Teaching Art Through Distance Learning

An interview with Art instructor Jamie Saelee

Teaching Art Through Distance Learning

Mashallah Maghsoudi, Staff Writer

 Jamie Saelee is an excellent art teacher. She is very helpful and kind to all students who don’t understand the assignments, and she is an example for students in the class. Many students struggle and need help to learn art through distance learning, but Ms. Saelee is always trying her best to model the assignment for all students during these difficult times.


Foothill Forum: What has been the biggest challenge teaching art through zoom?


Saelee: The process with the materials! It took me weeks to put them together. I had to count everything, organize it, and pass it out. A lot of students could not come and grab them. I then had to develop online versions which was just as confusing for students.


Foothill Forum: Are there any projects that you would normally do that you just can’t through zoom?


Saelee: Yes, drawing figures (a human model) is very difficult because it requires the student to see someone in person.


Foothill Forum: Are there any art projects that you’ve come up with that works well with distance learning?


Saelee: Yes, any vocabulary assignments work well online because it focuses on the writing component of the curriculum. It supports common core and the new art standards but can be difficult to administer in person.


Foothill Forum: What are the biggest differences between this year and last?

Saelee: Not working with students in person. When in person, I read their body language, sense their energy, and notice nonverbal expressions. With virtual, it’s all oral communication which is a small part of communication.


Foothill Forum: How are students exhibiting their artwork?


Saelee: They take pictures and upload them. Sometimes, they can show in the video if they are having issues uploading images.


Foothill Forum: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses professionally in zoom?


Saelee: Some strengths are the ease of just going online and working at home. I have no more time to be at home and complete things that I normally didn’t have the time for before Covid-19. The weakness of working on zoom is teaching art that changes with each student, so it’s not effective for everyone. We all learn in different ways, and learning off a computer reduces that way that students learn. 


Foothill Forum: Explain how you differentiate in the classroom vs. Zoom.


Saelee: Currently, we are working on collages.  Usually, I would have to prep a lot of materials including magazines, fabrics, and glue.  It would take me hours to organize my classroom and to clean it. However during Covid-19, we are doing it virtually.  We are finding images through Google and copying and pasting.  Zero mess but it’s a tactile activity so students who learn by doing are not able to process this learning. 


Mashallah Maghsoudi is a staff writer for the Foothill Forum.