What is TAB?

What is TAB?

TAB, or Teaching for Artistic Behavior, is the teaching pedagogy that I brought with me to Newmarket Elementary School. TAB is a choice-based curriculum style that's main goal is to provide authentic art experiences for children which promote creative habits of artistic behavior. 
(Studio Thinking, Hetland, Winner, et al, Teachers College Press 2007)

For more information about Teaching for Artistic Behavior, including testimonials and other resources, please visit www.teachingforartisticbehavior.org

How is this different from what I'm used to?

In the Art Studio (formerly known as the classroom), artists (formerly known as students), create works of art (formerly known as projects or assignments). Most often, I don't assign any specific projects for the artists to work on. Students are focused on creating artwork from their own ideas, rather than a teacher directed assignment. TAB is focused primarily on the process of creating rather than the end product. 

The artwork that comes home will probably look different than what you are used to, however, your artist will have a story to tell and will be incredibly excited and proud of their artwork. Please take the time to sit down and talk to them about it, they have a lot to say!

OK, so what do we do in class?

The art studio is set up in centers according to materials and their typical uses. Slowly, the artists and the teacher, open each center going over set up and clean up, as well as reviewing techniques and new materials as they become available. As each center is opened, the artists are given an exploratory period to spend working with the materials and familiarize themselves with clean up. 

Most days, I will give a 10 minute demonstration on a new material, a famous artist, or art movement and then they are able to move into their own work time (Open Studio). These mini lessons offer the NES artists inspiration for their own art and open up new opportunities for them. Occasionally, I may ask the artists to work with a specific material after a demonstration or a "must do" piece of art. 

Why make the change?

A TAB studio encourages learning at your own pace and moving on when you are ready. It allows the teacher to give artists the support they need on a one on one or small group basis. It empowers students to find and use their own ideas in art. Everything learned in the TAB studio from the learned habits, independence and general responsibility that each artist has, translates into other academic and extracurricular areas of life and their education.


Artists are assessed over the long term - I look at their growth as artists throughout the year. I look at the following when determining grades:

Art Studio Learning Habits:

  • Studio Habits of Mind
  • Demonstrates the ability to conceive and develop artistic ideas
  • Productive and engaged in class and cares about the quality of the work
  • exhibits respect for self and others
  • uses tools and supplies responsibly and cleans the workspace

Demonstrates skills and content taught

I use the National Visual Art Standards to guide our curriculum. 

You can learn more about the National Visual Art Standards here:



Centers in the TAB Studio

There are 8 centers set up in the NES Art Studio. Artists may have access to all or some of them throughout the year. 

The centers are:

  • Drawing
  • Collage
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Printmaking
  • Clay
  • Fiber
  • Temporary Art

We also have an area on the rug set up with resources (books) for artists to use for inspiration.