“I felt more comfortable this time at the museum”

“I felt more comfortable this time at the museum” said one student from Westchester Community College – and the rest of the students agreed with her comment. These students, from Lisa Hockstein and Joy Ahern’s classes, completed the CALTA21 “Identity, Portraiture and Photography” curriculum when they visited the Katonah Museum of Art for a second time.

During the first visit, each student chose a work that caught his or her attention. At the museum, students documented the chosen works by copying the wall label, drawing the piece and writing a brief description of it. They also posed questions about what additional information they would like to find regarding the selected work of art. Once they were back in the classroom, the students used the information they collected during their visit and began the research process.

Student VTS at KMA

When the students at Westchester Community College returned to the museum for their second visit, each student facilitated a VTS discussion in front of the work they had previously chosen and researched. At the end, they all had the opportunity to share why they chose their selected artwork, as well as the information they found during the research process, with their classmates and guests.

The unanimous sense of comfort results from two visits to the museum, frequent participation in classroom discussions and training and preparing for facilitating at the museum. We are thrilled to keep hearing students tell us “I am not afraid of speaking in English now.” A sense of community and trust develops throughout the class. Sharing their personal photographs and stories about where they come from, who they are in their new home and what their hopes and dreams are for the future is the building block of this learning community. This comfort between the students transcends these specific activities to create a larger community of support and encouragement in the classroom and at the museum.

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