Episode 73: Nicole McAfoose: Big Ideas & Choice-Based Art

Nicole McAfoose shared fantastic and really practical tips for teachers interested in moving towards choice-based teaching or TAB. She talked about the transition phase and the power of giving students more autonomy in the classroom. She also spoke about assessment in a TAB classroom and how she documents learning. Her passion and care for her students was so clear. 

Nicole also vulnerably shared how she lost the artist side of herself and is coming back to being an artist now. She talked about imposter syndrome and naming limiting beliefs. It was so encouraging to hear how she makes time for her own art-making, tells her bully of an inner critic to be quiet, and embraces the media she enjoys. 

She has big ideas and projects in the works around choice-based art education, so keep an eye on @bigideasartstudio.

Nicole McAfoose is an elementary art teacher with a passion for choice-based art education and the Teaching for Artistic Behavior philosophy. She has been teaching art for 11 years with experience in after-school art programs, children’s theater programs, and public schools.

Nicole recently decided to reconnect with her artistic self. After years of negative self-talk and limiting beliefs about what it means to be an artist, adopting the TAB philosophy made her reexamine everything she’d come to believe about art and artmaking. She is now stepping into her artistic identity and embarking on a journey to discover her own voice. She’s starting with a sketchbook and her favorite subjects – her two young boys.

Over the last few years, Nicole has become increasingly passionate about the choice-based teaching model and truly believes it’s the future of art education. She is taking on a new role of advocating for kids and their right to pursue their own artistic voice. Her hopes are that by doing so, she can dispel the myths surrounding choice and empower art teachers to make the transition. 


Student Work: