This year, I was a little worried about how we would do. We received 19/20 last year and I thought there was little to no chance of topping it. And of course, I am probably the only one who even cares about doing that. For my students, they don't care about what the art program has done in the past (nor should they), they only care about what is happening now and what I am doing to help them learn, grow, and achieve.
And although we did not get 19 awards like last year (I am not sure we will ever do that well again), I was more excited about what was earned than any previous year. It might be because we achieved the first American Vision Award for our middle school, or the fact that there were a couple students who won multiple awards, but I am probably most excited because the work that won was truly unique pieces created by my students and not handed down from me.
In each case, the work is purely the point of view of the student who created it. I may have showed them a technique, or introduced an influencing artist or movement along the way, but ultimately the students are the ones making the choices for how and what they want to say with their work. This is what I have found the most exciting take away from this year's competition.
I don't want to knock what other art teachers do (because I do this, too), but I hope to push myself beyond a one size fits all product at the end and allow more choice and student voice in the process. I am trying to do that more and more with each lesson and not to the expense of Art History or technique.
Just see for yourself by checking out our 2013 winners below: