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Vanessa Jirik, EdS

Educator, Innovator, & Problem Solver

I am a teacher leader who strives to learn, grow and serve the community of Lexington, Kentucky, and has done so for over 11 years. Get to know me a little better by looking over my site below.

Teaching Pedagogy

Artists create with intention and select the best materials and techniques to execute their vision. While working, they solve any problems that arise. They use subject matter that is personal and relevant to them. 

When educators examine the practice of artists, with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind, it's easy to see that most of their actions fall into creating, evaluating, and analyzing sections. These categories describe higher-level thinking, which is essential for artists to have to be successful.

In a typical art lesson, however; the teacher selects materials, sets the subject choice, selects the size. The teacher plans the process or technique, then teaches it to the students. The person doing the higher-level thinking is the teacher in this instructor-driven model. Most of the work looks good, (and identical) because the teacher planned it, but what was learned?

This thought process is what lead me to TAB practices. Students need to learn to think for themselves (with direction when needed). Art teachers can especially provide students with opportunities to make decisions themselves. Through this student-centered model, students are higher-level thinkers. Under TAB practices, the content will become more challenging and relevant for students.

Philosophy of Education

As a child I was always singled out as the “artist.” I was that one student in each class that could draw, or paint, or sculpt. Every year it was the same. On the one hand, I embraced it because I truly do love art. On the other hand, I often felt that teachers left my peers believing their artistic merit couldn’t measure up to mine. To me, that simply didn’t make any sense.

It wasn’t long until I became frustrated with this issue. When the class was asked to draw a picture, I often had classmates tell me that they couldn’t draw because their picture didn’t look anything like mine or because they simply “can’t draw.” This problem has been festering in my mind ever since. It has always been my firm belief that everyone can “draw” and that the differences in each person’s vocation are what makes art so intriguing.


Therefore, I have spent my whole life trying to open those around me to this idea. I believe that within each child rests a potential artist as unique as the children themselves. As an educator I will help students discover their artistic skills by providing an open environment, which supports risk-taking, sharing of ideas, and the individual choices and approaches of every student. Even if every student doesn’t love creating art, at least an appreciation for all artistic approaches can be taught.

If students are given the opportunity to express themselves as individuals, the classroom will become a space that nurtures respect and courtesy toward other people and ideas. Open discussion will encourage greater respect toward teachers, classmates, and the
curriculum presented.

Hands-on-activities and opportunity for experimentation with different media and materials will be a mainstay in my classroom. Allowing students to create their own project criteria will spark individual discovery and broaden their knowledge as best suited for them. By developing my curriculum this way, I will foster students’ passion to learn and be more likely to connect with my whole class on a personal level.

To be a triumphant educator takes more than awareness of procedure and ability to speak educational jargon. A good teacher is someone who possesses an unspoken appreciation of developmental stages, respects individual scholarship methods, and is willing to do all they can to reach a student. I want to fill each child with the understanding that they can learn the materials before them and that they can excel at anything they put their minds to.

I feel that W.B. Yeats said it best when he wrote: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” For me, the teacher’s role is to “light the kindling” each student has, and in doing so infuse a passion for learning and confidence in each and every child. Students have incomparable potential, and I want to help them uncover and pursue their talents in art and abroad.

& References

Below you can view a few recommendations on my behalf.

A full list of references is available upon request.

Teacher, Science Department,

Lafayette Senior High School,

Lexington, KY

Teacher, Visual Arts Department,

Lafayette Senior High School,

Lexington, KY

Korean School Classroom

Kiefer Shuler

Teacher, Visual Art and Theater Department, Henry Clay High School, Lexington, KY

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