“Art isn’t everything, it’s just about everything.” Gertrude Stein

Cultivating the Elements and Principles of Art (Part 2)

Every summer since I was very young I have experienced a bad case of poison ivy. I’ve used special soaps, unusual concoctions, and seek the advice or professional doctors and allergists. Chanting the old adage “Leaves of three, let them be.” while I work the garden is not unusual. Despite this evil little plant, I cannot seem to pull myself away from the beauty of a garden.

In a previous post Cultivating the Elements and Principles of Art (Part 1) I shared with you the bones of my garden and how I incorporate my art knowledge into its beauty. Using the elements of art to lay the ground work of what will become a thing of beauty.

The time and the labor put into this space is overwhelming but the end results help to make it worthwhile. Colors, shapes, lines, and texture call me here every summer. It is truly my living work of art.

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Art for Art’s Sake

Do you teach art for art’s sake?

This is a difficult question for me to answer.  I have worked with art colleagues previously that felt I was “sacrificing” art for integration.  I took their opinion very personally until I started to examine what I teach and why I teach it. I do integrate many of my lessons. Years ago, in the time of dinosaurs, I was trained to teach this way.  My art education classes we taught to include all of the disciplines.  Of course, this was before outcomes and mainstreaming as well as No Child Left Behind.

Not all of my lessons are integrated, many are “art for art’s sake” but I feel there is an intrinsic value to those that combine disciplines and are cross-curricular.  When I integrate lessons the objectives and essential question are always based upon my art curriculum. If I choose to incorporate language arts or science, does that make the lesson bad and sacrifice the art?  I find that hard to accept.  I choose to make my lessons engaging and hopefully something that my students will enjoy.  Through that process I can guarantee that they will remember either something from art….. language arts…..or science….maybe all three.

In a recent article in the ASCD, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Willona Sloan states, “….arts education advocates argue that while teaching art for art’s sake is certainly beneficial for all students, studies also show that participating in the arts can actually boost student achievement in other academic areas.”  It doesn’t matter whether the lesson is art for art’s sake or a cross-curricular lesson, if it is not interesting I will lose student’s interest and the lesson will not be successful. 

Inducing art into STEAM and/or Common Core may be a way to save the arts.  It also may be a way to validate the arts as an essential part of learning and creativity.  Either way, I feel it’s a win-win situation.   

 

Can a seasoned veteran still teach in the 21st century?

After taking nine months off for a sabbatical to recharge my batteries, I find myself in a conundrum of wondering, “What do I do?”, “Where do I begin?” and “How do I instill all my new found knowledge into my teaching?” this fall.  I’ve spent the past school year in a much needed respite from the classroom.  Instead I have been refueling my intellect with classes in Technology, Creativity, Common Core Standards, as well as STEM initiatives.

This road to discovery has been full as well as fulfilling.  I’ve embarked on a technological journey of learning that was rigorous as well as enlightening.  I am now able to communicate with students of the 21st century through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogging.   And I’ve delved into the recesses of right/left brain thinking, advocacy of the arts, and blogging for educators.

Today educators are required to take students through school to become innovative and creative individuals of the 21st century.  My concern has been if I would be able to lead them effectively on this new path of discovery.  Do I know enough about technology, do I understand the Common Core; am I meeting the STEM outcomes?

The lingo is new, the timing is pertinent, and the students are young and savvy. Has education really changed so much that I have forgotten how to teach the pupils of today?  Merriam Webster defines a student as an attentive and systematic learner.  They are children who are inquisitive and explorative in nature that want to play and create.  They work to achieve goals and praise that builds confidence to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Yes, the buzz words may have changed and some techniques may be different. This is a phenomenon that has happened throughout the history of education – it is ever-changing. But the process is the same.  Therefore, my mission is the same.  Whether it is through Twitter, You Tube, or the latest STEM initiative I will continue to do my job…..to instill the love of learning.

How is being a project manager like teaching?

A friend of mine recently purchased a large Victorian home in a small town.  His intent was to turn this lovely icon into his workplace, i.e., law offices.  One afternoon I joined him and his wife for lunch where they began to share with me what has be a lifelong dream of owning their own office space and expanding their practice with their son. .

Talk quickly turned to the building and keeping the flavor of the Victorian home while creating an inviting non-sterile office space.  Doing what all good teachers do, I asked questions, posed problems, and showed interest in what seemed to be an insurmountable task.

Before the entrée was complete, we were talking about architecture, colors, and the reasons for staying true to Historical Society’s requirements.  By the time the check came, I found myself saying yes to a project that would consume my thoughts, dreams, and time for the next nine months.

Contractors, electricians, painters and such were asking me to make decisions.  Budget and ADA requirement codes were being assessed. Soon, I began to wonder, how did this happen to someone that offered to choose paint colors and how can an elementary art teacher become a project manager?

Now, as I sit back and take in the fruits of my labor, I have to ask myself in what ways these two jobs strangely similar.

10 ways that being a project manager is like being a teacher:

1.       Have patience.

2.       Bring together a group of people to complete the task.

3.       Follow a schedule and keep a deadline.

4.       Organize supplies within a budget.

5.       Submit plans for approval.

6.       Make decisions on the spot.

7.       Communicate with superiors on a regular basis.

8.       Be flexible and make changes when necessary.

9.       Work and manage many different personalities.

10.   Enjoy yourself!

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Do you love to teach?

I also am very passionate about teaching.  I work in a full inclusive school and my learning support students hold a very special place in my heart.   I commit a significant amount of time to planning lessons, making adaptations, and supporting these students in special programs ensuring to meet the needs sited in their IEP’s.  I’m not sure why I feel this special akin-ship to my students I just know that I do.

Let me share with you 5 ways I help my special needs students achieve success:

1.       Provide your learning support student with a friendly and safe environment.  Find out before the first day of class if they have any friends in their classroom and sit these students together. Make their friend a “buddy” to help with supplies, remind them of appropriate behaviors, or just provide moral support.

2.       Give the learning support student as much time is necessary to complete the task at hand providing extra time before or after school if necessary.

3.       List the steps of the process involved on a small white board for the student to follow along.  As they complete a task have them erase the step to visually see their progress.

4.       Communicate with the learning support teacher, classroom teacher, other colleagues, and parents.  Know the students likes and dislikes and find out how they respond in their learning environment.

5.       Be flexible.  Some students need more instruction, re-direction, or a simple accommodation.  Make whatever changes necessary for the student to feel success.

Please share your ideas I would enjoy hearing how you help your special needs students find success.