Notes on Teaching, Fall 2022.

Wednesday August 24th 2022.

Notes on Teaching. 

What is your Practice?

What is your Scholarship?

How do you create the space of the creative, community, care, focus, attention and discipline in a room together? How do you make sure each student is seen and heard? How do you teach from your practice, how do you learn from your practice to teach? How do you learn from your students to become a listener, to respond, to teach, to care and foster a place of belonging and working together in a safe space. 

Remind the students you are a human being, remind the students you may make mistakes, you may not know the answer to a question they have. The space of 15 or 14 weeks together allows for them and you to learn together, to see together and to grow together. 

I have often found that maybe someone doesn’t respond to the assignment in a way you thought – this is okay, or the student is going through a process. Think of introductions, assignments, critique, field trips, visiting artists, readings, workshops, emails, lunch, end of the class as a creative opportunity for them and you. Think of constraints as creative. I have always used the time as a collaborator in my classes. What is it to choreograph 3hrs, 6hrs, 15 weeks. How does each student introduce themselves to the class in 3 minutes? How do you critique through a creative response of a drawing, a text, an image. How do you critique in 13 minutes? How do you tell the class they have a ten minute break but you know it’s really 15 minutes. How do you tell a class they have 15 minutes of critique but actually the timer on your phone is set to 12 minutes so you can critique each student fairly in one day, all having the same amount of time. 

Allow a voice to enter the classroom. I always say the teacher is always watching. You may have a class with quiet people, you might have a class that is chatty. You might have someone who is quiet, someone who distances themselves from you. You might think they have a problem with you, you might think they hate you. Quietly approach them, check in on them, make sure you are seeing them, they might still push back but the note of seeing is so important. Remember resources of Academic Advising, Wellness Centre, Dean on Call, your chair, admin team, student affairs, You are not alone. 

CARE, COMMUNITY, KINDNESS AND SUPPORT. 

Remember this is an ART SCHOOL. This is a rare and unique space. Remember the strange, the weird. Be generative. Know you may need to change things around. At semester end maybe go over all you have done together in the classroom as a review. Remember they are anxious, you are anxious, we are all coming from so many different backgrounds, locally, nationally and internationally. 

One Tip, I learnt from Lin Hixson, if you have a teaching assistant, or if you don’t have one, make a weekly summary of what happens in the classroom and also the homework. Doing this has cut down on emails for me dramatically over the week. Let them know you are available, let them know in an era of on demand it might take you 48 hrs or more to respond. That’s okay. You may wish to tell them you are at school one day a week and you do ‘x’ amount of other things – again we are all human beings. Maybe someone is late for class, maybe someone has not done their homework, that’s okay. Create the space you wish to have in the room you are making in. 

Create the tone. Allow for the creative, joy, grief, anxiety, trauma, love, complexity, difficulty, understanding, quiet, process, suggestions, disruptions, interruptions and the unknown to seep into the space. 

As the day or night begins, make room for one another. 

love,

mark jeffery

Chair and Full Professor, Performance

SAIC. 

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