Helen Hume describes a studio atmosphere as being a functional artistic space that encourages independent learning and self-motivation. I particularly like the idea that all the students in the classroom should be working quietly at all times and that if someone were to visit the classroom they would see everyone diligently working. For a studio atmosphere to occur though, I think there needs to be some freedom to move about and talk with other students briefly to get ideas and brainstorm solutions. In a perfect studio atmosphere the room should be quiet but not tense.
Getting Student's Attention and Keeping It
The general idea behind this tip is that you should keep your instructions short and sweet and be aware of who isn't listening to you an why. If students who usually pay attention are nodding off, you've been droning for too long; but if you have students who are chatting it up in the back of the room you need to get control. Helen Hume suggests what I would describe as the "hard stare" for getting a classrooms attention without saying that they need to pay attention. Going silent in the middle of a sentence is a great attention grabber that indicates to your students that you are not happy. Staring down a select couple of students who aren't getting the message is a great way to get you students to control each other without you every having to say a word.
Give Open-Ended Assignments
I just hate it when I see cookie-cutter artwork coming out of a secondary art room, especially at the high school level. Art is about creativity and personal expression, where is the personal expression in "draw your portrait in the style of Picasso". BORING! Rather than prescribing assignments, I prefer the idea of prompts. A small phrase or a single word that the students can explore in various ways to come up with interesting solutions to the creative problem at hand. These result in much more interesting and unique work that the students hold more pride for.
Portfolios are a great way to just keep everything together so that there aren't papers flying about the classroom all willy-nilly. In an Art 1 classroom that might be all it is but in an Advanced Art classroom the portfolio should go beyond the catch-all idea. It's important to teach students to understand the importance of a portfolio as it applies to future prospects for school and job opportunities. With technology as prevalent as it is, it is important to have students be building an online art presence and portfolio. For my Advanced Art classes I want each student to begin to build a blog/website that can hold clear images of all their work and begin to develop them professionally in the art scene.
Teaching Visual Literacy
Nothing irks me more in a critique that for some one to say, "I like it" and that's all. It is important that students be able to talk intelligently and specifically about artworks they are looking at whether it be in the classroom or at a museum. "I like it." "It's pretty." "It's just not my style." These are not intelligent art responses. "The perspective here seems to be off." "The mood the piece presents through color is eye-catching." "Perhaps the piece would be more successful if you tried..." These are the responses I want to hear in my art room during critique; intelligent responses that rely on terms and concepts of art.
Additionally, students should be able to recognize art and design in the world around them. While I think of this to be more Visual Culture, Helen Hume includes it as a part of Visual Literacy in her book. It is important to point out to students the artistic designs that go into the products they encounter every day and look at these images with the same visual consciousness and literacy as a painting in a museum.