenges students may face. Clear, focused, and measurable goals allow for student success. Lesson objectives should be established with state and national learning standards in mind. An imaginative and thought-provoking hook and engaging demonstrations and lectures place the teacher as a performer, while guiding questions further elicit student curiosity. When planning instruction, the teacher must be prepared to lead students towards meeting learning objectives, while equipped to navigate any twists and turns that may arise throughout the process. While the choreographer may have mapped all of the steps, each student as an individual learner will follow at his or her own pace and ability.
At the time of my graduate studies in education a new set of National Core Arts Standards have been released. Falling under the four processes of Creating, Performing, Responding and Connecting, the new standards help in reimagining art as a subject which teaches a range of limitlessly applicable skills, while emphasizing the importance of the arts as a subject rich in history and self-expression. The greatest defeat students face in the art room occurs when the end goal of learning is a product. An emphasis must be placed on process over product in order to focus the learning itself as the objective of a lesson. Not all students, realistically very few at all, will move forward from a K-12 art education to art school or careers in the fields of art and design. Units of study are not designed to necessarily create artists, but to initiate students in experiences through which they develop a strong visual literacy, solid communication skills, and the freedom of creating.
In teaching new skills, whether in working with new materials or in beginning a new process of investigation into the arts, I aim to make room for experimentation, trial and error and the space for students to construct their own understandings rather than simply adopting prescribed methods. Masterfully planned lessons serve as a skeleton from which the interaction between students, teacher, and material animate the content. At that point the lesson takes on a life of its own. A first grader asks if everything is art and I stop class and open up discussion. And that brief detour opens the lesson and every lesson from there on out to a new angle of consideration.