Art teacher adjusts to distance pottery classes

Angela Jacobs navigates new learning models

Isabel+Nathan

Art teacher Angela Jacobs balances classes during hybrid learning.

Isabel Nathan

Art teacher Angela Jacobs said she faced a difficult challenge as the 2020-2021 school year began when she had to figure out how to teach pottery, one of the most hands-on classes, in a distance learning model. 

“I have to plan for a lot of different scenarios, so it’s been a lot of time spent planning, making demonstration videos and trying to follow up with students,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs sent pottery students home with three pounds of clay and some tools at the beginning of the semester, and she assigned two pottery projects according to sophomore Emma Samuels. 

“We had to make a mushroom statue and a pinch pot so far, but we could do some more pots for extra credit,” Samuels said.

¨There’s a lot about pottery that’s not actually being with clay.””

— Adina Tirado

Jacobs has also been teaching her students about the elements of art and has been putting a greater emphasis on contemporary artists and ideas regarding ceramics. According to sophomore Adina Tirado, they have been learning about pottery without even using clay.

“We’ve been doing other assignments I had to make a paper sculpture and we’re learning things like elements and principles of art — there’s a lot about pottery that’s not actually being with clay,” Tirado said.

For the transition to a hybrid model, Jacobs said she is planning on having students work with the pottery wheels for in-person classes and to do research or hand pots at home.

“Once kids come back, they’ll start working on the wheels. It’ll be like a studio work day in the classroom. At home, they’ll be doing handling projects or analyzing things,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said she has recorded videos of herself making pinch pots and mushroom statues so that students can learn and work at their own pace and are able to use the videos for reference whenever they need to.

Usually she posts videos about what we’re doing so we can watch them. On synchronous days, she’ll explain pottery techniques, like how to score and slip,” said Samuels. “It’s easy to know what’s going on.”

Because the distance learning and hybrid model significantly reduce the amount of time students get to spend working on pottery, they have not done as much as students would in a normal year.

“They’ve only really done a couple small things and we’re normally in a timeframe where we would probably be a lot further on our course,” Jacobs said.

Although this year’s pottery classes are much different from the previous years, Tirado said she’s still learning a lot and having fun in the class.

“Especially when the weather’s nice, it’s nice to do pottery outside and take a break from online classes — it’s very calming, and it’s fun to do,” Tirado said.