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Teaching Philosophy

AUDREY ZOFCHAK

          I choose to teach because I want to be of service to others. As an educator, I acknowledge the exceptional issues that encompass an education in the fine arts. I work to prepare students with the skills and wherewithal that will lead to long-term success.

            I strive to be inclusive and remain present with my students. I do not teach a group but rather a group made of individuals. Understanding the difference is the baseline to successful teaching. I appreciate that each student has endless potential as well as a current place of knowledge tied to their personal experience. What makes my students different also gives them the very perspective that can make them wildly successful. I choose to base my lesson plans and examples around the work of contemporary artists and minority artists. I want all of my students to have access to role models and to know that careers in art and design are inclusive and can reflect their own culture and identity.

            I work to develop activities that foster a genuine sense of community. I find that fostering conversation from day one establishes a safe community and leads to more productive critiques. My intention with critiques is always two-fold, to gain feedback but also to develop vocabulary and the ability to articulate ideas effectively.   
 
            I aim to give my students a strong sense of agency. I want my students to find their place in the greater community. I provide information about local resources and encourage my students to be self-directed learners outside of the classroom. I organize field trips to local art clubs and exhibits that reaffirm such connections.

            I also make the effort to stay abreast of teaching pedagogy via professional development. I strive to embody a variety of learning styles by incorporating readings, visual references, discussions, demonstrations, short-term exercises, and long-term projects. I provide supplementary resources beyond what we have time to cover in-class. 

            I allow for risk and failure in my studio art courses. I find many students mistake accurate rendering and draftsmanship as the pinnacle of fine art. While such skills should be prioritized in an introductory course I also provide an overview of other considerations. I believe notions of concept and process should not be withheld for higher level courses but woven in with the basic fundamentals.
       
            I am both an artist and a teacher. These are not opposing forces in my life but rather congruent and embedded practices. I have come to realize that the energy I give as a teacher equals the experience and knowledge I gain. Enthusiasm is contagious.