David Hazlett Teaching Philosophy

Art is capable of expanding self-awareness and, in turn, informing how we experience the world. As an art educator, my role is to foster a studio environment where reflection, dialogue, and collaboration are vehicles for authentic learning. In my classroom, I strive to balance the tasks of introducing a measurable set of artistic concepts, materials, and techniques while inviting each learner to bring forward his or her own unique tastes, sensibilities, and skills. I believe that the most informative and lasting knowledge is created when students witness and contribute to each other’s artistic endeavors.

The process of reflection and peer feedback is an integral component of artistic development. I use strategies for peer feedback adapted from Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. It offers an alternative to traditional critiques, with the benefit of promoting critical thinking, inquiry, and expression. During major projects, I ask my students to pause and reflect on the technical, conceptual, and aesthetic elements of their own work within the criteria of the assignment. Next, I prompt them to form questions about their work in order to solicit feedback from their peers. The resulting feedback is surprisingly focused, direct, and supportive. I have found that a thoughtful peer feedback session often plays a significant role in improving the clarity and depth of class discussions, as well as informing students’ current and subsequent work. By forming their own questions and by sharing their reflections and feedback with each other, students become intimately involved in their learning and discovery.

Many of my most cherished conversations, collaborations, and relationships have been grounded in art. I deeply enjoy working in my personal studio and teaching art in a classroom setting. In both spaces, I observe, plan, reflect, and practice being patient through setbacks. I attribute much of my growth and change as an artist and as an art educator to the joy I take in participating in a larger community of artists and teachers. 

As an art educator, I work toward two distinct outcomes for my students. First, I want them to gain a set of technical and observational tools to strengthen their visual literacy. Second, I hope that their experiences of collaboration, community, reflection, inquiry, and problem solving will serve them on their path to becoming well-rounded, artistic individuals who will choose to contribute to society in meaningful and creative ways.