Everyartist Champion Samantha Holland from Woodbridge, Illinois
“Mrs. Holland’s Opus”
Rich in natural beauty, Woodbridge, Illinois is on high ground overlooking the DuPage River, populated by stands of oaks and maples and a bustling community of 32,000 people.
One of those is Samantha Holland, an Everyartist Local Champion, who teaches K-4 art education. Young and beginning her family, Mrs.Holland is a long way from the end of her career, but she is making her students love art and her in the process. She has big plans ahead. She is expecting her second child in the fall and is working on a Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) choice-based classroom for the fall.
Other plans for her classes include technology skills such as flipped videos and hyperdocs, to make learning more accessible for all. Holland is rightfully proud seeing the love of art come alive in her students and fellow staff members. “We are a big arts community now here at school. Teachers instill the love of art as well and we all support one another. “
From her website “Mrs. Holland’s Art Room” which currently holds 51 flipped teaching videos, it is evident that Samantha Holland loves teaching art and her students love her teaching art to them. Everyartist is certain, when the day comes for her retirement, Mrs. Holland’s opus will be a lifetime of art enthusiasm from every student who meets her.
Here is Everyartist interview with Samantha Holland.
1. Everyartist: Is your school a STEAM or STEM school? Why and how do you support that philosophy?
Samantha Holland: Our school is currently a STEM school, although we have discussed using the term STEAM several times. I know as a school we are open to adding Art and acknowledging it in projects that students do. But since we go to competitions with other schools, it is easier to call it STEM and have a STEM night. I support STEAM and use several resources that are available online and share with the staff on how they could implement art into their classrooms as well. I know things, especially change, takes time, which is why I know one day the term STEAM will stick.
2. Everyartist: What is the single easiest or best way you spark creativity in your students?
S. Holland: The single best way for me is giving them choice…Find their passion, their muse. I teach elementary students, K-4. I love giving a lesson and the guidelines and having them add their own twist to it. We recently did dragon eyes in 3rd grade. Students were able to choose their own texture and design for their eye, and the quality of the work that came out because of their choice just shows how much of a difference choice can make in a process. I also gave them the opportunity to animate their dragon eyes on some iPads and it was wonderful to see them really take into account how they wanted the lids to be in their animation. You can view some of my flipped videos on my YouTube channel at: youtube.com/mrshollandartroom. I also have a few finished pieces from my students on our school’s art show posted on my Twitter account @GWarftroom.
3. Everyartist: What do you think most often blocks our students or us creatively?
S. Holland: A variety of things can block our creativity. I think all of us go through this… mostly though, the fear of failure. I think we all want to be perfect or have something look just right in order for us to accept it. I try to instill in my students that it’s not a matter of perfection, but rather how it looks to them and that they tried. I don’t want to see artwork that “looks” exactly like examples I might have shown. In fact, I do not have my examples posted so that students can create their own masterpiece. I always ask for them to make, “Beautiful Oops” (book by Barney Saltzberg) see Curator’s Corner or look at other artists like Picasso and ask themselves what would have happened if Picasso did listen to what others said about his artwork? Would he be as famous as he is today?
I think kindness and my passion for driving that love of creativity, helps my students feel “safe” in my classroom. I am always working on pushing my students to feel proud of what they accomplish themselves and their own artistic expression.
4. Everyartist: Do you feel it is important to make art in every classroom? Why or why not?
Samantha Holland: That question is a little challenging for me. I feel in regular classrooms students should be given a choice on projects to express themselves. I think you will get a much broader sense of understanding from a student if they can show their knowledge by building something, or creating a stop motion scene, play/script, or a poster. If given the choice of how to express their knowledge I think students will surprise us with what they know because they are engaged in the process.
In my classroom, I like to give a lot of free choice in what students are doing. They have a set skill I would like them to accomplish, but I find the atmosphere and energy in the room to be much more manageable and positive when students are able to do things they enjoy and love versus being boxed in. I also offer for students to be able to stand at their seats and talk to one another. I read a great article from The Art of Ed discussing having other students come to the rescue of a student that needs an idea. Sometimes I use that if necessary, or I sit down and speak with the students about what they enjoy. I also allow students to draw ideas or inspirations from their Chromebooks. I am one who cannot draw from memory, so I do not expect my students to do the same. I find if I show them how to break up small pieces of a drawing then they can be more successful. In turn, it’s a life lesson. Take small bits out of big things and you will accomplish more.
5. Everyartist: If you had a magic wand or special power to make your school into a more magical place…what would you do?
S. Holland: If I had a magic wand, I would have an art room with full windows, letting in a lot of natural light. I’d also have an even larger room than I do now to allow more choice learning stations and makerspaces with green screen spaces for options to do both digital and regular art. Overall, I am very lucky with what I have and blessed to be an art teacher. I truly missed it when I was teaching ESL for four years.