Giving Up Control, One Choice at a Time

When I go to a restaurant, I often tell myself: You can have the bread basket or the wine, but not both. Choose one. This ‘either or’ method works well in many circumstances. Every day we make important choices that have long term ramifications, both in our life, and in the art room. If I decided to have the bread, wine and dessert, it would be fine, but isn’t practical every single day. Likewise, if I decided to go for the salad with no dressing, it would seem too restrictive.



So, how does this apply to the menu of choices we give our students each day in the art room?

Sometimes we have all the control, and it’s a “follow me” experience. Other times your students are engaged in free choice time and students are lost with no direction, and they all end up choosing the stamping markers because they are so cool. Of course, there are a million places you could land in-between. In fact, the majority of art teachers are somewhere in between this spectrum. But are you happy with where you are at? Could you push students to new levels with a different approach?

In AOE’s new online class “Choice Based Art Education” we’re taking the mystery out of choice and helping you see how it can be adapted to any art room. What if your art room will felt more like a studio? What if your students were regarded as artists, but the level of choice was flexible to your unique art room?

Like most things, choice in the art room isn’t a one size fits all process.

We have gathered resources from some of the best (new and old) pedagogy from all over the world that focuses on student-centered learning. Some may be very familiar, and others will be new to you.

One thing is for sure, when you leave this class, you will also leave behind the fear of designing a student-centered classroom.

I know many of you have heard of colleagues in the art ed world who have ‘transformed their art rooms into a full-fledged, what they would call, “choice-based art room” – This can be scary. This might not be for you – or it might – but you need to realize it isn’t all or nothing. The transition won’t happen overnight, and you may not be able to meet your school’s state or national standards, or your local assessment requirements, without some modifications that are personalized for you!


“Choice Based Art Education” is the perfect online class for teachers who:

  • Are sitting on the fence, feeling their students need something new, but not sure where to start.
  • Have a Pinterest feed filled with ‘beautiful” art projects, but don’t feel the creative process is shining in their classroom.
  • Are looking for ways to authentically assess students through not only the product but the process of art creation.
  • Are generally interested in educational pedagogy and want to stay up-to-date with new methodologies in art education.
  • Already have a good foundation in their own student centered classroom, but want to develop and refine.

If adding more choice to your art room is something you have been wanting, and you need to earn CEU’s, PDP’s, contact hours, or grad credit, consider taking “Choice Based Art Education” soon! The course is worth 3 Degree Level Graduate Credits, or 120 Contact Hours. See the complete course schedule and offerings right here.


Do you feel your students have enough choices?

What are the barriers for you? Successes? 


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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