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As long time dept. chair for 2 high schools and 3 middle schools, I (and my
school and county) see my dept chair role as setting standards, expectations,
and a vision for the art programs, then helping my teachers buy into the
vision and gain the skills to meet expected standards. It is also the dept.
chair's job to see that the county's art curriculum is taught consistently
across all schools.
You are the department chair, insist that the teacher begin to include units
which use observational drawing (from life), art history, aesthetics and art
If you anticipate resistance, talk with your administration first to get their
Help the teacher make the transition by giving suggestions of how to transfer
a couple of her/his current units to a drawing from life basis and perhaps
even bring her/him the materials to do it with -- for example a wonderful
grouping of still life objects, and an outline of the new lesson plan and a
unit on drawing the human figure from life - gesture series then longer 15
minute drawings etc. then a culminating asignment using student's gesture
drawings -- maybe a grouping of them in the teacher's favorite, pastel?
Expect it to be a continous process and don't expect the teacher to change all
Maybe the teacher hesitates to change because he/she doesn't have time to
replan her lessons, maybe it's fear of taking the risk, or maybe it's just
because he/she doesn't know how to do it differently.
Your role as dept. chair probably should include setting standards and
expectations for instruction within your dept. and helping your teachers gain
the skills to meet those standards. If you aren't clear on your
administration's expectations for the dept. chair role, you may want to
clarify their vision of the role before approaching the teacher.
Another factor is curriculum. Do you have a written curriculum for drawing
classes which includes drawing from life, art history, aesthetics, art
criticism and any additional school system expectations? If so, the teacher
should be meeting the expectations set forth in the curriculum. If not, that
could be part of the answer to your problem; write a curriculum that adheres
to National and State arts standards and county/school expectations, then
expect your teachers to teach the curriculum.
A well written curriculum will guide what students should leave the course
knowing , but still give teachers freedom in selecting instructional methods
to teach the curriculum. In our school system we say that currriculum is
tightly held (we must teach it) but instructional methodology is loosely held
(teachers great freedom in how they teach the curriculum).