MHS Humanities teacher Regina Feldman was awarded the Connie Towson Ford Teaching Fellowship from the Cleveland Museum of Art for the 2017-2018 school year.
The fellowship, which was designed to activate the galleries and inspire educators to create innovative, object-based experiences with artworks from our collection, was awarded to a handful of teachers from public and private schools located throughout Greater Cleveland.
Regina was initially drawn to the fellowship because she wanted to learn more about the museum’s resources for teachers and students and how to use them on her own. She noted, “Adolescents are naturally drawn to art, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to enrich my teaching, especially since this is a great institution within walking distance.”
Regina and the other Fellows began their work together during a Summer Teacher Institute in July 2017. During the summer session, they explored a variety of object-based learning methodologies and the CMA collection. Hajnal Eppley, Department Director of Gallery Teaching, explained, “Fellows were also introduced to CMA’s gallery teaching methodology, which includes an equal emphasis on child development, knowledge of the collection, and gallery teaching strategies. Following this orientation, the team used the process of design thinking to hone in on a research question impacting their own teaching. This problem-solving process allowed for reflection and peer feedback as teachers interviewed each other and workshopped their ideas.”
The summer institute also offered opportunities for teachers to work with their colleagues from other schools, which Regina enjoyed, adding, “Some of the experiences we engaged in were completely new to me, challenging and exciting at the same time.”
Since then, the Fellows have been focused on a gallery-based experience, which they will complete before the end of the school year. Fellows will continue meeting throughout the year to prototype ideas with each other, provide feedback, and report on the progress of their action-based research.
Regina, who is currently developing her gallery-based experience, is focusing on Buddhist and Hindu art forms. Describing the experience, she said, “The students will be able to choose an experience out of 5 or so possible “meditative walks” through particular galleries, ranging from a focus on Chinese Buddhist sculpture, to Tibetan Buddhist art, to a separate experience of Hindu temple art. I don’t want to share all the details to keep an element of surprise for students, but there will be a related reading in my IB Theory of Knowledge class and a lesson to prepare students. One of the experiences will be on a Wednesday night and will also involve a yoga-inspired preparation.”
Beyond this particular experience, Regina has also begun to incorporate other things that she learned as a Fellow into her curriculum. This fall, her 11th and 12th grade History class spent an afternoon at the museum. She trained three Seniors to guide a gallery experience looking for an extended time at German expressionist art asking simple questions that encourage students to “see what they can see,” a technique she learned at the summer institute and that students are continuing to use in class. For a recent lesson on Japan, for example, students looked at woodblock prints to understand how the Japanese saw the Dutch and Americans when the country opened in the late 19th century.
Hajnal, reflecting on the Fellows’ work, said, “As a member of the CMA staff it’s extremely beneficial to go through this process of experimentation, discussion, and reflection along with the Teaching Innovation Fellows. We wanted to align this process with the rebirth of the Connie Towson Ford Teaching Innovation Lab because hearing about the issues, ideas, and challenges educators face is crucial for us as we examine what the museum can do to best support our community.”
As for Regina, she’s excited about next semester’s work and the continuation of the Fellowship this spring. “The museum has so many and often-changing exhibits, the possibilities seem endless.”