“Art enables us to love ourselves and loose ourselves at the same time.” T. Merton

“Art enables us to love ourselves and loose ourselves at the same time.” T. Merton.

How do you tell a colleague no?

How many times do colleagues ask you to borrow something….every day, every other day, once a week?  It is not usually the question or even the act of lending something that poses a problem.  The problem arises when they want to “borrow” consumable supplies.  Construction paper, pencils, markers, paint are all consumables.  The web defines consumable as “all tangible personal property consumed (used up, drained, absorbed, dissipated, or expended) during the normal day-to-day operation of-

Others tend to view our supply closet as the never ending abyss of art materials just waiting to be devoured.  When we realize that the contents are golden.  Working endless hours to find the best bargains we squeeze every dollar to purchase every scrap of paper, worn out marker, and chewed down pencil stub.    In the era of shrinking budgets and price increases we need to be cognizant of what is expendable in our supply closet and hold onto it with a firm hand.

So, how do you tell a colleague no when they ask to borrow supplies?   A friend of mine gave me this suggestion:

At the beginning of each school year sit down and compose a short memo to the staff sharing the time and effort that you take to make sure you have ample supplies for the school year.  Also mention that your supplies have been affected by the recent budget crisis and times are tough.  Be certain to maintain that you will not be sharing any consumable supplies this year but other non-consumables are available when they may need to borrow (old scissors, rulers, and paint brushes).   End by thanking everyone for understanding your predicament and wish them a good year.

You will be surprised by how effective this technique can be.  Do not concern yourself with those that take the news poorly.  In a few days they will begin to understand.  If by chance someone does continue to ask to borrow supplies, remind them of the memo earlier in the year.   Finally, don’t feel guilty for not sharing.

Do you collect trading cards?

With the start of baseball season this an excellent time to talk to your students about trading cards…..artist trading cards.   ATC’s are miniature pieces of art.  They can be composed of a variety of materials with multiple themes.   Students love the versatility of the cards as well as the size. ATC’s measure 2.5 X 3.5 inches making them easy to handle and even easier for trading and collecting.

After brainstorming a list of different themes for their cards students were given a graphic organizer that defined the three basic parts of an ATC .  The art room became a smorgasbord of materials giving students multiple choices to create their cards.  The most popular station was for embellishment where they could decorate with buttons, sequins, and glitter!

Students were required to make 5 different cards but many of them chose to make more.  The variety of techniques as well as ideas was endless. At the end of the lesson students gathered together to share their art work as well as trade their ATC’s.

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Do you tell stories to your students?

I use storytelling all of the time when I teach a new lesson based upon the work of an artist.  I have found that it is easier for me to remember facts to share with my students as well as easier for them to remember what they learn.   A lot of the time the storytelling may just be a few facts that interest me about the artists’ life such as…

Louise Nevelson’s father owned a lumber mill and she grew up playing with scraps of wood,

Georgia O’Keeffe started out as an art teacher in Texas before she met the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz that brought her work to New York.  She later became his wife.

Also, when Dale Chihuly was recently in Pittsburgh to supervise an installation of his work at Phipps Conservatory, an art teacher friend of mine was his waitress.   The wait-staff of his table were told they were not permitted to converse with the artist.

Sometimes I give students more details, depending upon their interest level or the time constraints of the lesson.  Since Andy Warhol is from our area,  my students are very interested in all I know or can find out about him.  They are intrigued when I tell them that he went to a nearby elementary school and won a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon’s Saturday morning art classes for children.

What are some of the stories you share with your students?   Do you find that it helps with retention of art and art work?