Professional Learning

3 Key Lessons I’ve Learned From My Students

Before I started teaching for AOE, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what it would be like. I imagined myself reading long, boring papers. I thought that I would have to work hard to get participants to talk about their experiences in the classroom. I figured I would be the one giving the best advice to the participants in the class. Boy, was I wrong! Today I’m sharing the three biggest lessons that my AOE students have taught me.

Lesson 1: Data doesn’t have to be boring.

I used to think that data would always be presented in bland, boring ways until I started teaching our Showing Student Growth in Art class. Just because we are asked to track and show data doesn’t mean we can’t add some creativity to it! Take a look at these not-so-boring examples of data from class participants Wendy Schlotterbeck and Anne Cummings.

art room data

art room data

Lesson 2: iPads aren’t only for making art.

I expected to see a bunch of wonderful examples of digital artwork created by our students in our iPads and Advanced iPads classes. However, I was also pleasantly surprised with the creative ideas shared on how we can use iPad apps in our instruction as well. Look at this fantastic example from Jessica Fong who used an app to teach her students about her brilliant classroom routine for hand washing.
supply care

Lesson #3: Taking notes and lesson planning can be creative activities.

I’ve always been one to take notes in a bit of a traditional way. Interacting with art teachers from all over the world in our classes shows everyone new and exciting ways of learning and teaching. For example, Lynn Fournier recently shared her journal page notes with her section of the Autism and Art class.
AOE Class Notes
And look at the unique lesson plan format that was shared by Sarah Frances Smith in our Rethinking Kindergarten class.
Rethinking Kindergarten Lesson
After teaching AOE classes, I now know that the best ideas in the class come from the participants themselves. Everyone, including myself, is both a teacher and a student in the class. There are no long, boring papers. Instead there are relevant, creative assignments that can be applied to the classroom right away. Participants come away not only with their own work, but with all of the ideas from their peers as well. I know my own teaching has improved from being able to work with all the wonderful art teachers taking the AOE courses I have facilitated. I’d encourage you to try one out!

Class participants, tell us, what were YOUR biggest misconceptions about taking an AOE Class? 

What has been your favorite AOE assignment?


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.

More from Jessica