I believe teaching art to children is what I was meant to do. As a child, I was drawn to all things creative. I lived in a creative household where boredom was my best friend and resourcefulness made up for the supplies I didn’t have. Art in my rural public elementary school in Eastern Canada was considered important and I lived for it. I think about these things as I review my year of teaching art.
- During my first session with my little kinders, I found myself becoming anxious with their inability to settle into the class. I went home that night and found myself looking at old photo albums with my daughter. We poured over her kinder photos and recalled the different activities that her class did. All I could think of was how little she looked. Her tiny hands, her big curious eyes and then it dawned on me: Kinders are still babies. They are someone’s baby just like my Elly was my baby. The next week when my class of Kinders walked through the doors, I saw them differently. Someone’s baby. Little beings that I had the opportunity to engage. What a priviledge. To this very day, Kindergarten is the class I look forward to the most because I get it now. Each child is someone’s baby. Teach them and see them as you would like a teacher to see your child.
- I try to remember what art meant to me as a ten year-old before my rowdy fifth graders step into my art room. Sometimes, I think children don’t yearn for art the same way I did; hanging off the teacher’s words, imaging how I would make my project different. That sort of thing. I assume this because of their sometimes disrespectful behavior. But then I spot the few kids who have that hungry look in their eyes and I teach to them. You might not reach every student, but it only takes a couple to make your efforts worth it.
- I bought a little composition notebook from an office supply store at the beginning of the year. I vowed I would be better organized this year. If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably figured out that I like to plan out my art lessons. The process of designing new lessons makes teaching exciting and rewarding. But, sometimes I forget what techniques I’ve done with each class. Just this year I noticed I did three tempera paint projects in a row with one class. Kind of forgot to change it up! Now my little notebook records it all; the date of the lesson, how many classes it took to complete, what technique we used (watercolor, collage, drawing, etc.) and what grade level. No matter how unorganized you think you are; find a way to record your lessons: on a big sheet of paper, on your computer, in a notebook. Then, REFER to it often!
It’s a great exercise in humility to think about your short comings. It’s always surprising though, that a change in perspective can make the biggest difference.
What are your lessons learned?
Next week, I’m going to list my most effective lessons this year and the biggest duds. Stay tuned….