As the school year begins, teachers, students, and parents are all adjusting to our current reality of remote learning. At Tacoma Art Museum, we’re also preparing for a school year unlike any other.
During a normal year, about 3,500 students visit the museum on field trips. Another 200+ participate in off-site programs like our Sketch Club after-school program. While we will definitely miss the energy and excitement of hosting students in our galleries, TAM’s education department is committed to making sure kids still have access to high-quality art programming. We have adapted our most popular field trip themes into virtual programs. In addition, we’ve developed exciting new virtual programs designed to foster students’ social-emotional learning. These times are challenging for all of us, and they’re bringing up a lot of big feelings for youth. In our Feelings and Faces program, elementary students learn how artists process and express feelings, then create artwork expressing their own emotions. For teens, the isolation of pandemic times is especially hard — teenage brains are right in the middle of developing their own identities, fueled by social interaction. Identity and Self-portraiture for middle and high school students explores how artists convey identity, followed by a self-portrait workshop where teens can explore their own identity. Together, these programs will support students in Tacoma and beyond as we face the unprecedented school year ahead.
We have also increased our virtual resources for students, teachers, and families. The TAM at Home collection will gain additional videos of fun art-making projects that can be done with materials found around the house. On our e-museum site, more Teacher Resources are filled with works of art from TAM’s collection. Teachers (and home-schooling parents) can use these artworks during lessons on a variety of subjects, supported with classroom curriculum developed as supplements to our virtual field trips.
Although virtual programs come with their own set of challenges, they also mean greater accessibility. Teachers won’t need to coordinate bus schedules or worry about paying for field trip transportation. Students from farther away can participate in TAM’s programming. Our teacher professional development workshops, which went virtual in the spring, have already reached educators as far away as Spokane. We’re excited and ready to see what the year has in store!