Walking into my classroom, it all goes away. For the hour, or two or three, that I’m in class, the rest of the world dissolves. My students and whatever I’m teaching become my universe.
For me, whether I’m teaching something old or new, class is an adventure of discovery, and I want it to be the same for my students. It’s my goal to inspire excitement, curiosity, and wonder; to stimulate creativity and critical thinking beyond the boundaries of my course; and to give students skills and knowledge that they can use for a lifetime. I always encourage students to open their minds and absorb everything because you never know how what from Art History might serve you — for example, I once had a student win a national shoe design contest with a color palette inspired from the Islamic gardens we studied.
I love organizing events and field trips that introduce students to artists and archaeologists, museum and gallery environments, art, architecture, and design, and, sometimes even, once-in-a-lifetime moments of awe. Beyond the traditional classroom, we might go on scavenger hunts, sketch and photograph, experiment with new technologies, try hands-on studio projects, observe religious rituals, and just get outdoors to contemplate nature. I’m always on the lookout for new experiences to enhance our understanding of art.
When I teach online, I work hard to maintain a sense of human contact. One of the most effective teaching tools I use is Voicethread.com, through which everyone can record and share comments in oral conversations. I also allow students to customize their learning through an array of options for their online learning content and research. So that online students don’t feel “alone” in their experiences, they also share and discuss their learning though discussion boards and constructive peer reviews exercises. But I don’t keep my online courses strictly online. To prevent screen-time burnout, I incorporate some of the same tangible, first-person experiences (such as museum and mosque visits) that my face-to-face courses have. Overall, I’ve found that online courses foster deep learning, create memorable experiences, and leave a strong bond among participants.