"One person can make a difference, and every person should try."
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I am continually surprised by my students. Being in the Art room, and also generally 'around', I have the privilege of being able to watch students in a different context than the classroom. I also am able to plan kinesthetic lessons that appeal to the create right-hand side of their brains, which means I often see different behaviour than their classroom teachers.
Last week, while on duty, I spotted some children who were beginning to make silly choices in the playground, and invited them to help me run a softball game with the juniors. Well! Not only did they help me run this softball game, they actually stood with the children, teaching them to catch, and to hit, and to field. It was a real proud moment for me, and a reminder of the different ways that we as teachers can inspire our students to succeed in life, not just the classroom.
May they continue to inspire me...
"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn."
Today reminded me about the importance of really thinking of ways to make learning fun! I think it is really easy to get into a groove of just teaching in one way, or just using one form of learning (such as netbooks...) and forgetting about the creative ways of learning that really influence our children!
Room 5 were using the PPDAC model to complete a statistical investigation. We wanted them to learn the key vocabulary associated with statistical investigations. To do this, instead of creating a quiz, or using their netbooks, I decided that we would complete a REAL investigation and learn the key terms by actually using them with some real data that the children enjoyed collecting! We completed some research on 'behalf of Tip Top' to see if there were enough goody goody gumdrops in their ice cream. And what a great lesson of learning. As I type this, I can hear the discussions around me - "No, the median is the middle number of the lowest data to the highest data in order!" "You find the mean by adding all the numbers then dividing it by how many people there were." (etc).
A very fun and successful lesson. And a good reminder to me that even if you have taught a lesson before, with a new class the learning can be completely different!
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."
On Thursdays I am lucky enough to teach both Art technology, and Performing Arts - specifically dance. It is a real shift in mindsets, but often by the end of the week, a welcome shift :>
There is a real joy found in watching kids THRIVE in kinesthetic activity. Certain children, often children who display high behaviour needs during class time, LOVE kinesthetic activity and produce amazing pieces of artwork, or contribute with 100% enthusiasm to the active performing arts.
There is also a real frustration in watching children who struggle to work collaboratively, have to shift their mindsets in order to be able to work in a group, when they WANT to work alone. One child today in Art technology began to berate another child because their art "wasn't up to standard." This other child was really upset, but it simply came down to the different skill set that children bring to art, or any kinesthetic activity. Some children come to art, or to dance with more skills in their 'Arts kete', where as others are just beginning to fill their kete with new skills. This can make it very frustrating for those who are ahead.
Working together - a necessary skill to learn, but when do we draw the line? Is it fair to constantly frustrate the children who want to learn more, but need to be held back to help others? Yes, we can extend these children, but I need to have a think about how to realistically do this in an Art setting, without making the beginner children feel left behind...
" Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."
- Jonathan Swift
One class I have really enjoyed working with this term is a class that has children in it, who have high behaviour needs. I was slightly apprehensive about the way they would handle using art media such as paint, but was pleasantly surprised by their maturity towards this art media, and their eagerness to learn how to use this art media successfully in their artwork. The first thing that I taught them about was how to block in a landscape in a way that shows perspective. This took the whole first block, but was a great experience as I was able to gage which children were ready to be expended.
In the next block, we painted in the background layer - the purple mountains. Many of the children in this class had never used paint before, except for blocking in colours - that is "colouring in" using paint. It took a while to show these students how to use black and white paint to accent their purple subtly. It was exciting to watch the children show distance and perspective in just this one layer. After this we discussed how to use block colours to show a vivid morning sky - and what inspiration I drew from my students! Vivid skies of hot pinks and white, yellows and green - swirls and spirals... my students were able to take the teaching I gave them and fly!
Next we moved onto the foreground. taught some simple techniques of how to use black and white to create the shading that depicted the shape of the rocks in the streams/lakes of the foregrounds of their pictures.
Lastly, the students outlined their artwork with black paint. This really accentuated their artwork. It looked simply stunning when finished, and has now been displayed at the front of our school hall - already receiving many comments.
When reflecting on working with this class, I have been delighted by the talent hidden beneath some of the children who often display aggressive behaviour during school hours. I wonder if there are some correlation's between children who find it difficult to work in a typical classroom environment, and children who excel when completing kinesthetic work - whether art or gardening, or building...
This may lead onto more reflections in the future! I have LOVED working with this class, and can't wait to see where some of the talents of these students may lead...
"Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life."
I feel incredibly privileged this year to be the first "Art teacher" at Tamaki Primary. My job is simple in its design brief, and yet I spend all day inspiring children to be and do the best that they can, with the talents that they have - isn't this the reason we started teaching?
However there is the frustration of my colleagues thoughts of my job description - you know, simply "colouring-in" all day. The fact that I spend hours preparing lessons, finding inspiration, matching these ideas with classes of students that will be inspired by them, then cutting paper to size, organising equipment, setting up my art room (which has often been moved around in my absence!), creating extension activities ... (etc) all within the 8:00-4:00pm time frame, means that the days I work are frantically busy! Especially when combining my set up with the tension of teaching with Art media - 'will children spill paint?' 'Will they break the $25 water colour pencils?...' and then add on duty and meetings, and getting the gorgeous art on the walls... My days are a delicate frantic balancing act!
But what art is created! I have been blown away with the incredible talent (and I don't type this lightly!!) of the students at this school! With some simple teaching, absolutely breathtaking art has already been completed - and its only term 2! VERY exciting!
What an extraordinary privilege it is to teach Art at Tamaki Primary school!