Posted on 03/24/2016 at 01:17 PM by Blog Experts

Another session I attended at the Art of Education Winter Conference was Tim Bogartz’s. He is a high school art teacher in Omaha, NE. Tim’s session was titled,  “Overcoming the Fear of Failure with Unexpected Studio Projects”.  This session intrigued me for several reasons. First, we are reading the book, Mindset by Carol Dweck in our PLC, and this session was really promoting a growth mindset in the art classroom. Often students are faced with many fears of failure or insecurities in the fine arts—always thinking they can’t do something if someone else can do it better than they can. Secondly, the types of activities Tim had his students engage in to help to lesson their fear and promote creativity were so interesting. And his students’ work was amazing!

So how does this work? Tim urges art teachers and students to first become comfortable with being uncomfortable! If you do what you’ve always done, you will stagnate as a person and as an artist. The new ideas are what help us to grow.

One of his favorite projects is the “Smashed Face Portrait” project. Students smash their faces against a piece of glass or a window and have someone take a photograph of their smashed face. They then draw these portraits. The portraits come out much better because students aren’t so worried about them being perfect.

Push to create a new norm. Once you’re moving forward you can never go back to where you were before. You’re operating at a new level. So the next time, you have to push even harder as you can’t go back. This is exciting and scary!

Another project Tim has his students engage in is taking them outside and throwing things at them, such as erasers or Nerf balls. When they jump, he snaps a photograph of them. They then draw themselves in these fantastic poses.

Another project is Dynamic Poses taken in the school swimming pool. Tim followed his own advice in overcoming the fear of failure by having students take underwater shots of themselves in a variety of poses and clothing. The first student had to overcome his fear of jumping off a diving board. Once the shots were taken, students could then draw or paint them. Tim said, “You are able to learn your true capabilities when we step out of our comfort zones. When we push students so they can see what’s happening, that’s when they start to live it. And when they start to live it, that’s the moment we’re going for. Kids can become so much more, so they need to be pushed outside of your comfort zone. They can’t do this if you’re doing what you’ve always done. Kids want to be part of things bigger than themselves. We may look ridiculous together, but that’s part of it. Kids want to be a part of some kind of community. When we complete these projects together, we develop community and belonging. They come to the realization of who they are.”

Sandy Skoglund said, “Happiness is the existence of a meaningful struggle.” We need to help our students develop their meaningful struggle, but we also need to do this as teachers. Tim’s challenge for all art teachers is to do something you’ve never done before.  Perhaps it’s taking one of the above ideas. Whatever project it is that takes both you and your students out of your comfort zone, he would like you to share it with him. Tweet your idea: @eastartroom or email him: Regardless of whether you contact Tim or not, try something new!

Here are Tim’s five steps for stepping out of your comfort zone:

  1. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
  2. Push to create a new norm
  3. That’s not fear—it’s opportunity
  4. Learn your true capabilities
  5. Create your meaningful struggle


There are no comments yet.
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field