How art teachers teach online

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To comply with COVID-19 regulations, junior high students cannot do makeup on other students and must paint on paint heads in class, as is seen here with Jazmyn Horowitz. While it is not the same as painting on a human face, the adjustments are there to make it still as realistic as possible (Photo/Mrs. Dawson)

COVID-19 has revolutionized the way that teachers are instructing with the resulting shift to online learning. On average, teachers report they are spending an additional 10 hours a week working compared with “normal” years. Many teachers now have their curriculums functioning in two forms, one for the virtual students and one for the in-person students.

For example, some use arrangements like labs that combine in-person and online students into partnerships and format notes to be available online. However, teachers with hands-on curriculums, most expressively in the arts, are experiencing a greater degree of difficulty and have created multiple alterations to adjust to these changes.

Drawing I, Visual Concepts, Art Mixed Media and Art 2D teacher Mrs. Christy Williams has attained a positive attitude despite the complications presented to her. “Technology has made teaching the visual arts doable in the respect that teachers are able to mirror and present live demonstrations. Skills are being taught just as if the student were in the room,” Mrs. Williams said. 

She still acknowledged that there was a major difficulty due to her inability to give instant feedback relating to her student’s accomplishment of any given task.

Different modifications were required for each class. Drawing I and Virtual Concepts are now a completely online drawing process, using technical tools and instruction. However, she deemed that Mixed Media cannot be taught online due to its wide variety of materials needed to complete each project, rendering it unavailable as a class this school year. 

Although the transition has been difficult due to the rapid necessity for teachers to adjust to teaching online, her classes have settled into a new routine. Ultimately, she attributes Google Classroom to the great success and ultimate ease of online teaching. She now uses it in all of her class management systems and states that she will continue using this resource even when in-person learning returns.

As a student who has been in online and in-person art classes, junior Noa Tako shares her perspective. “In my opinion, they haven’t really changed. A lot of the art classes don’t have a concurrent and long-distance option since you can’t do it. However, I was able to do Design, which uses photoshop, which you can do on your own computer,” Tako said.

Stage Makeup I, II, III and face painting teacher Mrs. Ellen Dawson shared her perspective of creating a class so dependent on hands-on learning. For her, the major change is how the class became purely demonstrational. 

“I am not allowed to help students hold their brush, feel the correct direction of a brush stroke or physically help them any more,” said Mrs. Dawson.

Certain aspects of the class remained the same, as students only have to purchase small items, like scissors and spray bottles, and have a time restraint in class for practice. Homework can still be submitted as students now do paint demonstrations at their home.

Usually, students would be able to paint on a real live face, but now they have homework that simulates these activities. However, now the junior high students must paint on paint heads, mock styrofoam heads that emanate real faces, while high school students must age on a plastic makeup sheet. 

Another major change is the classes’ interaction with stage and makeup in the theater. Usually, Mrs. Dawson’s students would do makeup for the theater department for their plays. However, now, students are unable to work backstage and cannot learn how to do a live show since they are not allowed to touch anybody. The actors are learning how to do their makeup themselves with help from Mrs. Dawson’s videos and guidance.

Yet, Mrs. Dawson views the bright side of this situation as well, saying that she is still learning how to make everything work the best she can.

 “I think it takes something like this to remind us that we can be successful in anything we do and we can find ways to teach others and be a team no matter what. I know there has been a lot of bad in this situation, but the good that has come out of this is incredible,” she said.

Eva, a junior at American Heritage School, is starting her first year as a writer for the Patriot Post. She enjoys all things literature and is part of many clubs including the National Honor Society, Key Club and Black Student Union. When she is not studying, she is at swim practice or watching Netflix.

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