According to Danielle Poletto, art is for everyone. Don’t miss her simple tips for incorporating creativity into all subjects.
When she talks about art education, Danielle Poletto includes the words failure, mistakes, skills, empowerment, and learning. Although artwork is often described as masterful, the New York-educated teacher says this form of expression doesn’t have to begin or end in perfection.
“Art serves as one of the best opportunities for students to grow in many different subjects because it involves freethinking, problem solving, brainstorming, and grants the opportunity to come up with a creative solution,” she explains.
During her undergraduate career, Poletto believed she wanted to be a teacher — without any sort of art emphasis. But soon after beginning her studies, she started second-guessing her decision. Rather than giving up, she turned to her favorite pastime: art.
“I fell in love with self-expressionism, thinking outside of the box, and the freedom to explore,” she says. This was natural because she was raised by two artists on the East Coast.
While her new area of focus may have been obvious to others — she was the girl who took every art class she possibly could growing up — she studies what made her most happy. Throughout her educational pursuit, she says her biggest realization was finally understanding, “all people have the capacity to create.”
Before making the cross-country move to Phoenix in 2014, the vibrant educator taught in the Bronx and Westchester, New York. Regardless of where her classroom is located, she believes it’s her job to educate and encourage students to believe in art as the strongest form of expression.
“As an art teacher, I help students feel empowered and energized to create art in and outside the classroom. I want to share the wonderful mysteries of art-making and immerse students in historical and contemporary artwork,” she says.
While she loves teaching her students about art, she doesn’t want it only to be reserved for special areas. Whether it’s obvious or not, art and design intersect with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in many ways. Poletto wants teachers of all kinds to join forces.
“If you give any class the option to sketch out their ideas, they are able to tap into their creative side. Let students create and build, whether it is 2-D, 3-D, or a sculpture. You can even give students paper or recycled materials to keep costs low, but whatever you do, encourage them to build diagrams and get their ideas from a mental to physical state,” Poletto advises.
Her three best tips are easy: Try it, do it, and believe in your students.
“All you need to do is give your students the encouragement that they have great ideas. Not all art and design projects will work, but if you let students fail they will find out they can learn from their mistakes. People learn more and grow personally if they are able to fail at times,” she admits.
The moral of the story? Failure is fine.
“There are so many ways we learn in our everyday life. We see things with our eyes, feel things with our hands, hear things with our ears, taste with our tongue, smell with our nose, and so on,” she says. “If we are able to tie all of our senses together, we will understand the concept better because we can relate with it in multiple ways. Often, the missing element in student growth and learning is art.”