In their first article, Kate Coleman and Abbey MacDonald shared examples of innovative practice by visual arts teachers in response to the COVID-19 restrictions. In this follow-up, they explore some of the resources to eventuate from the creative pressure cooker circumstances of the lockdown, and how they can be used to maximise studio time and student learning into the future.
Art teachers have been exemplary in their navigation and sense making of a new normal that is still coming into focus. As we head back into schools it is important to reflect on the insights learned through our approaches to, and experiences of, emergency teaching at home.
So, where to from here? How can we incorporate the transformations we have made and insights we have gained into our future teaching? What tools, strategies and resources have emerged from the creative pressure cooker circumstances created by COVID-19? Where might art teachers extend the aspects of their teaching and learning that have been successfully innovated to maximise studio time into the future?
The COVID crisis has necessitated extraordinary changes and unease for artists' and art teachers' practice and sense of purpose. They have had to quickly reimagine their means for connecting and communicating with each other. Transitions, shifts and developments (driven by setbacks, dilemmas and challenges) emerged daily across social media sites as teachers began to make, respond to and share their practice virtually.
Since March, we have seen our national and state-based associations and cultural institutions create digital hubs for connection, communication and innovation. Here are some of the spaces and resources to emerge during the lockdown that continue to grow and offer support for educators and students:
- Early in the pivot online, Art Education Australia kicked off an open collaborative Google Doc with a top 10 list of digital resources for teaching and learning at home. It continues to grow with 77 contributions made by teachers so far at https://tinyurl.com/yaw87nzu
- Across March and April, the state and territory visual art education professional associations shared a range of digital materials for teachers and students to support learning art at home. These professional associations continue to be excellent places to look to for resources, support, and opportunities and participate in collaborative problem-solving with art teaching colleagues across the country. Their social media feeds can all be accessed from their home pages: AENT (Northern Territory), AEV (Victoria), ArtEdWA (Western Australia), TATA (Tasmania), VADEA (New South Wales) and VAESA (South Australia).
- Looking for ways to navigate challenges of the digital divide and cater for diverse needs and accessibility, the Tasmanian Art Teachers Association (TATA) developed a resource bank for the community to assist with the teaching and learning of visual arts online, offline and off device. These can be found here https://tata.org.au/tata-covid19-resources/
- The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) in collaboration with the ABC launched #TogetherInArt to connect people through art in difficult times (https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/artboards/together-in-art/) which includes a suite of artist-led videos, including the hugely popular #TogetherinArtMaking drawing with Ben and Livvy Quilty
- The Museum of Contemporary Art's MCA Learning program launched ‘mca.art: an online experience', which enables the gallery to be accessed and explored virtually This resource provides a huge scope of inquiry options related to their suite of learning resources.
- The National Gallery of Australia's NGA Learning program (@nationalgallery.learning) has been very active on Instagram, curating and sharing art teaching and making resources via https://linktr.ee/nationalgallery.learning, as well as celebrating the practice of art teachers across the country via the #CreativeTeacher hashtag.
This list is in no way exhaustive and highlights a small sample of where to look for how art teachers are transforming their practice. Artists and art teachers demonstrate time and time again a tenacity and resolve that enables them to render themselves anew through problems, whilst modelling a generous entrepreneurial spirit and a preparedness to share strategies and support for others.
Our own experiences of teaching remotely and learning alongside teachers and students gifts us new insight and renewed appreciation for studio classrooms as hives of curiosity, innovation and imagination. The resources produced by artists and art teachers to ensure students can benefit from ongoing opportunities to access and participate in art experiences are testament to this. Through this, art teachers and students have shown us how the studio classroom can exist and thrive within, beyond and in between physical and digital domains of school, gallery and home.
In these art studio spaces and classrooms, whether converted or purpose built, teachers and students continue to develop and practice the attributes of agility, resilience, practicality, empathy, creativity and versatility. These are the professional attributes that guide artists' and art teachers' approaches to question, inquire, learn, adapt and transform through making and responding across the span of their professional careers.
Coupled with dynamic resources that have been developed by the Australian artist and art teaching community to support art making in, through and beyond COVID-19, we have been gifted a masterclass in how crisis can be a catalyst for innovation, resilience and artistry in education. It is with these attributes and resources that art teachers will continue to engage in pedagogical transformation and provide means for students to meaningfully engage in art beyond the complexities of circumstance.
The authors highlight several spaces and resources created to support teachers and students.
How often do you take advantage of the resources and expertise available in the community? What about professional associations? Have you thought about sharing your own resources and experiences with other teachers through these channels?