Janet Keen [catwoman]
What subjects do you teach? What types of students do you have?
Mosaics, painting, children's book illustration, mixed media, watrcolour and sculpture, visual diary making, art therapy and card making
Children's after school classes, adults night time classes and weekend workshops, school mosaic projects, mosaic for beginners, medium and advanced students, special needs classes fir people with mental or physical disabilities.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can see something about what you do or the center where you work?
How have your past experiences prepared you for teaching? How did you become interested in education?
I spent probably fifteen years being taught art by many different teachers of varied teaching ability through my 4 year Visual Art Diploma and through night classes and summer schools. Some of them were very encouraging and helpful. Others were horrible and had very little desire to help students. I often used to wonder what on earth they were doing there.
It was the good teachers that made me want to be like them. It was the bad teachers that really made me think; there must be a better way. I promised myself that if I got a chance to teach I would try to be the best and most helpful art teacher in New Zealand.
The Head Tutor of the Certificate Adult Teaching qualification that I completed said that I had a natural talent for communicating and inspiring students.
Many pupils have told me that they like my style because I am friendly, encouraging, give them beneficial critiques and I am not afraid to tell them all I know.
I never tire of looking at what peple produce from the lessons I set. They all come out with something unique and beautiful.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
The tutor John who taught me during my Certificate in adult teaching. He was excellent at breaking down barriers. He had great lesson plans which interested his pupils and he was very patient and encouraging.
He was also very happy and he made us the most amazing soup for lunches.
He's dead now and was a very much admired man for his kindness in the Rotorua community.
What is your educational philosophy?
Give them the tools, give them the technical skills, encourage them to try out their own ideas and let them fly.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching for you?
People who expect to make masterpieces after only one lesson have unrealistic expectations. Some people are such perfectionists and they spoil it for themselves by just not relaxing into the process.
My classes focus on fun and creativity they are meant to be enjoyed. It's not about competing with other people. They need to realise that if they want to get better they need to practise drawing every day.
I also find it a challenge when people come into my class bringing their baggage from home with them.
I am very patient with these people. There's nothing worse than a snappy teacher, but sometimes I think that people need to look at their lives from a glass half full rather than a glass half empty perspective.
I have put notices up around my classroom about keeping it light and happy as we are all there really to enjoy ourselves and relax.
"if you're not having fun you aren't doing it right"
I often attend art classes by other teachers so that I can put myself in the shoes of being a student. There is always more to learn.
What kind of relationship do you have with your students?
I am like a friend and mentor to them. We focus on having fun. I listen to their concerns and try to help them.
What is the secret to instilling interest in knowledge?
Having plenty of examples in books of amazing art which gives them inspiration. Always setting them a little challenge.I am always researching and practicing new and cutting edge art techniques from international sources. this keeps the lessons fresh and exciting.
I have a huge library of amazing art books for pupils to look at in class for inspiration.
What is your philosophy on homework and grading?
Homework in terms of drawing every day is good. Grading in art is not helpful, I think it encourages people to act like clones and to not experiment or deviate from the norm through fear of failure.
Is it possible to teach creativity? how?
Get them to relax into the flw. Show them lots of visual examples. Set them very simple lessons that have pleasing results.
How do you establish authority? What do you do when a discipline problem arises?
With large classes of children I normally have another teacher in the room and he or she disciplines them
With adults it seldom occurs. With private childrenI i tell them if they don't want to apply themselves i will not teach them. I tell their parents and they are out.
This way I only have dedicated students.
How do you individualize your teaching? How do you handle the different ability levels of students in classes?
I set a basic set of creativioty lessons for the beginner pupils and they all sit together. The more advanced pupils sit at a separate table and I encourage them to set their own goals. I then help them with technical aspects.
What do you expect from your supervisor? What qualities would you like to have in your principal?
Affirming, hands off , letting me show my full potential.
Rotorua, New Zealand