As a fifth grade teacher, I worked very hard to help my students find connections. One of my colleagues who helped me to make connections between curriculum areas was Trevor Bryan, who was my students’ art teacher during my time in the classroom. Trevor has continued to make connections between art and other subject areas, particularly focusing on the connections between viewing artwork and language arts.
We are proud to have Trevor Bryan join us this week and share his insight.
5 Questions with… Trevor Bryan
- What do you most want your students to take with them from your classroom, school or district?
When my students walk away from my classroom, I want them to have a sense that their lives and their learning are connected. I want them to realize that the cognitive task of trying to comprehend the subject being explored is worthwhile because comprehension leads to connections and connections lead to discovery and innovation. Discovery and innovation, no matter how small, are exciting and I want my students to lead exciting lives. I believe that the habit of making connections can help them to do this.
- What are the most rewarding and/or the most frustrating aspects of education?
For me the most rewarding part of education is the opportunity to continually learn. In my experience, this happens mostly through collaboration and discussion. It is especially exciting when my students teach me something. Those are great moments. It also means that I’m doing my job as a teacher because it means that I am providing opportunities for students voices to be heard and that I’m asking questions that don’t have only one answer. Again, these moments are essentially moments of discovery. The more moments of discovery my classroom has, the more exciting it is. The more exciting it is, the higher the engagement, both for me and my students. The more engagement there is, the more opportunities to learn there is. It’s a wonderful cycle. The most frustrating aspect of education is the lack of time…for everything (pick your verb).
- What advice would you give to young teachers?
Read. Find the best teachers in your building and talk to them a lot. Collaborate with other teachers as much as you can and stay away from negativity-Your room has to be a positive space. Your students deserve a positive space. (And then read some more).
- What has influenced your career the most?
Again, I’m going to go with collaboration. The most exciting moments of my career have been talking with educators, especially educators who have significantly different educational backgrounds than me. Without a doubt these conversations have fueled my career. I’m grateful for them. I’m a better teacher because of them. They have helped me to see just how connected classrooms can be and when we are solving difficult problems together, it is good not only for us, it is really good for our students.
5. As an educator, what are you currently focused on?
I’ve always believed that my art education was a really unique and wonderful experience. My whole career has been spent trying to share that experience with my colleagues and my students. About five years ago, I collaborated with my colleagues, Donna Donner and Justin Dolci, and we created an approach which fuses English language arts education and art education. We call it The Art of Comprehension (AoC). Through AoC, which is basically viewing artworks with students, we teach them a whole slew of reading and writing skills and concepts necessary for academic success. It has proven to be a wonderful scaffold for both regular ed and special ed students. It is also just a really good way of getting students and teachers to engage artworks. AoC has given me an opportunity to share, my art life, something that is so significant and meaningful to me, in a very authentic way. I believe, we all want the opportunity to share the things we love-I’m grateful that I can do that. So I guess, simply sharing what I love is what I’m currently focused on.
— Trevor Bryan (@trevorabryan) March 19, 2015
Trevor Bryan is a K-5 art educator, who teaches at Elms Elementary School in Jackson, NJ. Besides teaching, he also presents, paints and writes.