We all know that students are the most important people in the education process, however, we believe that teachers, parents and supporters of the Arts are also critical to the success of our students.
If you are a Meet the Masters teacher, parent or even former student, please contact us so we can share your story.
5 Questions with Teri Aalseth (Meet the Masters Instructor, California)
1. When did you start working for Meet the Masters?
I began with the MTM program when our youngest son attended his first year of college in the school year of 2000-2001. A friend and then employee suggested that I interview to work for the company. Initially, my intent was to teach in the classroom only. But that first year Bonnie Steele (MTM President) asked whether I would do lectures too. After some thought, I took the challenge and since have had no regrets. The MTM program seems more complete for me by knowing what the children hear about the master artist and their work through the lecture and by teaching the classroom art activity.
2. What is your connection to art? What attracted you to MTM?
The exposure to a variety of mediums in high school from simple pencil drawings to ceramics revealed an unknown sense of joy and creative freedom within me. While art was not my emphasis in college, an Art History course certainly put an indelible appreciation for the old masters that remains with me today. One can say that the combination of art exposure in my youth and the college Art History course became a natural draw for me to work for MTM. Who would have known?
3. Who is your favorite artist to teach and why?
Goodness, a favorite artist to teach and why? Having to choose only one…I choose American Artist, Alexander Calder. To introduce a tactile art activity through the building of a stable, standing mobile, or hanging mobile presents an enjoyable challenge for each child to attain. To be successful in its construction, the children learn that all parts are vital and that there remains an order to follow. The completion of the project for each child is such a personal achievement. Just to add a short story…one year a fourth grade girl was so taken by the completion of her standing mobile that she asked her mom to buy all the necessary materials for her to recreate more at home. Later that same week, she sent out invitations to the neighborhood children that she was having an Alexander Calder standing mobile party. She taught the others how to build their own standing mobile to take home!
4. Describe your teaching style and how to get the best results from your students.
My teaching style is to enlighten, encourage, and engage each child. Not always an easy task as some may either “check out” mentally during a lecture or have a “melt down” doing an art activity. A huge sense of satisfaction swells within when the children become involved with the lecture. To make sure that they know the connection between the art vocabulary words and the master’s artwork that is seen, I quiz them on these words throughout the lecture. If the lecture becomes too quiet with little involvement to my questions, I happily stop to convey that more should know the answer to this particularly important question. I repeat that part of the lecture and normally more children begin to participate. One year, I was pleasantly surprised with fifth graders carrying clipboards into lecture. They would first jot down the name of the artist and the vocabulary words. Next came the listening and note taking skills. Lastly, a report on the artist! Talk about a teacher placing value on MTM and implementing the program as a further learning tool.
5. Can you share a specific story of how MTM has impacted you or your students?
In the classroom, I sometimes must remind the children that this is their first time doing the art activity, to be brave and that sometimes a mistake becomes a happy mistake at the end. If there is a mistake, we become problem solvers together. Sometimes I will utilize a neighboring friend and ask them to help the one who is behind. I enjoy involving and engaging the children in the projects by sometimes saying, “We are doing the same thing again. Who remembers the first step?” As we proceed, I then ask, “What is the next step?” This may slow the lesson, but helps the one who may be behind. When a classroom is especially on target, I call them mini-masters and they shyly smile.
The years with MTM has been more than gratifying with developing friendships with the other MTM employees, school teachers, office workers, volunteers, and yes, even the children. You know you have formed a special bond when you are spotted and stopped outside the school environment by an excited mini-master and then given a hug. Likewise, you know you have formed a special bond when you are spotted and stopped in the community by a former mini-master presently grown up!