Art Survival Guide to Teaching Online

Middle School Art teacher, Melody Weintraib was asked to write an article for the Tennessee Arts Academy about teaching Art Online.  Please enjoy!
All across the world, teachers are scrambling for lessons and scoops for teaching online in the wake of our unexpected and unprecedented closures. At the same time, parents and grandparents are scrambling for ideas to keep children intellectually entertained at home. Children in social isolation are also looking for things to keep them from boredom as the newness of an extended Spring Break begins to wear off and unexpressed worries about our global crisis begins to affect their moods.

Students need the Arts more than ever. Period. And, it is up to us as Art Educators to beef up our technology skills as we look for innovative ways to provide the tools our students need to let their unique expressive voices continue to successfully shout.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to attend or present at TAA, or other arts workshops and conferences, probably had no idea at the time, how important that learning would become in March 2020. Since we know now, we need to devour all of the info we can from our colleagues as we venture into this uncharted territory.
Even before my school went online, I began uploading new art lesson tutorials on my YouTube Channel. Instead of waiting to share it only with my students, I posted it publicly on social media, and not just with my art teaching colleagues. I shared it with all of my social media friends and family. Many of whom were already asking for ideas. I recognized this as a powerful way to advocate for the arts, and several of my friends, in turn, continued the advocacy by sharing my posts with others. I then decided to blog a weekly newsletter on my website , and to let this newsletter be an, “Art Survival Guide,” a pseudonym coined by my 7th Grade Artists for their newly-constructed homemade sketchbooks (see the link below for making your own sketchbook). In this blog, I offer four words as guidelines for successfully teaching online: Environment, Enthusiasm, Energy and Engagement.

Test out the space where you’re teaching (your laptop view) that students will see. Make it an inviting and dedicated zone. Pay special attention to the lighting, especially if you are showing them a skill. You want to make sure that what you are demonstrating is clearly visible.

Keep a positive attitude about this process! Dress like you do for school. It will give your students a sense of normalcy. 

Try to keep the momentum up. But, don’t feel the need to “perform.” Watch your pacing. Plan like crazy, but be flexible if they seem unprepared. Always have modifications for your lesson ready to go.

Get feedback often, whether it’s verbal or in the form of a chat. Ask direct questions, let them offer ideas for lessons. If you involve students in the process, they will be more likely to stay “tuned in.” Differentiate instruction. Don’t simply lecture.
And Upon Reflection…
Most webinar-type online resources, offer a “Recording” option. I found this a valuable tool to use to reflect on the presentation. After re-watching my lesson, I used it to write out a reflection of the successful as well as the challenging aspects of the online class time.
When designing your lessons, I’m sure you are taking into consideration that students may have limited supplies and resources at home, however, you may need to help them think of alternative resources and assignments.
See the following links for some of my art teaching tutorials that students can manage from home. I’m uploading more daily.:
How to Draw a Selfie --
How to Make a Sketchbook --
How to Draw in One-Point Perspective --
How to Draw in Two-Point Perspective --
How to Draw and Shade a Shape to Form --
How to Draw Using a Grid --
How to Make a Pop-Up Card --
How to Shade Watercolor Over Graphite --
Macramé Knotting Made Simple --
Melody Weintraub is the President of the Tennessee Art Education Association (TAEA). She was named 2014 Tennessee Middle School Art Educator of the Year by TAEA. She is a frequent contributor to SchoolArts Magazine, and has presented several workshops and lectures at the National Art Education Association Convention and several state conventions. She has also been an Interlude presenter at TAA. She teaches Middle School Art at Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, TN. 

Website and Blog:
Twitter and Instagram: @tnartteacher