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Our society is continually telling us, “Be yourself!” And this is often a statement we share with our students. But, in the modern age of social media and the digital world, authenticity can be a difficult concept to grasp. Being yourself isn’t about standing out or being different, it’s about being true to who you are.
As art teachers, it’s important for us to be authentic in our teaching not only for our students but also for ourselves. Being authentic is about finding your path that stays true to who you are without worrying about how you compare to other art teachers.
Authenticity is all about identity and staying true to what you believe. It’s important to build an authentic classroom environment. It is one way to build relationships with your students because they trust you and see you as a “real” person. When we can teach our students in a truly authentic way, transformative experiences can occur in the art room.
Think back to when you first decided to become an art teacher. Why did you choose this path? What was your “Why”? Is your “Why” the same now? If it isn’t, examine how it has changed. Has the shift in mindset changed because you have grown into your career or has it been influenced by others? Shifting who you are as an individual or teacher isn’t going to make your classroom environment better. Our students are often brutally honest, and they can pick up on artificiality. If we truly want to create a positive classroom environment, we need to forge our own paths.
Art teachers have an amazing online community where we share and collaborate daily. Whether it be on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, art teachers are always sharing new ideas and concepts that work in their classrooms. It’s amazing that art teachers do this, but have you noticed the constant reproduction of concepts?
We can often get caught up in a technique or a project simply because it looks fun or cool. We implement it right away without even thinking about how it fits into our curriculum. Just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean you need to try it out, too. First, think about how this truly impacts and benefits your students. Are you doing it for them or because all the other art teachers are doing it?
Have you ever scrolled through an art teacher’s Instagram feed with envy because of how perfect everything looks? I know I have. We often only share our successes and triumphs. It’s human nature to do so. We don’t want our peers to know we have failed. Let go of the pressure of comparing yourself to another teacher; chances are they aren’t showing you the mishaps along the way.
It’s important to remember art teachers all have different personalities. We might share some similar features, but we are not the same. What works in one teacher’s classroom may not work in yours, and that’s okay. Alleviate yourself from the pressure by not comparing yourself to others!
Every art teacher is different. It can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends and fads we see others doing in their art room. As long as you are staying true to yourself, you’ll continue to foster authentic learning for your students.
Why do you think it’s essential to build a culture of authenticity?
Do you find you are often comparing yourself to other teachers because of social media?
The NOW Conference is the world’s largest online conference for art educators! This one-day event (join us live or watch on-demand for an entire year) features 20+ inspiring and innovative TED TALK-style presentations covering topics that are relevant right NOW in Art Ed!