Currently Secondary Art Teacher at Shekou International School
Hello! I'm Amy Atkinson - but all my student's call me Miss A. I've been teaching Visual Arts for the past 11 years in Canada, Singapore, Thailand and China. Before that I taught ESL in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. I have been a lifelong teacher (therefore also a lifelong learner; as I believe they go hand in hand), teaching competitive swimming, lifeguarding, and local art classes since high school.
I came late into the 'official' teaching realm. After studying Fine Art and Art History at UofT, I travelled the world teaching English. To be honest, that is when I really found my love for art. Touring art galleries in Tokyo, taking an obscene number of photos of the Japanese country side and those beautiful yellow gingko leaves in fall, sitting inside the Royal Palace in Seoul with my easel and paints, taking private lessons in brush painting at Yongsei University just made my soul sing. It opened my mind up to what was possible when one is inspired and excited about what they do. I also explored my technical side, taking a post graduate certificate in Information Technology and working in the IT industry as a Web Developer and front end programmer (back when it was just me, a computer and text pad).
My interest in international education was first piqued during my teaching IGCSE Visual Arts at Serangoon Gardens in Singapore. Coming from Canada, I was not a fan of standardized testing. I always thought it minimized the creative process and could button-hole students into focusing on the test, not on their inner development. I had been involved in working with the OSSLT test as a student trainer, as well as an examiner. Teaching Visual Arts is a struggle - not the actual in class time - that is a dream! It is what I love; developing creativity, honing skills, exploring ideas, and leading students to discover their own creative voice. But in our contemporary school system, Visual Arts tends to be a second thought, an option or 'an easy course' for many. Teaching my IGCSE students in Singapore literally 'blew my mind'. The skill, dedication and creativity they possessed and their drive to excel astounded me with what could be possible in an Art room if given support, funding and the time and space to create. During PD workshops in Singapore, I was introduced to the IB programme and decided to move to ISE in Thailand to learn about and teach the IB DP VA programme.
As a teacher my strengths are based on enriching the student experience; inspiring, motivating and creating inclusivity access the arts. I adore my time in the art studio with my students, challenging each other with ideas and designs developed through the design process. I enjoy scaffolding and writing curriculum that flow through the secondary levels with a focus on the design cycle, process as well as skill develop. Including planning opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate ATL skills is an integral part of a task or assessment. Doing this allows students to take ownership of their work and recognize their successes beyond the remits of the grade boundaries. To that end, I also created a few strategies, such as 'Pop Art Challenges' to further encourage student ownership and develop confidence in their artwork as well as the understanding of the subjective nature of art. On a more practical level, as a working artist, I know my subject thoroughly, am constantly inspired myself by my students and take great pride that I am able to work with my students to design units that all students engage with.
I have embraced the IB DP Visual Arts course with enthusiasm, appreciating the rigour and creative development it provides for students. I serve as an IB examiner and offer my services as an online tutor. I also conduct workshops for teachers to support them on developing a successful IB DP VA programme.
My professional relationships with colleagues, students and parents are strong. My aim at all times is to be professional, organized and committed; a teacher who offers students a high quality learning experiences. My hope is that I manage to foster a sense of trust which empowers students and empowers them to manage themselves, feel confident and comfortable and come back with resilience from mistakes.
As well as contributing my creative skills to areas like drama presentations, posters, marketing works, photo contests, our SIS art totes, displays around the school and school literature, I regularly volunteer my time to support community events. I have shared my ideas and skills with colleagues at school PDs as well as EARCOS and ARWAE workshops. I have developed and led local and international trips for art students as well as collaborating with other teachers to develop STEAM and arts trips and I currently lead our Grade 10 Week Without Walls trips. I am one of the founding members of our Joint International School Arts group in Shenzhen which organizes mock exhibitions, weekend workshops and joint art contests for DP students in the Shenzhen area.
You can also find me outside of the art room, advising STUCO or Arts Council, coaching basketball, swimming or badminton, mentoring student driven extra curricular initiatives such as fashion show, mural painting, green team and service clubs. And of course, I am in my fair share of meetings, as school development and planning are also important to me. I have been happy to serve on Leadership Committees, WASC and CIS planning teams, Innovation Councils and Wellness Committees.
My short term career goals are to focus on creating more strategies which enhance creativity and inclusivity for art students, to explore the use of technology in visual art, and to create a successful visual arts department while looking for opportunities to continue to develop my leadership skills.
ARTWORK DETAIL IN HEADER BY Sec4 VA O Level SGS STUDENT JEANNIE SRIPHIROMRAK
FINAL O LEVEL IGCSE WORK